Lost…but not in translation…

Hey Anne?  This is the purple sofa I wanted to
marry and bear children….

This is going to be a fairly personal episode of the Lettuce, so if that sort of thing makes you twitchy you might want to hit the back button on your browser.

Ever since I moved back to the US on 19 May, 2011, I have been lost.  At first I was lost because I was back in my foreign home.  Let me give you an example.  One of the first things I did was go to Walmart with my parents to pick up some things I needed.  After about ten minutes in the store, I had to go outside and ring My Mister (who was still in the UK and, sadly, didn’t get it) and take some deep breaths because it was just too much.  Too much choice.  Too much colour.  Too much light.  Too much.

I had come back here to stop being lost in the UK.  But what I’ve found is that I wasn’t lost when I was there at all.  I was me, the me that doesn’t have to be the best greyhound parent or the competent seamstress or the flawless interpreter.  I didn’t have a lot of the distractions or responsibilities there that I have here. There weren’t as many people there for me to disappoint.  My Mister and I spent a lot of time together because basically we had…each other.

Don’t get me wrong, he had friends and family there, but because I was not as outgoing as I could have been, I only had a few friends and my inlaws.  But My Mister and I are different in that way…he doesn’t depend on his friends to define him like I do.

I thought that the things that kept me from being lost were in the USA:  Greyhound Crossroads.  The Hounds of East Fairhaven.  Follow That Hound.  My Deaf and Interpreter friends.  Wrong.  Since I’ve been back, I’ve had to take a job that isn’t really what I wanted to do so that I could afford to bring My Mister and Daisy over from the UK and adopt Clowny.  I’m still in that job because there isn’t anything in my field that would offer a comparable salary.  I see things every day that make me regret the cowardice that led me back here two years ago.

I wish I could wind up this post with a happy and confident “but now I’m no longer lost” sentiment, but I can’t.  Maybe tomorrow.  Maybe Christmas if we make it over to visit my inlaws and my adopted home.  Maybe not.  I try to remember that “not all who wander are lost” and see myself as wandering instead…but that refrain is getting old.  Very, very old.  Is this the curse of the repatriate?

One of my expat/repat friends has a statement on one of her signature graphics that says something about coming home to find what has changed is you…maybe that is what’s going on after all.

Again, for Cathie and Leah…

Daisy in Orange by Nancy Dunne
Daisy in Orange, a photo by Nancy Dunne on Flickr.

…I’ve got my blogging face on! Well, I had it on last Thursday, as well as my Sad Dog Owner face AND my I’m Trying to Avoid Homicide face.

Daisy came back “home” to the US last Thursday. She flew all by her little self from Manchester, England, to Atlanta, Georgia. Simon and I made arrangements via a pet relocation service to get her on her way, and we were assured of a certain number of things upon handing over almost $1600 to them.

On the day, everything started well and Simon and his dad got Daisy to the airport and checked in on time. She was xrayed and then sent on her way, and apparently her flight was fine and she actually got to Atlanta 10 minutes ahead of schedule.

My friend Joanne and I headed down to pick her up. We were told by the relocation folks in England that all I would have to do is turn up at the Air Cargo warehouse, pay my import fee of $50, present them with an airbill number, and they would then hand Daisy over to me. That is not exactly what happened.

The very very very nice man at the warehouse told me that while Daisy was on the ground and on her way to the warehouse, I wasn’t going to be able to collect her that night because she’d arrived too close to the time that the customs officers at the warehouse leave for the day. I assured him that we’d been told that they were there 24-7. He assured me with a very sad look on his face that they left at 5 every day, and any animals that arrived too close to that deadline would be taken to a nearby kennel for the night and their owners could collect them. I told him that we hadn’t sent any food with her and he said they would feed her. I told him that we feed her raw and further we’d paid a lot of money to get her on that flight and I was not leaving without her. He looked like he was going to cry but told me he couldn’t do anything. I went in the bathroom, cried a little, swore a lot, and then got on the phone to Delta.

Oh, easy, the lovely representative I spoke with said. You get her paperwork from them, take it to customs in the actual airport, they will approve it, and then you bring it back. I told the guy that, he grinned and got to work on her paperwork. He asked if I knew where to go, and I said that all she had told me was “customs.”

