Thursday, December 16, 2010

In a State of Denial

So the past few weeks have been manic.

The final two weeks of November I was simply packing like a woman possessed.  And, although I say so myself, really - I should turn professional.  I think I might have found my true calling.  There was no sentiment attached to the appraisal of every inanimate object before making a split second decision on pack/donate/bin.  I am the Queen of sorting out tat.  And boy, even after the cull I did in the summer, we still seemed to have accrued mountains of it.

Well, not any more.  With any luck I will be unpacking a shipment of 113 items (don't ask me how it is that many...but the last minute purchase of essential sleds and skateboards didn't help) safe in the knowledge that every item swathed in acres of paper is essential to my London existence.  I wonder how long it will take me to accumulate fresh hordes of unnecessary tat to fill every cupboard and drawer?  Despite my best intentions I am hedging my bets and guessing April, at the very latest.

Packing my clothes, for what could be up to 2 months, presented the biggest dilemma.  I resolved the issue of what single pair of boots to wedge in the case by the age old technique of "ippa-dippa-dation-my-operation-how-many-people-at-the-station?"  It's not the most scientific technique available.   Or the most effective, because there isn't a single day that has gone by that I don't rue the pair I should have selected instead.  How on earth did I think this pair of boots was The One?  Oh well.  I guess if this is the extent of my packing regrets, I haven't done too badly.

In fact, everything went accordingly to plan except for one thing.  The most important thing.  The cat.  Yes, after all the cat drama and trauma of the past few weeks you would think I had had my fill for the year and that, by rights, everything regarding my surviving cat, Bert, should have been tickety-boo.  This was not the case.

He was successfully collected by the specialist pet shipper, I handed over all the relevant paperwork and waved a tearful goodbye.  How am I going to get through the next 48 hours, I thought to myself, until I know he is safely at my dad's?  Oh famous last thoughts.  If only it had turned out to be just 48 hours of concern.  Turns out there is a minor discrepancy in his rabies certifications, which means he needs to endure 6 months of quarantine.  I still can't think about it without feeling sick and distraught way beyond the point of tears.  I have investigated every avenue and potential solution (of course) but there is no alternative aside from shipping him back to Chicago.  So as I type he is currently imprisoned in a farm in Essex, being looking after by a very caring woman called Kim and her team.  My dad visited last week and said he was purring up a storm and seemed in good health.  But still.  It is the last thing I wanted for him and I am mad as hell at the vet and the customs bureaucrats...but, most of all, myself.

It's sod's law that something had to go awry at the last minute.  But I really wish it had been something other than the cat being effectively punished by my desire to move.

I am now safely encamped at a close friend's beautiful house in one of the nicest neighbourhoods in Chicago.  This was not the wisest idea, on reflection, because I am enjoying myself so much that leaving is the last thing on my mind.  In fact, I am in a total state of denial about the fact that I will be boarding a plan in just 10 days time, possibly never to return.  I just can't think about it.  I don't have the emotional capacity to face the enormity of this move in any shape or form.  So for the most part I am simply ignoring it, pretending nothing remotely out of the ordinary is on the horizon and specifically avoiding friends incase we get caught up in a frenzy of sentimental goodbyes that crack my "I am handling this okay" veneer.

The boys are doing remarkably well.  Christmas is a big distraction - which is both a blessing and a curse.  So much more to pack.  So much more to coordinate, on top of everything else.  We have additional 'mini-xmas' celebrations planned with family and friends when we get home, so with any luck they will be distracted until at least mid-January.  They are a combination of excited and anxious about the move.  It breaks my heart a little to witness the extraordinary bonds they have with their close friends and know that those friendships - which mean everything to them on a daily basis - are going to be lost.  We will keep in touch with many of these boys and girls, and even see many of them as they visit the UK on a regular basis (oh, the beauty of attending an International school).  But it won't be the same.  And that makes me sad.

