Tuesday, January 20, 2009

UK Jitters

I've got the fear. I feel a bit silly admitting it, but I think I am scared of visiting England.

The last few days at our place have included almost hourly discussions about our homeland. And each time, I feel panicky. The UK conversations between Him Downstairs and I have me dancing with excitement one minute and crashing to tears and anxiety the next.

You see, I haven't been back for over two years and right now, I have UK withdrawal BIG TIME. I need to smell Persil laundry detergent again, wash my hair with Timotei and eat fish and chips out of vinegar soaked paper. But, as we talk and try to plan a trip for 09, the memories of the goodbyes from the last visit awaken from their sleepy coffin and the fear grips me. I think, 'Can I go through that again?'

I'm going to have to. We have to go. Our visas have to be renewed and we're having sod all luck getting an appointment at a Canadian Embassy. Anyway, I'd rather take a holiday to London England, than Toronto or Halifax Canada, right now.

So, I've been spending hours on Northwest Airlines website, searching for flights, whilst Him Downstairs spends hours on hold with the US Embassy in London, trying to secure us appointments.

I cannot wait to see my girlfriends. I want to hug their kids and see my boys play with them. These little people who are now strangers to each other, but were once so close in utero. I know my heart will beat a little faster when I clock the lack of recognition on their faces as they fail to remember meeting me before. It will make me sad. It's one of the things I'm scared of; being a stranger to them, yet their mummies are still as important to me and my life in the US as they were to me and my life in the UK.

If my reaction to watching Last Chance Harvey - a movie set in London with scene after scene shot in some of my favourite places, is anything to go by, I definitely need a UK fix. I swooned and swooned as the film unfolded, evoking memories of my former Life in the Big City. Strolls along the Embankment, dates at Somerset House, a party at The Grosvenor - my past all mixed up in the celluloid I was lost in.

When the film finished, my movie buddy turned to me and said, "You're going to go home and book a flight now aren't you?" I would have driven straight to the airport if I'd had my passport on me!

Yes, I cannot wait to go get me a piece of England again, but I know what it will do to me. And it's not nice.

For starters, I'll cry all the way back on the plane as I clutch my Jelly Tots, Minstrels, and M&S Percy Pigs. Then for about two or three weeks after I arrive back home, I'll spend hour upon hour trawling property finder websites to see where and how much it will cost us to come live in the UK again, whilst sobbing into my Hula Hoops.

I'll mourn and mourn again The Life I Once Knew in the UK, and beat myself up about giving it all up to come to America. I hate those post-UK-visit weeks. I hate that just as I've reconnected with my friends and their children, I have to say goodbye. Most of all, I hate that there's not one darn thing I can do about it.

Well, except land myself an amazingly well-paid job in England, that will afford us all to move back and for Him Downstairs to be stay-at-home dad. And that's about as likely as me becoming the next American Idol.

Yes. You've heard me sing then?

The only good thing about post-UK blues, is that I have some close Brit girl friends over here, and we've seen each other go through this many times, so each of us knows how it feels. I will cling to their shoulders of support, until the fear and tears fade. Then, as if the trip had never happened, suddenly and without warning, life will just go back to its US normality.

Yesterday, I said to eldest prince, Cheeky, "Would you like to move back to England one day?"

" Why Mummy?" he replied. "This is my home. This is where our house is."

He has no idea of the extra fear he just put in his mummy's heart.


  1. I only live 350 miles away from my country but I love it and miss it with a profound ache. I truly understand what it's like to miss your familiarity and comfort. My whole identity is bound up in being Scottish

    My children were 8, 5 and 3 when I left Scotland and are now 16, 13 and 12, each one of them has lived longer in England than Scotland.

    But they still feel Scottish and talk about going home, as soon as I sell my holiday villa, I'll have enough money and then we can all go home.
    I found reminding them of their Scottishness before I fed them or gave them nice treats helped, Pavlovian creature that I am but I've stopped making them sing Scotland the Brave before I feed them ! Social services were getting too interested

  2. Where ever you travel in the world you always have your cyber friends too - and we don't mind where you are!

    You are really lucky to have found another life in another country. If you were leaving the States to live in the UK you would be sad to leave your American friends behind too.
    I should revel in the fact that you have two wonderful homes on both sides of the Atlantic and another one up there in the ether that is blogopolis!

    Wishing you the very very best of luck and a wonderful journey.
    (and, speaking on behalf of the Blog to Fit trio) not TOO many bags of Percy Pigs eh?

