The new house is narrow and three stories high and furnished with not much more than a baby grand piano. Other than sitting on the piano bench and looking out through french doors at the garden I am still at a loss -- the household goods passed customs but have not yet been released to our care. I have urgent deadlines predicated on work that cannot be completed without my other computer, bored children who want their rooms back, and a traveling husband who keeps ending up in the emergency room.
I miss my friends and my mother. Though my opinion is that they should all just follow me here.
When I unpacked the suitcases I found another set of random mix tapes that seem to consist almost entirely of the music I listened to in 1985. The current theme song is What Difference Does it Make?
Internet access is once again sketchy, so if you are expecting email, please pardon my silence.
Everything we own was shipped by barge in early June. The only cds left out of the shipment were simply overlooked, not chosen. For the last several weeks we have had a grand total selection of Franz Ferdinand and the Dennis Driscoll Talent Show album. Thankfully Susan mailed us some live Gillian Welch & David Rawlings or we may have gone mad. But as it stands, the only thing the teenager will let us play is Dennis Driscoll, so the move will forevermore be associated with that whimsical young man and his musings about love, longing, and his hometown Ilwaco.
This is the last day in our temporary apartment. I need to pack the suitcases once again, coaxing the children to locate whatever precious things they have stashed around the place. Byron is in Boston, selling our Seattle house via fax from his hotel and visiting as many dear friends as possible when he isn't at the conference. He is supposed to come back to England tomorrow, then fly back to Seattle at the weekend, and somewhere in the middle of all this our household goods will have passed customs and we will celebrate the girls birthday with a short trip to London. Oh, and we have to unpack, start the utilities, get a phone number, arrange internet access, and the kids need to visit their new schools.
Not to mention the fact that Byron has to actually go to work. I have to do the final copyedits on Mamaphonic and also finish the memoir.
The idyll has ended and I'm going to be a wee bit busy this week. But at least I'll have my cds back.
The first few weeks in a new country have passed rapidly in part because we are staying in temporary digs and still living out of suitcases. This is not much fun, even though the apartment is more posh than we deserve, and our collective family anxiety level was slowly rising even before Byron ended up in hospital with an asthma attack the morning before he flew back to the states for a conference. We are now so disheveled that we have reverted to the comforting strategy of singing Chorus songs while meandering about Stourbridge Common. Though we have no songbook at hand and have forgotten many verses - so we go from a fragment of Union Maid to a snippet of Barrett's Privateers to a mixed up rendition of Rote Zora. The song I wish we knew all the way through is Ramblin' Rover:
Well there's sober men and plenty
Well there's many who feign enjoyment
Back home in the apartment we have been entranced by copious lashings of television time. It is in fact amazing to sit here and watch the BBC for hours on end, in part because the quality is much lower than I had imagined growing up on imports. The regular programming consists almost entirely of tedious reality shows, many of which are based around the theme of real estate. People sell houses. Buy houses. Decorate houses. Renovate houses. I watch even though I'm not particularly interested, mainly because I haven't had a television in so long this access takes on the allure of a secret vice.
Beyond the home shows this country is mad for relocation stories - an hour doesn't pass without some dramatic short documentary about people going off to start a new life somewhere. Though they never seem to have capital, savings, or jobs, which seems rather stupid to me. Though maybe I'm just too keen on stability. Despite my cultural and aesthetic preference for risk and adventure, I always have an infrastructure or at least a plan.
It is possible that my puzzlement over these shows may have more to do with the fact that I would never want to be a hotelier, takeaway shop owner, or guide for rich tourists on adventure holidays.
I am not experiencing culture shock by definition. This is after all the country where my primary language was devised. However, having said that, there are a few strange differences between the UK and the US.
First of all, instead of pronouncing Adidas Uh - dee - duhs they say A - eh - dee - dass. Which might not have come to my attention except they seem mad for the brand.
Secondly, the washing machine has a capacity of perhaps three towels which it can successfully launder and dry if you allow four hours. I'm not joking. Many of our friends line dry to circumvent the process but our allergies preclude this solution so my days are dogged by washing clothes.
The only other general observations are more regional than cultural. The weather here is much like my memories of growing up on the Kitsap Peninsula: cold and wet with occasional sun. Also, people had assured me that the English are reticent and polite but my spectacles are soliciting full-on stares of a nature I have never had to deal with. Strange.
I am moving to England today.