it was all a dream: postscript

IMG_4546

Did I ever tell you the story about this fortune?

Hi.

I didn’t want you to think our plane from London had gotten sucked up by the Bermuda Triangle en route to the US two weeks ago, and we had been living a dual life on a mysterious island run by the Dharma Initiative ever since.

That didn’t happen. The flight home (“home”) to Virginia was fine. Uneventful, really. Actually, eventful. For some reason Bryan tended to the kids the entire eight hours and I watched two movies, got hooked on some newish tv and read my book. That’s kind of like a Bermuda Triangle-thing to happen. Eerie but maybe exciting.

I’m checking in now because I finally have five seconds to do so, and because I want to make sure you know that I have read each and every one of your recent comments over the last few weeks and all the emails that have been sent to me personally.

I feel you.

And thank you.

I feel humbled by your support of this blog. (I feel uncomfortable too. Self-deprecation intermixed with random bouts of self-fandom (but only self) is more my steez.)

That said, I have my big girl pants (is it pants pants or trousers?) on and I am taking everything into consideration. I guess as they would say in the country from whence I just came: Watch This Space.

Our last few weeks in London were exhausting in a good way. So many goodbyes. So many things to try to see and do one last time. And the weather was so profoundly bad, it ripped at least 50% of the life force out of all of us. Can you believe I put weather on the list of things I would miss? I meant to say “narrower possible range of temperatures” but instead I said “weather” and now I have to spend my whole (hopefully very long but also quality) life living with that error. We had a last-minute pub night, dinner with friends at Mr. Chow, received many beautiful gifts that are incredibly meaningful to me and all very coincidentally feature something London or Britain-themed, and then for our very last weekend we were in a hotel which kind of befitted the surreal element to leaving a place bittersweetly. Nothing was cinematic about that very last weekend. No flat to look at longingly one last time. It was raining too hard to indulge in one last walk through Regent’s Park. Instead we managed to spontaneously make plans with four different friend sets and their kids on our last full day and so Jonah had at least four opportunities to faux-spear someone with a toy sword. And we ate unremarkable room service. Not bangers & mash or fish & chips, but just something generic and hotel-y. It’s like the gods knew I would want an easy transition.

But this next part is like a movie. You see, separately Matt & Trish and Melissa & Nick had requested to see us off at the airport on Sunday. And I said No multiple times. Why would someone want to say goodbye that way? It seems like so much trouble and a waste of their Sunday. What if they were just offering to be nice? Bryan – because he is normal and has a normal brain and normal self-esteem – told everyone they could come if they wanted to. And it was a good thing he/they did. 1. Because ultimately they were there for our kids, and our kids loved having them there. 2. Trish wrote out like 15 luggage ID tags for me. 3. Everyone helped with the luggage and Bryan couldn’t have his normal luggage-related outbursts. 4. I totally cried and cried and cried in the line at security looking back at our friends. Because no matter what I write or photograph or say, Jonah and Simon will never know how much they were loved by these people in the very beginning of them.

45184_10151300836041167_137118797_n

I pulled myself together after Security. I mean, is anyone ever still crying after Security? Can you imagine a Hollywood blockbuster where the heroine has to take off her shoes, then her coat, then check her pockets for loose change, then remind herself what earrings she’s wearing, then take her laptop out of her bag, then ask someone if a Kindle counts but everyone in line is glaring at her, then – because everyone in line is glaring at her and it’s making her nervous – fumbles through her purse and realizes she has no fewer than five little pots of lip balms and glosses and she forgot to grab one of those little plastic bags from the beginning of the Security line and now she has to withstand the fiery death stares of all the people who knew to grab the bag at the outset because THERE WERE HUGE SIGNS TELLING EVERYONE TO GRAB A BAG and it’s especially stressful because no one ever even knows if lip balm is a liquid or a solid and it’s such a grey area about lip balm really, then wait like an a-hole at the end of the conveyor belt seeing the first tray of her stuff come within reach but then stop while the Security person viewing the video screen stares and stares and stares and rewinds the conveyor belt and stares and then forwards it and the whole time even though there is nothing even remotely exciting inside and it’s obvious that even if there was, no one would catch it. Oh and then the part where it takes another hour just to get dressed again and re-pack everything and do it awkwardly while holding on to the end of the conveyor belt for balance. There’s no cinematic crying after that.