  3. ag - Time to hang the Union Jack by our front door and start singing the British National Anthem before I serve the sapg bol then isn't it?
    I hope as my boys grow up in the US I will still be able to make them aware and respectful of their UK routes. Obviously they're so little still, that they probably aren't even aware that Mummy and Daddy have a different accent from them.
    I can but try and as long as we keep being brave and keep visiting England when we can, I think it'll be OK.
    Bless you Auntie Gwen! x

    Tara - Ok, so it'll just be the one packet of Percy Pigs then! Promise.
    You are right about how I would be sad to leave US friends behind too. That is actually my biggest fear - to one day move back to England and not like it. It'd be like discovering the love of your life has cheated on you...

  4. Ah, but you know what? life gets so busy when you have a family that even my friends who live on the other side of London have kids that look at me like a stranger! At least you have your Brit friends in the US and it sounds as if you have forged a lovely life over there too.

  5. Aw Mom/Mum.... I really got a sense of what it must be like to say goodbye each time from this, although I have never done such a brave thing as you and upped sticks to another country! It sounds like you have so many happy memories and feelings wrapped up in the UK although they make you sad every time you leave. With all the best things comes the good and bad sides so embrace it, eat up every moment of your trip and when the painful bit washes over you, just know it'll go away soon. And we'll all send blog love over the web and Percy Pigs in the post! x

  6. nvg - You're so right! i know if i lived in the Uk again, I wouldnt get to see my nearerst and dearest friends all that often anyhow as we all live in different parts of the country, and like you say, family life gets in the way and the months quickly slip past. I guess that is the advantage of making new friends stateside - we all live in the same area and see each other practically every day.
    It is a nice life here, but like anywhere, it;s not without its trials! you still coming over?

    that girl - Awww you say the nicest things.Thank you. you know what? I probably see the Uk through rose tinted glasses now, and I certainly didnt view it like that when I lived there, hence I wouldn't have jumped at the chance to come to America. You just can't win can you?!

  7. We talk of winning the lottery and spending 6 months a year on each side of the Atlantic as the perfect compromise ;-)

    DH would love it. The children are so thoroughly American though, I know they'd be thoroughly discombobulated.

  8. AA - now wouldn't that be just the perfect solution!..x

  9. There's just one slight flaw in my plan though . . .

  10. AA - Oh dont leave me hanging like that. Enlighten me????

  11. I so know how you feel. My best friend in England is Irish and she went home to Dublin over New Year and came back in her characteristic funk. She called me in tears after having been in the dry cleaners and the Irish woman at the till said that she had been in England for 40 years and that part of her life (not feeling homesick after a trip) never got easier. And, it doesn't get easier although I will say that I try and go back to New York for a long weekend, a couple of times a year on my own and that seems to take the edge off.

    This is a post I can relate to albeit in the reverse!

  12. Thank you Audrey you are lucky to get to go to NYC a few times a year. I hope one day to be able to do london for long weekends on my own. As organising this Uk trip with the kids is turning out to be a logistical challenge!

  13. The flaw in my plan? Well, that would be the need to win the lottery in the first place!

  14. Children are adaptable - it's the parents that aren't. I can't imagine what it's like, but even the faint possibility that we may have to leave - not just the UK, but London - sends me into a downward spiral

  15. Awww, that is a lovely post! LOL about the Timoteii -- I'm the same way! Also, love my Elnet hairspray although Target have just started selling it over here.

    We are looking to go for a holiday sometime this year too -- fingers crossed we find some inexpensive flights and the time! It'll be 4 years for me!

  16. PM - Yes you're so right! Am sure the boys would be OK anywhere as long as they had their toys with them and an endless supply of Thomas on the TV! It's crazy but i too used to shudder at the thought of leaving London, let alone the Uk and now I am a wreck at the thought of going back there....how the circle of life plays these emotional tricks on us eh?
    But, it's done now - the tickets are booked. So, top tips for places to take little boys in the big smoke please?!

    crunchie - Elnet in target - no.7 in target - really, it's like we never left home in that store these days eh?!
    I got my flights albeit it after they'd stopped the promo fares, but what the heck. I'm going now and fears aside, I cannot wait!

  17. Mom/Mum - the grass is always greener, eh? I wonder if it is something to do with our generation that we somehow are always wondering...what if...we lived here/over there/in that bigger house/in France/in the country/in the city??
    Home is where your family are. You and your boys.
    It will be OK this UK visit (altho I wish you weren't visiting in a rubbish month when the trees have no leaves, the sky is grey and everybody is miserable - that's not going to make you fall in love with the place again!) I am sure there will be things you will love again and things that you'll think, 'they do that so much better in the US'. One things for sure - EVERYTHING is going to seem smaller. Especially our house!! Can't wait to catch up xxxx

  18. I totally felt everything you said here. I was dreading leaving even before I set foot in the first airport! I KNOW how you feel. I left everything in Scotland in April after a 5-year hiatus and came back to Montana to a dreich, straw-grass coloured-blah nothingness. What a stark contrast to what I left!

    Have fun, and enjoy EVERY second!

    Beautiful post.