Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Do you know what I hate?

So, we are in the driveway loading a few things on my brother's truck.  Nosy neighbor comes out to "take out the trash" and by that I mean "get the scoop." 

Neighbor (speaking through the cig in her mouth):  Ya'll movin'?

Matt: Yes

Neighbor:  Oh, yeah?  Where to?

Me:  London. 

Neighbor:  Cold.     

Neighbor:  Wet.     

Neighbor:  Dreary.  

Me:   Have you been there?

Neighbor:  I'm from Europe.    Small appliances. 

Me:  I'm really excited.

Neighbor:  Small houses.

This is where I walk away and leave Matt to the "small" talk.   

This happens all the time and makes me crazy.  I know it rains in England.  I realize that they have four seasons and weather variations.  I realize that the typical London flat is small and has small appliances.  I realize that they speak English but in an odd way.  I realize that it's really far away.  I know they drive on the wrong side of the road.  I know that I won't get ice in my drinks. 

I appreciate your attempt to inform and advise, Nosy Neighbor, but seriously? This is me rolling my eyes.  


Monday, December 26, 2011

How do you eat an elephant?

I’ve moved many times, so I’m not too overwhelmed by a relocation.  I see it as a chance to clean out the closets.  But this move is a whole different animal.  Once we made “the decision” and set the ball rolling, every day has involved a new item to complete and mark off of the mental checklist.   And each of those items involves 20+ steps. 

It started with giving notice at work and applying for my Spouse’s Visa.  It has progressed to sorting everything down to the last paperclip into piles for packing, shipping, tossing, giving or storing.  Selling the vehicles, listing the house, booking tickets, movers and storage units... the list seems endless.  And all of this while testing for the CPA exam and celebrating the holidays.  When I step back it does look overwhelming but I’m amazed how everything has come together (with a few glitches).   

I think Matt and I work pretty well together.  However, his packing method and mine are very different.  He packs a box like a Tetris game, assigns said box a number with a black sharpie and makes a list of the items included, which is then copied and filed.   I just toss the stuff in, tape it closed before it explodes and label it “stuff” with a tube of lipstick.  The solution to this is that we just don’t pack together… problem solved. 

Moving has been cited as one of the most stressful events in a marriage.  But, I’ve never felt closer to Matt.  Each day we accomplish the tasks for the day and make plans for the next phase.  And here we are, less than 10 days to go.  Everything is on schedule and we feel pretty good about what still needs to be done. 

When I first started saying aloud “I’m moving to London”, it felt so weird.  I said it with a perplexed look on my face and my inflection would go up at the end as if it was a question.   But, now the fact has sunk in… I’m moving to London.  And with that has also come the realization of what that means.   I’m extremely excited about what the future holds in England.  But every day includes another goodbye, some simple and some that are physically painful.  

Focusing on the logistics of the move and the things that I can control is often the solution to those moments of panic when I realize what I will be leaving behind.   There just aren’t any words to explain how that feels. 

So, we are eating the elephant the only way that you can… one bite at a time.   How does it taste?  Bittersweet.  


Tuesday, December 20, 2011

To Blog or Not to Blog...

Recently, I've been reading all of the American Expat in London blogs that I can find.  I don't like to go into a new situation blind and they've helped me to gain an idea of what to expect.

Like the blogger, each blog has it's own personality: mommy blogger, foodie blogger, travel writer, daily journal, anonymous commentary, student blogger, and many more.  I've always wanted to blog and have had one false start.  But decided that I would try again. 

The main purpose is to stay in touch with family and friends.  I'm hoping that by sharing our journey, I won't be out of sight and out of mind.  It will also serve as a personal journal, travelogue and scrapbook for us.  It's unlikely that I will discuss politics or religion and I'll try not to share too much of the mundane.  And if another finds themselves in my position and can get some encouragement from my journey, even better. 

I now have some very specific, preconceived notions about living in England and I'm curious to see how they actually pan out.  All of the research in the world is not as valuable as actual experience.  I will list a few of them here and then revisit them in a few months, to see how the reality compares to the perception. 

1.  Weather is always 1st in the UK and it appears that discussing the weather is a national pastime.   It rains in England.  I know this because, my DH reminds me on a daily basis.  My actual 10 day experience in England, does not mesh with this concept as we had two mornings with light showers and sunshine the rest of the time.  Counting the hours of daylight in each day also seems to be important.  (I'm convinced that it rains Skittles in Ireland.)

2.  There is a lot of discussion on the expat blogs about what you can and can't get in the UK, what things you should bring with you and what things you will miss.  Hence, my future shopping trip to load up on my favorite deodorant and taco seasoning and the reason I've had Tex-Mex for 8 out of the past 10 meals.     

