The purchase is still ongoing… We have filled in a lot of forms. We have spoken to solicitors, estate agents, surveyors, an architect and countless friends and family about the purchase. The latest hold up is our mortgage provider not telling us they needed additional documentation and then wondering why we hadn’t provided it when I called to ask how everything was going?! Grrrr.
We agreed with our vendor to do a delayed completion. I had no idea this was even an option before we heard about it. Basically we’ll exchange contracts sometime soon and then next year we’ll actually complete on a set date. This gives us time to plan which is most important as there is a lot of planning to do.
In the meantime we’re going to move from our current place to another one, closer to our new house and *shock horror* outside of London! We’re going to be proper commuters, in the main because to afford anywhere vaguely like what we were after we have had to make the decision to make the leap. I’m sad and excited. This is the next step in our life, the next place after the next one will be one we own and that is just immense, overwhelming. On the flip side we moved back to England to be in London and then are moving away from it. That bit I’m sad about. We’ll still be in the city, coming in for work and seeing friends up here, so all is not yet lost.
The whole affording to live in London is a conversation we’ve had many times over, both between ourselves and with friends. Some of the house prices I see astonish me, it is eye-watering to see how much it costs to get so little. Concerning too, I do wonder how long this can all last. But that is a longer discussion and probably one best over a bottle of wine with some heated debate.
We made it. After returning from San Francisco we went head first into sorting things out, throwing stuff away, giving stuff away, selling stuff. Anything to try and process everything we had in our flat in Washington. It was both incredibly cathartic doing all that sorting and getting rid and at times hard. There were moments when I had to stop because I couldn’t bear just throwing away things which were still good but we couldn’t fit in our luggage or take with us.
So six suitcases later we arrive at Heathrow, tired, excited and feeling slight trepidation about what happens next. J chose a lovely flat, lots of natural light and space, plus thankfully warm, especially these last few days. The first few days were tough, not so much a cultural adjustment, it all felt very familiar, more a life adjustment. The odd feeling that this was it, we weren’t just visiting like we had been for the last couple of years.
We’re getting there, day by day. Seeing friends, trying to write the long list of people we want to catch up with and balancing it with needing to live a leaner life and within a tighter budget. London thankfully is still the wonderful city I remembered it to be and we are enjoying discovering a new part of it (we’re NW now not SW as we were before).
Now to wait the few weeks (months?!) until our stuff arrives across the ocean and then we’ll all be set!
The time has come for us to return to London. We move back in January. Two months. In total we will have lived in the US for 27 months, during which we have experienced some of our toughest times and some absolutely wonderful times, we’ve met many amazing people who I hope will be lasting friends. It was absolutely the right decision to move here and experience this and now it feels like the right time to do the return journey.
There’s a lot to think about of course. Moving country is not easy, as we have learnt, even if you’ve lived there before. We’re going through another period of pretty big change and trying to work it all out again. We’re going back to something which is so familiar and yet viewed through a new perspective and I imagine possibly also so changed from what we left. I’m excited though, the new opportunities this brings, the friendships we can re-kindle, the city I love I get to live in again. London here we come…
Continuing on the theme of making conscious decisions (see last post) I decided that it wasn’t just about denying things but also the opportunity to explore and invest in new things.
I love cooking, making yummy food, sharing that food with friends and family, and yet I often find myself looking at recipes and deciding that they’re too complicated or include an odd ingredient I’ve never used before and stopping there. So this weekend I decided to do something about it and we bought a blowtorch. Not a mini chefs one, nope, a big ass proper DIY tools blowtorch. And I love it.
I made my first ever creme brulees on Saturday, admittedly not a resounding success but the caramelising of the sugar on the top with the blowtorch, that was awesome. Our guests quite enjoyed it too.
So there we are, the first of my experiments. No photos to prove what I did but the first step in trying new things, learning more and having a little more fun with fire in the kitchen. So now to try new things and to try and document that trial before the evidence is gobbled up.
This year is the first year J and I will spend Christmas together. It is also the first year for me to not spend Christmas in the UK with my family. So it’s a year of firsts, a year where we can forge new traditions which are ours and we can be just the two of us and think about the future and where we want to go.