One thing I was reminded of that I love about Not-America is communal space airport seating. You wait in the middle of a huge atrium of shops and duty-free offerings and food and drink and you only go to your gate at the very last possible minute once the gate is announced. It’s like flight as train travel. I like it. Anyway, so there we were in communal waiting mode in Heathrow’s Terminal I-Can’t-Remember. And all of a sudden a little traditional Irish music duo sets up on chairs in the middle of it all and begins to play staggeringly perfect melodies as soundtrack to The Leaving. Violin, guitar, I think, I don’t know exactly. I only knew that I was dancing with my kids and thinking wait, maybe I can conjure up some tears again! Then Bryan hands me a book he had been secretly making for three months of photos of our entire five years. Dayenu.

And now, we are post-London. A tour through it:

My mom was standing there outside baggage claim with a Thomas the Train balloon. I knew she would have a balloon. A seven word sentence that encapsulates so very much.

I walked to the wrong side of our rental car to get in the front passenger seat.

I ate bacon the very next morning. The American kind.

Servers at restaurants keep giving me ice in my drinks and refilling them before I can ask or be asked. Mind blown.

We bought a car. I’m still not used to the idea.

IMG_0149

The NCAA Tournament started and I honestly and truly was confused for a second. For five years Bryan had been deprived of live sports-viewing and it was awesome (for me). And now it’s not awesome (for me).

We started to clean out some of the 9,000 boxes we keep at my parents’. I’m a reformed hoarder but I can’t part yet with every note I ever took in law school. It’s sort of like as long as I hold on to my Criminal Procedure II final exam outline, the reality of my $100+K student loan debt and unemployed status will remain only a light-hearted and whimsical cocktail party anecdote. Should we ever be invited to a cocktail party.

We keep getting to see Amurrican friends, and our friends’ kids. Thanks for having us back, guys.

The sun keeps shining. Every day it shines and I think “what luck!” Eventually I will take it for granted but for now, it is so exciting!

I’ll be in Virginia for another month with the kids before our Brooklyn palace/shanty is ready. My parents/step-parents are loving on us and taking care of us and it feels good. They didn’t want us to live far away but we came back and now they never have to worry or feel sorry for themselves again! Except sometimes Bryan mentions job offers in Hong Kong for fun.

As our Between Countries And Moves vacation, we spent five days in Charleston, South Carolina visiting my younger brother and sister-in-law.

IMG_0060

If you’ve never been, you are crazy. Go see why Conde Nast readers just voted Charleston the #1 top city to visit in the United States. When I hear all the upwardly-mobile British people yammer on about San Francisco and all the cab drivers recounting their last five trips to Orlando, I want to grab and shake them and say CHARLESTON! GO TO CHARLESTON! It’s beautiful and Southern charming and has beaches and is a foodie haven and people are so ridiculously friendly and they really do say y’all and it’s actually American enough to have started the Civil War. What was San Francisco doing while the rest of the country was fighting over slavery and someotherstuff?? Probably boring crap like prospering on the Gold Rush and legalizing gay marriage. Lame.

IMG_0064

Also, in the South they do things like drive pick-up trucks and wear visors even when not golfing and eat grits and drink sweet tea and run for office using actual nicknames like “Teddy” and play Cornhole.

Micah and Janelle were like the best hosts on Earth. Micah wanted the kids so badly to himself, he got Bryan and me a night in a hotel downtown. His Uncle Energy is 24-7. They had toys and books for the kids and Janelle had organized an art project and baking and had – wait for it – made tater tots from scratch.

IMG_4665 IMG_4678 IMG_4619 IMG_4628 600203_10200407129213704_214510209_n IMG_0023 IMG_0017 IMG_0016 IMG_0012 IMG_0054

Then we got back to Virginia and explored the new Air & Space museum at Dulles with my dad and step-mom.

IMG_0105 IMG_0116 IMG_0142

Then my mom had a Passover Seder and there was great company and legendary brisket.

For some reason this is the only picture I took that came out.

For some reason this is the only picture I took that came out.

Then the kids did an Easter Egg Roll in my mom’s neighborhood. I kept almost dying of preciousness.

IMG_0027 IMG_4859 IMG_4889 IMG_4844

Then we came down to my dad and step-mom’s for a few days. And they had a million family members over for Easter. And it was lovely. And my dad put a Peep in every single dish. And as I have mentioned before, the Brits do not have Peeps. Which says so very much about the vast divide between our two cultures.

IMG_4935 IMG_4940 IMG_4962 IMG_4961

And now

well, now this blog has officially gone off-topic.

Maybe we’ll meet again soon.

7 Comments

Filed under family, food, friends, photos, travel, weather

5 years, 1 month, 9 days

So I am pretty sure this blog is over.

Mostly. I have a few things I need to do for closure. (Why did I never blog about Barcelona? Jonah and Simon should have their latest letters. Is it overkill to make a slide show of London?)

