Moving countries is an experience like no other. Imagine all the stress and upheaval of moving house and then multiply it by 10 and you come close to our last few days. Every time I’ve considered writing this post, I’ve been overwhelmed and put off – how can I go through everything that’s happened and do it any justice? Then I realized I can’t, so I’ll just summarize the best I can.
We woke up early on Friday morning because we had to get the cats out of the house before the clearance people came to empty it. After a military operation worthy of the navy seals, they were both driven away crying and the move was on. Junk removers came, took the rubbish and helped our friend Bob load the good stuff into a rented van. They were done by 4.30 which gave us 15 minutes to have a shower, look round one more time and rush out the door. Traffic, stress, late arrival at airport…. Made it! Looooong flight. Arrive on the other side of the ocean without any sleep. Find rental car place – it’s shut! Call number on door and find out they have to drive us to other side of airport to pick up our car – all the while panicking because we need to get to the new house before the cats arrive. Finally get on the road. “International” cell phone doesn’t seem to understand the words “international” or “phone” so we struggle to find out what’s happening to the cats. Finally hear that they’re OK but close behind. Stop at pet store and buy “cat starter kit” of food, litter, tray, bowls etc. and rush to short-term renatl place. Hardly have time to look round before cats arrive. They’re dazed at first and then, when they do emerge from their carriers, they panic. One races round looking for an escape route – and even jumps up the chimney before falling back down covered in soot. The other wedges himself into such a small hiding space that we genuinely think he has somehow escaped and spend a miserable 2 hours wishing we’d never tried to move him, before joyfully finding him and breathing the biggest sigh of relief ever known to man.
We’re two days in now and while minor things have gone wrong, all the important stuff is good. The temporary rental is lovely, if a little quirky. We’re doing OK driving on the wrong side of the road. We got the keys to our new longer term rental yesterday and it’s beautiful. The cats are slowly settling in. We have a fridge full of food (and wine!). Our business is back up and running. And as I write this, I can see the sun is glinting on the river across the lane.
On the evening of our first day here, after all the madness, I went for a walk by myself down by the river. It was cold but sunny and the air smelled of English Spring. As I was thinking back on everything we’d gone through, a woman stopped me and asked what time the park closed. I didn’t know, but we fell into a conversation – an easy, friendly, Yorkshire conversation. And I had to cut it short because my eyes were welling up. Because that’s when it hit me – that meaningless chat with a stranger was the exact moment I knew that I had made it. That I am really home.