Thursday, October 17, 2013

Everyday vs Different

I push my way through the slog of normal everyday life.  Making breakfasts and lunches and dinners for a few of us or many, cleaning up messes both substantial and miniscule, washing clothes and dishes and small people's hair, reading aloud, thinking aloud, talking loudly, speaking softly. All these things I've done for so long, here in this place, standing still yet so busy.

But my thoughts are occupied in trudging through a long, slow goodbye to all I have known and grown to love in the last thirteen years of my life here in Britain. My normal is changing. Not just that gradual change of passing time, but the all-encompassing change that a move brings.  And not just a move down the hill, or across the city. This is a move to the other side of the Atlantic: a "big" move.  Culturally --yes-- but literally, too. This is going to be something Different.

I've written before about how it feels to think of returning to the culture in which I was born and raised. Today, I'm thinking about how it feels to be leaving this one.

So many thoughts, all sketchy but infused with feeling.  I remember the day I stepped from the plane onto British soil for the first time, sixteen years ago.  Late August sun blazed bright, but the air was fresh and crisp. I fell in love, totally enamoured, with the velvety purple colour of the heathered hillsides.  Blinking in that sunshine, watching the cloud shadows skim across the moors of the Borders, everything seemed new and invigorating but also somehow familiar. I felt as if I was returning to a place that had once been home. 

After that first year, I returned, this time to England, two years later.  I spent many years settling, easing, establishing, learning.  It was much easier than I'd imagined, as if I was slotting my self into a place that was waiting for me.  So much of it fitted with me, with who I was as a person, just as if I were returning to a faraway home.

But now, all feels different.  Different is not knowing when or if we will be back.  Will it be as a family, or one by one, or not at all?  Righty is already saving money to visit New Zealand someday, and Lefty is currently [this week] considering a future career with MI5 when he's not storm-chasing.  I have a feeling that my wandering feet have been gifted to my children, too.  

But someday I will return, even if alone, retracing steps to the places I love.  I will go back to Figsbury Ring, on the Salisbury Plain, and remember.  I will stand in the biting wind and look for my children, my friends, my father and mother, my sister and brother, my husband, there once more. The grassy mound will be empty, apart from myself, but I will see them as they were when we went there together.

I will return to this town, this grubby bustling Midlands city that so many seem to hate, and search for familiar faces.  They will have disappeared, but I will remember.  The familiar treks and paths will open again to me and the past will be there, waiting for me.

I'll go back to the north, to Scotland, where I first arrived.  I will see myself as I was then: seventeen, breathing in everything that was fresh as the cold sea-salt air, new and exciting, and wonder where the years have gone.

It's a weight, this responsibility as a parent.  Which culture to choose for our children?  Because, unlike many, we can choose. We take our own with us, I know, but as parents we're not everything to them.  They will soak up their environment with us, the beautiful as well as the ugly, but the further culture will wash over them too and become part of them. Their accents will change and their horizons increase. Their days of riding round in tiny muddy circles on little bikes in our pocket of a back garden will expand to include gravel roads and grassy fields and bigger bicycles, and something Different. Our car trips and adventures to National Trust homes, our train journeys, the hours spent walking around our town, will all be exchanged for something Different.  I'm capitalising Different because for me it is like the personification of the new.

I don't want to fear Different even though there is so much to fear, because in reality I have no idea what Different will look like.

I only know what I will miss right here, right now, in this Everyday.


  1. it will be good.. different to what you are expecting.. God has good in store for you all.. that little family has grown and needs space.. the UK can wait.. who knows, you you may come back.. Embrace the changes.. for now.. do not fear xx We love you all xx

    1. Thanks for the encouragement!! Love you all too... :)

    2. Oh my life, I am crying! Really, you write so beautifully, I can hear your voice. Will miss you and your beautifulness. xxx

  2. Yep, crying... you touch my heart Erin xxx

  3. Thanks for saying so, Kathryn... will miss you too!

  4. Another beautiful read, Erin. Thank you.

    Ever belonging to one and the other, mourning the old place while longing for the new, bracing yourself for the journey and the change as you might on a ship in a storm or on a fairground ride in that halting moment before the dip. Run the length and breadth of those mountains and plains, Erin, they are your for the remembering, in beautiful words, and yours for the discovering, with bated breath and a thudding heart.
    Both sad and glad, you might say: "Here or there, once an expat', ever an expat'..." In other words, you belong here and there, past, present and future. That's what I've mostly felt anyhow.
    Your hearts are big enough to encompass and welcome what is coming without forgetting what went before. I'm confident you'll enjoy the adventure each in your own ways as well as together.
    And very importantly, our home is always open, even though this side of the sea may be a bit further to walk!

    1. Thanks, Dominique... you never know; we might take you up on that someday! :)

  5. Anonymous11:46 pm

    I teared up too...and you are coming my direction?! Love you xxCaligirl xx

    1. A bit closer, anyway!! :)

    2. Thanks for sharing, Erin. We have been through similar experiences. It took me about a year to adjust to India, now I'm am wondering how it will feel when we visit England this December. I'm sure my outlook has now changed in various ways and I will view the UK with new eyes. Same for the children. Rebecca was born here and is yet to experience another country. Samuel has more memories from our year in the States and I don't think Naomi remembers the UK at all. Sorry we won't be able to see you when we visit but hopefully our paths will cross someday. Thank God for the internet to keep in touch. Hoep all goes well with your move.
      Love from all our family to yours,

    3. Thank you, Viv! I'm sorry we will miss you when you visit in December, but let's keep in touch! Love to all of you too. :)

  6. Hiya. I have just learnt through Becky's FB that you are all leaving. The grapevine isn't as connected as I first thought!

    I met you both all those years ago at Small Street, before you were married. That really does seem to be a lifetime ago, and considering all that has happened since then it may as well be a lifetime. I recall our chats at reception, Dan wanting Snickers bars by the dozen, and the time he prayed for me after I had been burgled shortly after my mom had passed away. I will also always recall fondly that the twins share my birthday.

    Our paths have diverged over the years and I've not seen either of you for some time. However, that time does not change the fondness I hold in my heart for you all, along with a real admiration. You both inject life in to the lives of those you come in to contact are heavily infectious with the love of God, sharing it with all. Your new neighbours in the States will be blessed to have you nearby, and Walsall will be so much the poorer without you.

    May God continue to bless you richly as you start the next phase of your lives in that Different place. There will always be a home here in Walsall for you.



    1. Thank you, Colin, for all your kind words. Small Street does seem a lifetime away; time passes so quickly!

  7. Beautiful X (if i wake with puffy eyes in the morning it's all your fault!!!!)


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