I am so tempted to say “Thank you for reading.” But it just doesn’t seem like the right thing to say.

What I want to say really is that I never could have imagined what it would be like to interact with some of the people who read this blog. You have taught me things about this country I didn’t know or had wrong. You made me feel connected by virtue of similar opinions, experiences, and/or reactions to things. Or you challenged me in a way that was good. You turned me on to other things. You made me laugh out loud at your search terms. You humbled me with them too. You made feel like our family is cared for. Some of you were our fans. Some of you kept me on my toes. Some of you – and you probably know who you are – were people who easily would have slipped out of the grasp of my everyday life (tangential acquaintances, light-hearted friendships forged by shared experiences which were no longer shared, etc.) but because of some mutual fondness we had for this exact forum and the story being told, we totally heart each other now. I cherish that, I really do.

Blogging is a very funny thing. Beside it being mostly a 1-sided conversation (which may be a contradiction), there was always a small voice in the back of my mind (FOR FIVE WHOLE YEARS) that while living an experience in the moment was concurrently considering whether it should be blogged and if yes, formulating in what manner and whether a picture was needed or a reminder jotted down. I guess maybe it’s a little like being a very, very, very lowly and non-contributing-to-society talentless journalist. You’re always sort of “on”, living life while processing which parts should be turned into anecdotes or screeds.

I think I will miss that and I won’t miss it. It’s also worth mentioning I am total crap at formatting and uploading pictures and I can’t even write a paragraph without getting distracted and combing the internet for the most inane celebrity “news” available for public consumption. In other words, I am technologically slow and easily distracted. This means that this blog takes me a lot of time.

I’m ready to be a better mom (or at least a mediocre mom with a different time suck) and well, anyway

this blog was the part where we move to london.

And we don’t live there anymore.

In my head there is the part where we move back to brooklyn. In my head.

26 Comments

Filed under blogging

the very top thing i will miss

The best five years of our 14-year relationship has been the part where we moved to London. We didn’t know anyone. We had to figure everything out. I had to figure out the stupid shuttle outside a tube station I didn’t want to be outside of just to carry way more stuff than I had any business carrying myself back from IKEA. And then use the little Allen key to put the stupid thing together. So that when he came home from work and would naturally be disappointed that they don’t sell such things as baby carrots here, we’d have a dresser. We needed a dresser, so we got a dresser. Without a car or anyone to say where the best dressers are. And I had to figure out what would my job be because of course no one was going to tell me outright that my old job wasn’t going to work in my new country so I figured out how to get interviews and then I figured out how to get to them by staring, staring, staring hard at my little copy of A-Z which when I finally inevitably left it behind on the tube one day I didn’t need it anymore because I sort of knew where everything was but I wasn’t going to brag about it because he was going to come home from work a little more deflated that it wasn’t like he thought it would be and I was going to be a rock and not show worry or mention that we had come all this way and failure wasn’t an option. No one was there to say how you bleach your clothes and if you don’t, why not. Or that eventually you just won’t notice the hard water. For awhile we weren’t invited to anything on the weekends and it was so surprising in its freedom. And we looked at each other all those times and said Where should we go today? And then when we started being invited to things on the weekends we still remembered those weekends when we weren’t invited to things and so we always tried really hard to live like we hadn’t been invited to anything because those weekends we hadn’t been invited to anything were some of the best weekends of all.

And then we were three.

And then we were four.

And although London is 8 million different things to 8 million different people, and even though I am going to be so happy to live closer to our families in the US, and despite the fact that I am a very optimistic cautious optimist generally and will always believe it can only get better, for me

the very best thing of all about London and so the thing I will miss more than anything is that

#1 it was just us.

7 Comments

Filed under missing already

top things i will miss #2

The rule I started out with for this list was nothing could be replicable in the US. So I should explain why

#2 our friends

still stands.

I have puzzled over this one a little. Our friends here aren’t better than our friends in the US, just different. But how? Or more interesting to me, why?

It must be this shared experience. This foreign life. This international living. (As a side note, we have British friends. And we got better at making them over the years. But even friendships with people far more local to their roots than us, are friendships still formed and experienced through our vantage point of being from elsewhere. They still then have a special hue.)

Many of the people we’ve met and love chose to live in London from all points a way’s away, far, and very, very far. That diversity and affirmative life choice alone make the person already something specific. What’s the right adjective?

I don’t know. I just know every shared meal, every conversation, every jointly traveled trip, every holiday celebrated, every rescue mission completed … felt different. Heightened.

