Yes, it’s been almost a year since we left the UK…. What a strange feeling, and I can sense a whole torrent of emotions building up and rolling towards me (the PMS doesn’t help). Of course, the insanity that has been ruling our planet those last few weeks doesn’t help either; rather, it makes we want to curl up and beam myself somewhere else. I just want to go home. Not be stuck here, waiting for another natural or political or terrorist disaster. But then, I have to push those thoughts aside, and just focus on us here, our little family, and what we’re going to do.
After having felt quite settled those last few months, things are getting a tad more restless once more. We’ve decided not to extend the lease on our house, but to look for something smaller and less financially crippling, and have found an apartment that fits the bill. Having chosen our house last year for location, beauty and space (and the lack of decent alternatives) we knew it was too big and expensive, but the situation demanded quick action, and after those horrible months of “are we going, or aren’t we” and waiting for our visas, I was desperate for something nice to move into. And now, a year later, I’ve had enough of paying for a lot of unused space. I still want the location of course, so the girls can stay in their schools, but beauty and space have become less important now. The hordes of visitors we’d been hoping for haven’t materialised, and probably won’t, and right now, we’re thinking only about another 12 months.
And after that, who knows? Another 12 months of living here but not knowing what will happen once that time is up…. In some ways, I’m getting used to this constant uncertainty, and our temporary lifestyle. If anything, California is the perfect place for doing exactly that. But sometimes I think I’m wishing away our time here. I can’t help thinking about the future, what comes after all this – perfectly natural, but also a shame, as this time will never come back. I have to remind myself to enjoy living in the moment a bit more! One thing is certain (at least in my mind): California is never going to become “home”. I admit that I’ve had moments over the last few months, when I thought I might want to stay here, but those moments were few and far between, and right now, I miss Europe, and in particular the UK, so much it hurts (yes I know, S will snort and shake his head in disbelief when he reads this). But that’s how I feel, and now, with all this horror happening in the world (and not that far from here), I really want to be home. Of course there’s a whole list of things I still want to do while we’re here (and there it is again, “while we’re here”, implying that we won’t stay): a trip to Hawaii, Mexico, dinner at the French Laundry (oh yes, although I’d better start saving), whale watching, lots more wine tasting, camping in Big Sur, lots and lots more trips to Lake Tahoe (how am I ever going to live without this perfect, wonderful, awesome snow???). So, yes, we have to stay for a while in order to do all those things. And then? I know there’s no way we would go back to what we left behind. No going “back”, full stop. We need to move forwards, of course, and maybe, hopefully, find something/somewhere more “home”. But who knows… I want the girls to have a base, and at the moment, that is still the UK. Well, at least for E, who misses her friends a lot and is already excited to go and see them all in July. She is still adamant she will not speak with an American accent, and emphasises the fact she’s English at every opportunity (bless her). F just wants to see her grandparents more, they are who she misses the most. She doesn’t doesn’t talk much about her old friends, although sometimes she surprises me with her memory, and will talk about some event back in Germany or the UK, and get a bit sad. Unlike E, F hasn’t really made friends here. She has playdates and gets on well at her pre-school, but I can tell she’s still not sure how to fit in. Having been uprooted at a time when she had good friends, and was ready to start big school, she had to do a U turn: going back to pre-school with kids her age but mentally a lot younger, trying to fit in but acting and looking like at least a year or two older than she is hasn’t made the transition easy for her. But she still seems happy and has a very active day, including karate, dancing and rock climbing, which has made her confidence soar (oooh, get me, I almost sound American). And I shouldn’t forget that she’s not even 5 yet, and won’t remember much of this when she’s older!
As for me, I also miss my friends terribly, and just talking to them for a few minutes every now and then. It’s so hard being far away, and not being able to just pick up the phone. Everybody is so busy with their daily life, and it’s hard to find a time to talk to anybody, the 8 or 9 hour time difference is an absolute killer. And whereas I’m constantly aware of that difference, I don’t think anybody else is (apart from our parents, who have made some room for us in their day). What I miss is putting the kids to bed, and then sit and have a chat with a girlfriend, even Skype would do! But oh no, when it’s 8pm here, you lot are still snoozing…
Anyway, I don’t want to sound like a total loser! We usually have a pretty good time here. And just in case you want to chat/email/skype, I’ve worked it out for you Europeans. Here is your window, people!
UK 7am / Germany 8am = US West Coast 11pm
UK 3pm / Germany 4pm = US West Coast 7am
UK 4pm / Germany 5pm = US West Coast 8am
UK 5pm / Germany 6pm = US West Coast 9am
UK 6pm / Germany 7pm = US West Coast 10am
UK 7pm / Germany 8pm = US West Coast 11am
UK 8pm / Germany 9pm = US West Coast 12pm
UK 9pm / Germany 10pm = US West Coast 1pm
UK 10pm / Germany 11pm = US West Coast 2pm
So that means if you want to see E, you need to skype between 3.30 and 4pm on weekdays, or at the weekend!
And now I’m going to brew myself a nice cup of English Breakfast Tea, which arrived in the post yesterday, just for me, and made me smile. Thank you, my friend, whom I miss so much, and who I still hope will just turn up on my doorstep one day. But guess what, it’s just over 3 months until July!