I’ve been thinking (since before I even left the UK) about what I wanted to say here at the Lettuce about my latest adventure: re-patting. For two years the handful of you that read the Lettuce have been subjected to my homesickness, my struggles, my challenges and my sorrows as well as my triumphs and successes living as an expat in the UK. You’ve sent me messages of encouragement and sometimes of envy, and for those little moments when I felt not quite so far away, I’m grateful.
I was hoping that the moment would arrive, inspiration would strike, and I could write an outstanding final chapter to the expat part of my life that would be worthy of all of you that shared it with me. Well, if you know me, you know my tendency to Griswald everything in my life. Really, the moose out front should have told you.
So what we’re left with is this: I don’t know how I feel about being here, now. So I’ll start this dialogue by sharing with you the events of the past two days…amazing to think that just 72 hours ago I was in Keighley, and now I’m here.
Thursday morning came far too early. I don’t think I really slept Wednesday night because I wanted to remember every single thing about sleeping in that room, next to my incredible husband, with my precious princess Daisy on her bed by the window and my little hearthrob Mills curled up and purring in my hair. The alarm sounded at 4am and I was up and heading towards a new start in an old country.
Everything about Thursday morning was unremarkable, and that was just as I needed it to be. Even the taxi driver who turned up 20 minutes late got us to the train station in time for the 0601 train. We made it to Leeds, and then to Manchester Airport. We had coffee and then I left Simon to head to my plane.
Yeah, so it wasn’t quite that easy. There were lots of tears and begging to stay and bargaining to move to Canada together between the alarm and the full body scan. Anyway…
The plane was full to the gills, and I was lucky enough to sit in front of a small boy who is destined to be a striker for a Premiership team one day. Two Angelina movies, a Dawn Treader and something else I couldn’t be asked to watch, the end of a Percy Jackson and the beginning of a Harper Connelly, and I was on the ground in Atlanta. No lines at security, my bags arrived safe and sound, and I was whisked off to my sister’s house for the evening.
Have I mentioned how much I adore my niece Joy, how much of a superstar she is? Even when she’s slapping me in the nose with my own sunglasses, the urge to tuck her under my arm and make a run for it is strong. What a special, incredible, unique soul she is. Anyway, moving on…
Friday we visited the town home that my sister and her family will hopefully be moving into soon and then headed north to where I am now, with my parents. All of this seemed no different than any other time I’ve come home on holiday, and I was feeling quite proud of myself for manning up and getting on with things as far as moving back home goes.
You know what I did, don’t you? I “Days of Our Lives Jinxed” myself. On Days, when a character makes a proclamation of all clear, such as “nothing will ever tear us apart again,” the third member of their love triangle will immediately arrive in town. I felt like I had a handle on the re-patting, and the universe decided to tell me otherwise.
It was so simple: go to Walmart on the way into town, pick up some face wipes and a toothbrush. I’d been to that Walmart before and even knew where everything was. Easy peasy.
I can’t really describe what it was like to stand in front of a section of that store, staring at the shelves full of sixty-eleven different kinds of mouthwash, staring intently in the hope that the one you recognise will magically appear on the shelf. I gave up and moved on to the face wipes. Were there really that many brands two years ago when I left? Were any of them the same as the Boots own that I’ve been using for what seemed like forever? I finally grabbed a green packet of face wipes, LITERALLY because it was green and my Boots ones are green, and tried to find the sugar section so I could get my Splenda.
I’d like to say that I was just a little turned around, but at that point I was totally lost. I stood in the middle of the Walmart and fought back big tears. I found the Splenda. I gave it and the wipes and a grapefruit for the next day’s breakfast to my mom, and fled the store to find my mobile, call Simon, and just feel a little normal again.
I’ve recovered from that shock to the system, but I’m sure there are more to come. My America doesn’t exist any more. The me that lived here for the first 37 years of her life has gone into hiding. The me that is here now wants this to be home, but it isn’t. Wasn’t that the whole point of moving back?
I just hope that those of you that know me in person and not just through the tinterweb (that was for you, Liz) will forgive me wincing when a car zips past on the left, or my looking for loos and lifts, and you’ll love the new me as much as the one that left. Thanks again for your support to now…I couldn’t have made it back home…again…without you.