In fact there are many things I will miss about being in Chicago, now I think about it.  Juicy steak that is always cooked to perfection (who cares about the steriods, it just adds to the flavour).  Huge parallel parking spaces in every garage you encounter.  A clean glass of iced water presented immediately upon arrival at any cafe, restaurant or bar.  Click and Clack The Tappit Brothers radio show on NPR.  Closely followed by Wait, Wait Don't Tell Me.  The most incredible city skyline I have ever seen in the world.  Intense blue summer skies refecting into a cobalt blue lake, which is so immense it resembles an ocean.  The sale room in Anthropology.  The sale rail at Club Monaco.  Half and half for my morning coffee.  Dunkin Donuts vanilla coffee (you can get it in a styrefoam bucket, exactly how you like it - extra cream and one sugar for me - for under $2).  Drinking cocktails on the 95th floor of the John Hancock building.  The noise of the el clattering about my head, as the trains wind their way above the city streets.  The efficiency of the snow ploughs and gritting trucks when a blizzard hits.  The ability to buy a beautiful DKNY cozy sweater (retailing at $195 plus tax) on clearance for just $29 at Marshalls.  And don't get me started on the delights of my local supermarket Trader Joe's.  The fact that I couldn't ship home a huge box of edible goodies is one of my biggest disappointments.

Anyway, I don't have the luxury of thinking about all the things I am going to miss just yet.

I am far too preoccupied with the thought of how many layers of clothes I am going to have to wear on the plane, because my case simply won't accommodate the bags of must-have bargains I have been insane enough to purchase the past 2 weeks.  Goddam you Banana Republic and your ridiculous sale.  It is your fault and your fault alone that I am going to look like the bloody Michelin Man at check in.

So if you happen to be at Heathrow on the 28th December and you spot a rather hot and bothered person resembling a bag lady and wearing what appears to be her entire wardrobe...well, that will be me.


  1. Wow, it's really happening. Will be thinking of you over the next couple of weeks... x

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  3. Good luck with the move. As an american living in London I can sympathize with all the things you mentioned that you will miss. I am still sad that there is no Trader Joes over here. But we do have a couple of Whole Foods, one in Camden and a huge one in Kensington. Not quite the same, but close.

  4. Can't believe it's finally happening. I can only imagine the emotional rollercoaster you must be on right now. But hang on tight, do up the seatbelt and you'll be fine.

  5. Good luck with the move. I can sympathise a little. I'm home in Australia for a month with the kids and finding myself homesick for Malaysia! I can't believe it. My thoughts are with you m'dear. Good luck, deep breath and hang on for the ride. We're all with you! Hugs.

  6. Again breathless reading. Good luck with the move! (As for the international friends - if you stayed, that kind of person moves away at some point anyway. And the cat will be fine. Just remember for a person this would be bad, for a cat without long term memory etc it's okay. (We visited a dog psychologist when our dog had to do the same thing moving to Scotland. A pet is not a person. They don't get damaged like that. The dog was fine when he rejoined us.))

  7. You are nearly there! It's so stressful moving countries, but once you are there you can focus on all the positives about being back in England. Yes, you will miss Chicago but you will have your friends and family, not to mention that cat. And there is an Anthropologie in Chelsea now!

    (I'm sad that we didn't get to do those cocktails on the 95th floor though....)

  8. Good luck and lmao at the bag lady/banana republic comment.

  9. What a really good post. I liked your typo that you will be boarding a plan. Yes. You will indeed be boarding a plan. Good for you.

    Click and Clack - aren't they fantastic?

  10. Very best of luck with the trip and Happy Christmas! I think they have pretty good clothes shopping in England too, I bet you can stream NPR on the internet, and Marks and Spencers food halls can compete with good old Trader Joe!

  11. Thank you for reading my sporadic posts and providing such incredible support, despite my terrible lack of supporting your blogs right now. Please accept my apologies. This will change. But please know that your continued support and encouragement means the world to me. Thank you! thank you! thank you xx

  12. Here's hoping you manage to get everything into those suitcases! Hope the trip goes smoothly.

    I think you can listen to Click and Clack online and Wait, Wait is available as a podcast.