Our friends came over, invited us to theirs, found bands and concerts, laid out picnics, taught us about Sauternes, printed Hagaddahs, moved our shit, moved our shit again, listened, laughed, judged not-too-harshly, picked the best themes, lent, paid for manicures, gave sartorial suggestions, took the piss, reconfigured, downloaded, uploaded, traded, bought, picked us up in Zipcars, picked us up in taxis, picked us up in a car service, brought back from IKEA, brought over for the fridge, grilled our favorite, baked our favorite, bought our favorite, met us on corners and at the cinema and by the bus stop and in fancy lunch spots and in not-so-fancy Korean joints and at the mall and at the high street, explained, deflected, brought the right converter, remembered the cups, tipped us off to the right hairdresser and dentist and GP and consultant and suit store, sent links, lent their flats, hosted, threw, deliberated, humored, listened, posited, taught, taught, taught, taught, taught and said yes.

Oh and

Loved our kids. More than we knew friends could. Like their own if they had one. Threw baby showers and visited the hospital and did things behind the scenes and babysat and oh my gosh, babysat so much, and held and fed and gave a break and a rest and brought food and minded and knew, just always seemed to know, and taught, fed and stared and stared and stared with love and teared up and came over in a crisis. And were emergency contacts.

When you live abroad you still need an emergency contact.

1 Comment

Filed under friends, missing already

top things i will miss #3

City life is bearable, enjoyable, possible, and preferable because of the

#3 parks and green spaces.

London leads the world in this. Britain is kind of known for its green thumb anyway, right? Five Royal Parks in Central London alone (Hyde Park, Kensington Gardens, St. James Park, Green Park, Regent’s Park). Hundreds of small garden squares scattered about.

url-7

You will never be too far from a bench and a better view. We partook often. Well done, London, well done.

We’re partial to Regent’s Park (and ZSL within)

url

url-1

url-5

url-2

url-4

DSC_0256

url-3

url-6

url-8 

and Paddington Gardens

url-11

Leave a comment

Filed under missing already

top things i will miss #4

imgresWhat I always loved about Washington, DC is the low height of all the buildings. What I have always loved about New York is the sheer, teeming size and energy of it. London is the perfect combination. It is a massive city, but with very few very tall buildings (just small pockets like Canary Wharf here and there). Low buildings mean that the iconic landmarks are visible from far away as points of orientation and points of inspiration. It means that the city is less about its skyline and more about the sum of its discrete beautiful parts. It also means you can easily see the actual sky when you’re walking around. And for me, the sky (especially when blue) is the perfect backdrop to take in

#4 the architecture.

url-7London is nonstop eye candy. Maybe if you’re from here you don’t even fully appreciate it. I’m not from here. And truth be told, I’m a (very extroverted) loner at heart. I guess my real London, my really, real, real, real London has been a lot of walking around by myself (or pushing a baby around, but that’s sort of like being alone).

And every single day, every. single. day. no matter what, I stared at the buildings. Because they blow me away. They are beautiful. They make me think and feel. They make me a little nervous to miss them.

IMG_0410

url-4

url-6

url

url-3 url-2

Marylebone, where I spend – I don’t know – 90% of my life, is beautiful to me even on its own. I love the buildings in this neighbourhood almost most of all. Because they have been a constant backdrop to a time I loved.

url-1

url-3

url-1

url-2

url

Leave a comment

Filed under missing already

top things i will miss #5

Before boarding a plane with a bunch of suitcases to move to London, I had spent a grand total of like 5 days here six years before coming back. I don’t even think on that trip I thought London was one of the greatest cities on Earth. I just remember I liked our hotel room and I actually had fun at Madame Tussaud’s.

London is one of the greatest cities on Earth, but what made me first want to move here was its

#5 proximity to Europe (and really, “the rest of the world”).

url

I was wanderlusting before we even moved. And then we got here and traveled more in our first year than maybe I had in the ten years of my life prior. The humane amount of time off work helps. The multitude of bare-bones budget European airlines helps. The more pro-travel cultural attitude certainly helps. The proximity though, the proximity is everything. It can be jarring I think for the people you have left to see our collective status updates on social media, blog posts, or just hear the destinations in conversation. Most expats I know here recognize how much like a-holes we must sound all the time when mentioning the places we go. And yet, Spain, France, Italy etc… are the same distances away as me living in New York and going to visit friends in Chicago or Atlanta. It’s just that Tuscany or Barcelona sound more exotic to some people than Indianapolis or Charlotte. But doing the trips is equally as easy.

I love being from a big country and I love living in a small one. Even if just for one more day.

Screen Shot 2013-03-15 at 4.39.13 PM

url

imgres

url-1

4 Comments

Filed under missing already, travel