Last night I had a dream about the St. Vincent de Paul store in Bremerton. The dream was so real and detailed, from the smell of the place to the likely content of each rack and display counter, I woke up expecting to have an excellent thrifted wool coat to wear.
But it was just a dream, and I sat on the edge of the bed looking at the river and thinking about all the bits and pieces I dragged from the states to our new home in England. It is probably time to get rid of some of the ephemera of that old life.
There is one thing I will always keep. I've been wearing this wedding ring since my grandmother bought it for one dollar at the St. Vincent store, before the move from the old bank building. She just liked the look of it, and didn't know that it was actually white gold, or that it wouldn't fit any of the grownups in the family. Since I have tiny hands that never grew the ring fit me, and I've been wearing it since I was just a kid. The ring has nothing to do with my marital status. It reminds me of my grandmother, and growing up on the peninsula.
For those who may have wondered about the reasons: my expatriate manifesto can be found in the Home & Away issue of Bitch: Feminist Response to Pop Culture.
Repudiating the month of January has turned out to be the best idea ever. No stress, no sadness, no birthday!
The weather here is, to my profound surprise, a vast improvement on the Pacific Northwest. Days are short but never stormy; there are stiff winds but only occasional rain.
On what would have been January 7 packages started to arrive: from Stella & Al an MFK Fisher reader and wax sandwich bags and a calendar, with assorted treats for the other family members. From my in-laws Ziploc bags and a sweet card. From Gabriel several lovely illustrated postcards. From my changeling cousin a kind remembrance of our shared birthday. From Amanda an envelope filled with surprises and a hat she knitted just for me! The note attached said she thought all of my other crafty friends had probably already supplied me with such gear. But truthfully, no matter how many hats or scarves or socks they knit for each other, nobody ever includes me in that gesture of affection, so this was a particularly poignant gift. There were email wishes from all manner of friends near and far, and in the days since then slips for more packages keep falling through the mail slot.
My children gave me oven gauntlets and a meat thermometer. Byron gave me a Pogues cd because I left all of my albums in Portland, and hearing Fairytale of New York relentlessly playing throughout the city over the holiday made us nostalgic for all of our lost shiny vinyl.
At the weekend I picked a treat: we went to the Canal Museum, then walked along the Regent Canal and through the Camden Lock complex, ignoring the crowds and squinting at the outlines of the old buildings. Later we went to Brick Lane and ate Urubeesi Gaata at The Shampan.
This week I have been working relentlessly against various deadlines, building fires in the boat and huddling in front of the crackle of wood and glow of coal, ignoring the cygnets who occasionally tap on the window asking for bread.
I'm thirty-four now, and it feels pretty good.