All of you who fly regularly…where is customs in an airport? Yep, you got it, inside the secure area where you need a boarding pass to get through. A boarding pass assumes that you are BOARDING a flight. See a problem yet?

I got to the airport and NO ONE could tell me where I needed to go to get a gate pass to get through to customs. I spent an hour just finding out that I had to go on my own to find a TSA agent to get a gate pass. Only, that’s NOT what I had to do at all, I needed to go to DELTA to get a gate pass (where I started, an hour prior). There is something about telling a ticketing agent that TSA sent you that makes them very snarky, just so you know before you try it. Finally, I had my gate pass and I was going through security.

One full body scan later, I was on the train under the airport to the concourse at the complete other end of the airport for international arrivals/departures and customs. I spent most of hour two since leaving the warehouse getting to that concourse and then sitting while the customs agent checked her paperwork and finally stamped it. Back through security (thankfully no full body scan this time), back on the train, back to the car and by 8:40pm we were waiting on them to wheel Daisy’s crate out. For those keeping score, that was four hours after she arrived in Atlanta, and a whopping EIGHTEEN hours after she was put in her crate at Manchester Airport.

My baby girl hadn’t made a single mess in her crate. Bless. I was so happy to see her that I just sat there and held her for a minute, big stupid tears rolling as she wiggled to get away from me and glare back at her box. And now she’s here, she’s learning about being one of five dogs in a house instead of the only one, and she’s taking most of it in stride. I think I’ve seen her snarl more in the past two days than I have since I’ve had her.

A strongly worded complaint will be issued to Delta because that was just unacceptable. Not only did the right hand not know what the left hand was doing, but I don’t think it knew there WAS a left hand.

There is a positive, though…Simon’s visa was approved at his interview a week ago today, and on this past Friday he got his passport and the Mysterious Brown Sealed Envelope that he has to take AS IS to customs when he arrives in the States to stay.

Well…to stay until I’ve had it with my life here and feel that old need to move on…but hopefully that won’t be for a long time yet.

Spring…in February?

I went across the way today to grab lunch at the student center and was struck by how WARM it is. WARM, y’all. Like open the sun roof and put Kid Rock on the radio, warm. Like I can’t believe this time last year I was freezing, warm!

I was reminded in that short walk of one of the reasons why I wanted to move our family to the United States. While there are many, MANY lovely things about the UK and England in particular, and I do miss parts of it every single day…the weather is not one of those things.

61F in February. 16C. That’s the great British Summer if you live up north like I did. I had to TAKE OFF MY SCARF outdoors because I was TOO HOT. (I didn’t even bring a coat today!)

Oh, and in other news…she’s coming home. Very soon. Like next week soon if at all possible. And then she can think I’m a dork and a geek and whatever all in person, and it will be okay, because she will be HERE. With ME. Mei Mei. Life might be starting to get a little bit…good?

Okay, for the last time…

1. I’ve started calling it a lift. Deal with it.

2. I’m going to use British words sometimes instead of American ones. If you understand what I said, why do you feel the need to correct me? It really makes NO sense.

3. I just spent two years of my life over there. Some things are going to rub off. They may or may not go away after I’ve been here awhile.

4. Just so you know, laughing at how Simon pronounces things, unless you’re me and allowed (because he can laugh at my pronunciation) is rude. End of. Yes, I realise it’s a double-standard. I don’t care.

I now return you to your regularly scheduled mocking. (It’s been one of those days…)

There and Back again…and again…

The Dunnes
Originally uploaded by Nancy Dunne

Well, it has been two weeks shy of two months since I’ve seen that handsome devil in the picture with me (taken in May 2010 in York). I was losing hope that I’d see him before Christmas. I was losing my mind. I was losing my grip on politeness and definitely losing my composure.

Today we found a cheap flight…and now my world has righted a bit. I will be back in the UK to visit from 16-31 August. Back with no car. Back on the buses and trains and in taxis. Back at Sainsbury’s and ASDA and eating at Nando’s. Back right next to Mr. Dunne, and you’ll be hard pressed to pull me away from him, at least not for very long.

I can’t wait. I can’t wait for the English voices on the tannoy. I can’t wait for Daisy to be curled up on me on the sofa and Mills to be purring in my hair as I go to sleep at night. My family is the most important thing to me in the world, and I can’t wait for all of us to be on the same continent, even if it is only for two weeks.

Roll on August!