Today, we have been in London for four months. That feels, at once, like so long and nothing at all.
I can’t believe how much our lives have changed since we first stepped off the plane in January, lugging all of our stuff through the airport (the first time I’ve ever used one of those wheelie cart things), and chatting with our taxi driver about our move. The next few days were such a blur. Finding the bed bug on one of our bags as we were bringing everything up to our flat, which we didn’t yet know was a studio with a Murphy bed. Unpacking every single item we brought (seven suitcases’ worth) and shaking everything out to make sure we didn’t acquire any more from the plane. (We didn’t!) Waking up at 7 AM, which felt like 2 AM, to get out the door to look at approximately 100 flats in three days. Making dinner in our tiny galley kitchen, running back and forth to my computer for temperature and measurement conversions. Marveling at everything in the grocery store and drinking cider every night.
Now that we’re in our permanent home, things have taken on a feeling of normalcy and we have some routines. We clean our flat on the weekends, and we drink wine and watch bad television on the couch before bed. I have my “shame pile” (the one pile of clothes that inevitably piles up in our bedroom—all mine, of course—that Chris has so dubbed) because I am lazy at night sometimes. I fold laundry and make the bed and buy paper towels when we run out. But that’s where the normal ends. Because the paper towels are different. They’re shorter rolls and not as stout, so they look silly in our tall American paper towel holder. And the milk jugs are rectangular because of the size and orientation of refrigerators here, and they don’t come by the gallon. The tin foil is called aluminium (my computer thinks I’m spelling that incorrectly). They don’t have yellow and blue plastic pieces on their sandwich bags that turn green when you squish them together and prove to you that the bag is really closed. And the grocery store chains make their own brands of wine and cider and they’re not bad. When I go outside, everything looks different. Everything smells different. The people are different. The houses are different, and the cars are different, and the trees and plants are different. We are—undeniably—someplace different.
Last week my Auntie Bea was in town and I got to spend a day with her, which was honestly one of the best days I’ve had since I’ve been here. In my adult life, being so far away from my family, it has always pained me to—in particular—be so far away from my aunts. I was absurdly, abundantly lucky to spend—on average—three days a week with my grandmother’s sisters as I was growing up and they are so much a part of who I am today. To get to spend an entire day with her felt like I’d won the lottery. It also brought into focus, for the thousandth time, how unbelievable what we’re doing is. If you had asked me when I was young, sleeping over at my Auntie Bea’s, making “tea” out of pool water and watching her clean the kitchen, if one day we would spend an afternoon together on a tour bus of London and have lunch in a pub, what would I have said? I’m happy that she does so many amazing things, has been to more countries than I have, and keeps so many long-standing friendships! I am so lucky to have women in my life that I can still look up to.
And with that said, stay tuned: Next up, my review of a reality series on dinner parties with strangers. The fun never ends!