3.  Another perception that seems to be shared by everyone outside of the UK, is that the food is bland and boring.  I will admit that I missed fresh lettuce while visiting the English countryside and at one point found myself eating a garnish in desperation.  But how can a country that produced Nigella, Jamie and Gordon produce only bland food?  I'm looking forward to testing this one. 

In a few months, I'll take another look at these things and see how my perceptions change in the face of reality.  Thank you to the bloggers that have been inspiring, entertaining and encouraging me.  


Thursday, December 15, 2011

He said, she said.

She:  "Honey, for Christmas I want one of those A to Z Guides of London.  All the blogs say you have to have one if you're gonna live in London."

He:  "Yes, dahling.  But, it's pronounced A to Zed, not A to Z."

She:  "No it's not."

He:  "Yes, it is.  X... Y... Zed."

She:  "But, that's not even a letter.  It's a word." 

He:  "It's a letter.  Zed."

She:  "But you have to spell it.  Z... E...D."

He:  "It's Zed."

She:  "Whatever."

He:  "Would you like a cuppa tea, dahling?"

She:  "No."

He:  "You know they won't let you in if you keep this up."

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Once upon a time, in a land far away...

Like most, I grew up on a healthy diet of British literature, history and pop culture.
It all starts with fairy tales and goes from there, doesn't it?  In elementary school, I devoured the biographies of Florence Nightingale and other famous Brits.  And what prepubescent girl doesn't love the stories of King Arthur, Guinevere and Sir Lancelot?  One of my favorite authors is Jane Austen and I've read The Mists of Avalon series by Marion Zimmer Bradley twice. I often read nonfiction books on British history just for fun.  (Then there was that whole historical romance phase, gotta love a good bodice ripper.) 

My first 45 was Hey Jude.  I recently went to see Love in Vegas and was verklempt throughout.  And of course, I was lucky enough to be around during the best MTV years ever and the Second British Invasion... Adam Ant, Culture Club, Spandau Ballet, Duran Duran, The Human League, Wham!, Dexy's Midnight Runners.  

Favorite movies... Three Weddings and A Funeral, A Room with a View, Bridget Jones, Love Actually, Nottinghill... My Fair Lady.  During the recent Royal Wedding, Jess and I got up early, donned tiaras and had mimosas as we watched hours of coverage (don't judge).  I guess you could call me a bit of an Anglophile.  
And now this long-distance relationship is taking the next step and I will be living in this land far away.   And I am thrilled.  I've always wanted to live in Europe (although, I must confess, I always thought it would be Italy a la Under the Tuscan Sun.  Spaghetti Bolognaise is much sexier than Bangers & Mash.)  

I'm excited and also nervous.  When you pull back the curtain, you are usually met with the ordinary.  The reality of this place will likely not stand up to the ideals that are instilled in me.  I'm sure there will be days when I think "What the hell am I doing here?"  But, I also know there will be as many days (hopefully more) that I will think "I can't believe I get it live here!" 

So, with my head in the clouds and my feet firmly on the ground... I am off to the United Kingdom with my Englishman.  I would adore him if he was from anywhere else, but the fact that the man that I love madly whispers sweet nothings with a British accent is the bomdiggity.


Sunday, December 11, 2011

The Goodbye's start today.

Matt & I are pretty compatible in our decision making.  We spend a lot of time considering and discussing.  It may seem some of our decisions are rash (we did get engaged within a month of meeting and were married in three months) but, I can assure you they are still well thought out and we stand by them.

When we made the decision to relocate to London, a million other decisions followed.  One of the toughest was what to do with our adorable rat terriers, Sugar and Mister.   After much consideration, we decided that taking them with us was not a good option, so we were left with finding them a home.

We sent out several feelers and knew (hoped) that this was another thing that would fall into place.  And it has.  A wonderful coworker has introduced us to a lovely retired couple.  They live on 4 acres in the Hill Country.  When we were visiting, they showed us a picture of their beloved rat terrier they recently lost to cancer.  She looked just like Sugar & Mister. They travel often in an RV and will take the pups everywhere they go.  We could not have asked for a better home for our wonderful animals.

We tell ourselves how lucky we are to have spent time with these loving animals.  We are so happy that they will be able to stay together.  We are thrilled to have found such a great home for them.  But, knowing this all in our heads, does not make our hearts ache less.

So, today is the first of many painful goodbyes.

"For there is a price ticket on everything that puts a whizz into life, and adventure follows the rule.  It's distressing, but there you are."  Leslie Charteris