Category Archives: missing already

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.

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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.

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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.

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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)

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and Paddington Gardens

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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.

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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.

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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”).

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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.

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top things i will miss #6

I can almost guarantee that years from now (or three weeks from now when it’s gone), in my heart this will have jumped to #2. But for now I will miss sixth most of all:

#6 Jonah’s accent.

I never expected it, but it happened. I guess from spending time with Melissa and his little friends and watching cartoons and some of the electronic toys he has and I guess just being out in the world, Jonah has an accent. To our families and friends back in the US, it sounds very British. To British people it sounds, depending on who is listening and what Jonah happens to be going on about, English (but not posh), proper cockney, a mix, American. To me he sounds like Jonah. I can’t deny the way he says “water” though.

And no one can deny the “naughty” below.

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top things i will miss #7

Well, I had high hopes for this list. But then I slacked off, and now we’re almost moving and I certainly can’t be bothered to blather on about this.

I wish.

Because the thing is, we are getting down now to my real, important, vital, precious, top things. And this one is a good one. You don’t even have to live here to know about this one. I will miss

#7 English terms and expressions.

I love giving my poppets a cuddle, especially when I think they’re being lovely and brilliant and clever and look smart but not so much when they’re being cheeky. The lovely parts make me broody. Unfortunately for Bryan. Jonah only knows about using a trolley at the shop and then going to the till. When we bring our food back to the flat we make it on the cooker and when we’re all done we put it in the rubbish or the bin or I guess really the rubbish bin. We take lifts and buggies and prams places and look out for lorries and the post and past the pub and sometimes the loo but always make sure we’re home for half five. He knows how to put on trousers and trainers and to shun jumpers. I’ve been minding and popping and faffing. I’ve wondered any joy? There are always bit and bobs, niggly ones and jiggly ones. I believe in “s”s over ‘z’s and signing off with an x. There is a difference between a biscuit and a cookie and so I am glad there are two words. Mash and veg mean I don’t have to speak as long. Ace. Courgette and aubergine make them sound more delicious to me. Quite. Rocket makes it seem more fun to eat. We should have all agreed it was jam all along so jelly could just be jelly. For no particular reason I am partial to booking over reserving for eating or the cinema and although it took me five years, I called the weather bloody the other day and a sarcastic brilliant might have snuck in there as well. Autumn is more lovely. Going on holiday too. Especially if we’re knackered. Chat is the best. Chatting up, chatting to, chat show on, a person with good chat. Driving is more fun with a boot and a bonnet involved. I could take or leave petrol. I would welcome an excuse to say tenner though. I love all the high streets to go down on the way, and passing charity shops that I don’t frown upon like some. On our way to the aeroplane. Seems more adventurous spelled that way. But I will be gutted to leave.

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