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Tuesday, October 9, 2012

We Really Do Live Here

We spent lots of our weekend at the Transport for London Museum depot's open house. Just the getting there - double decker bus top seats - was an adventure for our transportation lovers. The Mister and I were mostly smitten with the gobs of industrial salvage on display and in catalogued storage, just out of reach. The actual vintage TFL fire buckets, tube signs, bus blinds, zebra lights. Oh, the houses we could decorate. Between us we'd kitted out more than a few kitchens, playrooms and study rooms.

It was super. The miniature steam train ride, antique train cars, old buses, the lot of it was fascinating. No wonder we were there all day.

And special note (not your actual thank you letters which are en route!) if you are our favorite uber-talented and generous knitting librarian, you should know that they ALL adore your beautiful hats. Both the boys wore theirs on our excursion and shared with their sisters who'd not thought to pack their darling pink and purple ones. Can you see Baby Sister holding Big Brother's?  The hats have become their signature wear when not in school uniforms.

We're a bit in between these days. It may be why the Mister and I were feeling desperate to obtain some of the London memorabilia on display. It already feels fleeting, our time here and we want to grasp something. Somethings. Some proof that we are and were part of London. The kids' accents won't hold and they'll forget some of the everydayness of it. Word is getting out amongst our friends here that our clock is ticking and I'm already in denial. It's why I feel so keenly the poignant emails between Biggest Brother and his friend unpacking boxes in Poland. That will be us in a way soon. Before we can blink I fear. What will they all remember? What will they treasure? Can we hold it all a little longer? Forever?

Before we moved to Richmond we put out word we had no friends in town and there we made lifelong, dear friends. Friends who have followed us around the world and godfathered our children. Loved us from afar, opened their homes, visited and kept us close. In going to Chicago, we prayed for nice neighbors and we got them in spades. Then the same moving here. We are truly blessed but also terribly heartbroken whenever and wherever we go. It is the downside of being good at moving.

Maybe I put off an overwhelmed vibe a few weeks ago when I started tallying the kids' after school activities and the mid-day school pick up for Baby Sister. Or maybe it was my telling friends I planned to pitch a tent in front of school and asking them to bring me coffees when the weather turned. But as if by magic, or providence, girlfriends came out of the woodwork to offer to ferry and watch my smalls right and left. I will miss that. I will miss them all terribly. The world is so big and yet so small. Despite my pledges and threats that my people and I are so good at remaining in touch, I know how expensive it will be for all of us to cross the Atlantic to be together. I am having faith that life will bring and keep us together.

It is just that sort of happy circumstance that will bring 4 West Springfield Spartans together for dinner next week in London. Three of whom live here. Who saw that coming in 1989?

For now, though, I very much happily and proudly live in London. I helped lost tourists outside our flat this morning. Through Hyde Park and to Harrods. Godspeed and directions I passed along in pantomime/Italian/English. If only they'd been nearer Our Sweet School where dozens of Italian friends could have helped them on their way even better. Those friends would have also certainly offered to watch various children. It is that lovely being here. Not entirely sure I want to leave!

Every time I think and say that, though, our plans are bolstered by Year 6 families who are enduring an application and acceptance process for secondary schools which I don't envy and frankly, hold in abject fear. Achieving a secondary placement for a (particularly boy) child in central London is perhaps akin to getting them into a very, very prestigious university in the States. And that doesn't even begin to consider the finances. Extreme pressure, lots of testing, years and late nights of tutoring, interviewing, crushing disappointments, absurd commutes. Untold costs all. Completely foreign to us to be sure. And one I suppose you can sense we've developed some opinions about.

A few people have asked us if we won't be going back to the same sort of process in the States for finding schools for the kids. Well. Not really. At all. We'll find lovely schools (and now my public school-educated heart is so bound in the parochial schools, I must say. Discuss.) and then find a house we like nearby. Search over. Mission accomplished.

So this year, we live here and very contentedly so. Plans are being made for playdates, birthday parties, a bigger Thanksgiving dinner, another Thanksgiving coffee, out of town guests. It is already taking on a poignant urgency. Poignant, sentimental feelings heightened by the Christmas lights being strung on Oxford Street. If there isn't Thanksgiving to celebrate and dark, cold days beckon, you, too would welcome such festivities!  Bring on the Winter Pimms, I say!

It isn't just the moving around that is hard on the sentimental, it is the great appreciation of being somewhere, too.

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