It is also a year where since we are not spending it with others we are avoiding a lot of present buying. For example this year we’re not buying each other Christmas presents. I have bought gifts for the nieces and nephew but my sisters, parents, in-laws, etc no gifts.
It’s rather wonderful. Not only do we save money but so do others and we also save giving and getting stuff which is nice but not needed and thus fills up either ours or someone elses house.
Don’t get me wrong, I love buying gifts, well chosen, thought out ones, but I like having time to do this. Hence why I enjoy buying birthday presents, they are thankfully a little more spread out throughout the year. But presents for presents sake is something I’m a lot less on board with.
Partly perhaps it’s an age thing, I have most stuff I really need and I don’t have kids so I don’t have people to really get excited about the gift giving bit of Christmas. Partly it’s also that I have been trying a little this year to limit my spending so much, to avoid so much general consumerism and to be a little more environmentally friendly. Still no way near enough I’m sure but every little helps.
I’m sure this will change so this year I shall enjoy a Christmas focused on spending time with my loved one, contacting other loved ones round the world and stuffing myself silly.
It was my birthday a week and a half ago. Normally I am like a small child, telling everyone, organising a party and generally being excitable. This year it was a much quieter affair. Just J and I, no big celebration, which was rather lovely.
It gave me time to reflect, time to think about how I really do feel more grown-up, that the last year has changed me. Changed us. Moving to America has been wonderful in many ways, the experience of doing something tough together has bought us closer. We have met many kind and lovely new people and had some great opportunities which we wouldn’t have otherwise had.
We are also another year on, having to make big decisions about things in the future. We have spent many an hour trying to plan for uncertainty, which is of course nigh on impossible.
All of this has moved me towards feeling more ready to do some of the big things. Investing in our joint venture has never made more sense and each being more willing to make compromises to enable good things to come in the future.
I hope this next year will be good. If nothing else it will be together with J and if there’s one thing I’ve learnt is that that very fact is so important to me.
24 hours in NYC what would you do?
As much as going home made me realise what I missed even more it also made me think about changing the way I think about and approach being here. I loved my time back in England but I also realised that right now that’s not where life is. My life is here in Washington, DC and I can either try and make the most of being here or I can let it pass me by wishing for something else.
Things are good, mostly, but things are generally only mostly good, that’s just balance right? Plus there are opportunities, my job is good, it’s interesting and challenging. Learning about America is still intriguing me and I think growing me as a person. The opportunities we have here (like going to California for 2 nights) are ones we wouldn’t have in the UK.
I was sad to leave, so sad sat on the plane, but glad to be back, glad to really know what I have at home, how much I treasure it and more aware of being in the moment here and making the most of it so I don’t regret it when we come back.
Tomorrow we’re off to the Preakness horse race in Baltimore, I’m very excited. My first time to a horse race and it’s the second of the triple crown in the US. The race follows the famous Kentucky Derby and will hopefully be a day full of Pimms, betting and general high jinks.
Then on Wednesday we’re going home! I cannot express how excited I am about this, we’ve not been back for almost six months and I miss everyone in England so much so am super excited to be seeing them all. Plus some of our dear friends are getting married while we’re there so it’s even more exciting.
The weekend after we’re off for our first trip to California and another wedding. Lots to look forward to!
Walking home a couple of evening’s ago in the glorious spring sunshine I couldn’t help but think about how I had never quite imagined this a year ago and certainly not two years ago and then how my ten and five year plans are really quite different now.
I’ve always carried these plans in my head (don’t we all?) When I was younger I thought I knew how it would all work, when I would meet the man I wanted to marry, how many years together, when we’d get married, the career I would have and when to start having babies.
As I grew up the plans changed, reformed and got wilder or more realistic depending on the time of the month. Once I met J the plans started to become more our plans and not just mine, of course at first they were very separate and slowly they merged, creating a shared future. Those times are wonderful when we dream and we shape our future together and the plan becomes more real because it’s ours not mine.
Of late I feel like I’ve been doing a lot of future gazing, for some reason this move has made me think in years rather than days/weeks/or months. Perhaps it’s part of growing up, perhaps it’s just what I fall back on when I’m unsure about what will happen or missing home. Who knows, whatever it is I think it’s time to redraft our five year plan. After all a lot can change in a few months, let alone five years.