Saturday, August 8, 2009
Ah The Internet...My Long Lost Friend
I can't believe the four weeks back in the UK flew by so quickly. And the only fly in the ointment was that I didn't have a chance to participate in the blogging hemisphere. When staying with friends the last thing that I wanted to do was to shut myself away on their computers and miss out on spending time with them. This wasn't such an issue when staying at my dad's but the problem was that the boys were sleeping in the room housing the computer. If I even dared to touch the keyboard when they were awake they were instantly upon me like flies drawn to a turd. And once they were asleep the computer, of course, was out of bounds.
So as much as I didn't want to leave (and I really, really didn't) one consolation was that I could return home to a little bit of peace and quiet and resume my little tete a tete with t'internet.
Well, that was the plan.
The trip was the usual whirlwind of travelling and socialising. Maybe it was the impact of jetlag, but unexpectedly the first week I felt out of place, as though I just didn't belong. This created a frisson of anxiety...if I'm not at home in England or Chicago, where does that leave me? How can everyone drink so much tea, I pondered? The kettle's never bloody off. Why does everyone in Tesco's sound like a yob and is that what I sounded like before I left the UK and cultivated my poor impersonation of a 1960s BBC newsreader in an effort to be understood in Chicago, whilst not developing an American drawl?
I felt full of doubts and uncertainty. Where would I live once back in the UK? How on earth was I going to make it happen? Where would the money come from, for one thing? What about a job? I suddenly felt as though I have been away for a very long time and things no longer felt as familiar as they once had. The realisation that I have spent half of my adulthood (just over 9 years) in another country was shockingly obvious this summer. I started to question whether or not I could transition back and start from scratch. It seemed overwhelming.
But before I knew it my mind stopped analysing all the unanswered questions in my life and I just felt it. Home. I began to feel like me again. The 'me' before I left on our '2 year adventure'. Even the 'me' before my marriage and before parenthood. The person who has faced major challenges in her life and has always come out of the doo-doo smelling of roses. I still don't know the answer to many of the questions I have about moving home next year, but now at least I know the answers will come. And I feel strong enough to face them.
Of course, much of this is down to my friends and family, who, as ever, earned the modern day version of a Blue Peter badge when it comes to entertaining and supporting me. I had so much fun. I was so well looked after - despite the fact that my boys were permanently tired and hyper and not on their best behaviour. The dam did crumble just once - whilst in the midst of scenic Norfolk I awoke to find Captain Underpants had a fever. It just seemed like the last straw. Of course, with all the constant commotion over swine flu in the UK I naturally assumed the worst. On a good day I can be a pretty self-less parent. This was not a good day. All I could think was, 'I don't have the energy to deal with this - I just don't want the aggro. And if I get any less sleep I'm not sure I can cope.' Cue the administration of Calpol and a thousand silent prayers.
Ultimately the fever disappeared as quickly as it had arrived and Captain Underpants seemed non the worse for it. I wish I could say the same for myself. It's never pretty to demonstrate your parenting Achilles heel to your nearest and dearest and by the end of the day I was a sobbing heap. My poor friend. I don't think her shoulder has been that soggy since her youngest was regurgitating mealtimes onto a muslin over 4 years ago. But it was as though a weight had been lifted. Releasing all my pent up emotion was cathartic. Everything suddenly seemed doable.
Before I knew it, it was time to leave. Goodbye lush rolling hills. Goodbye to zipping around motorways at double my typical Chicago speed of travel. Goodbye nearest and dearest. I will be back.
The flight was uneventful and ex picked us up from the airport. "I just need to talk to mummy about the luggage" he told the boys, before dragging me off to one side. He starts to talk to me in an urgent whisper. "Now I know you're going to freak out," are the first words out of his mouth. In a split second I am hearing the subsequent words out of his mouth. I am applying for full custody of the boys. I have fallen in love and am never leaving Chicago and the boys are staying with me. My heart stops. "Your place was broken into this morning. Not sure what has been taken, but the TV and the computer are definitely missing. They have obviously gone through the kitchen drawers and your bedroom. You need to call the police as soon as you get back and I think it is best if the boys come and stay with me tonight and that we don't tell them what has happened."
I breath a sigh of relief. Only broken into? Thank God. Then it hits me. No computer? Bugger. Was planning on writing my blog first thing. What a complete pain in the arse. Welcome home Chicago. Love you too.