No really, cry all night long because you want to go home and you feel incredibly different and it really bothers you that a place exists where people drive on the other side of the road. Welcome to my life. Our first night was..........rough.
Fin stumbled in our room at 1 am, sobbing and shaking. Then Holland. I sat in their dark bedroom for 2 hours, wiping tears, blowing noses, and reassuring them it would get better. I tried not to laugh when Finley worked herself up into her angry rant about the absurdity of the driving here. Could there be anything worse?!
Our life has completely changed, overnight, and that realization is not something I was prepared to work through in the wee hours of the morning with my kids. I knew it would be hard, but I wasn't prepared for them to be so honestly heartbroken. Fin is more strung out than I have ever seen her, and constantly on the verge of tears. Holland is alternately whiny and weepy. We haven't figured out what the new normal is, and I know this is just a transition period, so please don't feel the need to give me a pep talk. (Mostly because I hate them, and secondly, I'm just relating information and that often, and strangely, compels people to talk like high school football coaches.) And it's hard for the adults too. Navigating real estate and a foreign school system while not being able to use your smartphone is a steep learning curve. Also, any decision you make is susceptible to comparison with what you're used to doing or knowing, and that just doesn't apply anymore. There's no point of reference for decision making.
Blah, blah. This means that less than 24 hours after stumbling off the plane, you get a cab to your first appointment (because you forgot, in your jet-lagged haze) to get your Oyster card for the bus and you are sitting in an interview with a man in a suit, asking him what Sixth Forms are, constantly worried you will slip and say "what" instead of "sorry", and wondering if his accent is Scottish. (I cant' begin to catalog the school placement drama right now, but I'll get to it eventually.) So after your hazy meet and greet, you gather your Yankee children and head back to the street, only to find that your cheap candy-bar phone is not working, and you are 5 miles from your flat, and you can't get on the bus, and your kids are beginning to cry. Again.
Life without a smartphone is truly awful. (Which I say without sarcasm, and can't help but feel my 16 yo self mocking my incompetence.)
So where does a bedraggled and lost American family go? To McDonald's of course. Just one block away, the glowing arch beckoned us.
"Give me your tired, your poor,
Your hangry masses yearning for AT&T."
2 Happy Meals and 2 payphone calls later, we had a cab back to our flat. And do you know how much it costs to take a 5 mile cab round-trip? That would be $75. We are literally paying for our mistakes. LIT.ER.ALLY.
It's been 2 days since I started this blog post, and obviously we are perking up and slowly finding our way out of our stupor. The search for a rental is crazy. Renting is more like buying here - which doesn't make sense as I type it out, but that's kind of how it feels. And there is a very intensive process to negotiate and sign a contract. There has been a huge influx of people in the last 2 years to London, and the school system is oversubscribed in most places, meaning we may not find places for the kids. Luckily we've thrown some money at our problems and decided to hire a Relocation firm that specializes in getting housing for Americans. And Cal's work has provided us with a school consultant. These people are not only helpful, but they are relentlessly polite and formal. I've taken to channeling Emma Thompson's voice in my head whenever I email someone.
All I can say at this point is, Praise the Lord for Voxer! Wait, wait, not that. This is my closing:
Clear eyes. Full hearts. Can't lose.