Last week we crossed the one-month mark from our arrival in London, and I had two thoughts: 1) It’s been a month already? and 2) It’s only been a month?
On the one hand, my sadness at leaving Will (and everyone else, too) is still quite fresh, and it’s hard to believe that much time can have passed already. It still feels new and raw to be without him, and to have said goodbye to our old lives and ‘adieu’ to our friends and family. On the other hand, we have been so busy, and done so much since we’ve been here. Not the fun, touristy things, but the boring necessities– like, well, I won’t bore you with it… It seems like we’ve been slogging through this stuff for so long, it’s hard to believe we’ve only been here a month. Plus, I’ve been to at least 42 welcome coffees and committee meetings– how can that have all happened in a month?
But it did. Quinn celebrated his 6th birthday on Friday. He was pretty pleased to take cool cupcakes in to school, and he “ordered” mac and cheese at home for his birthday dinner. So we had our first birthday celebration in the new home, around the new table. We had to improvise on a couple of things (like birthday candles, or uh, a cake!). Oh well. He didn’t seem to mind using tea lites, and Chloe and Claire came through on a birthday cake for home with a last minute dash around the neighborhood. (I guess I just mentally checked the box on that when I delivered those fabulous cupcakes…). I was somewhat more prepared with presents, as we’d been giving that some serious thought. We decided to splurge on a British Wii for him– and for those of you who know our little Quinny well and have heard about how we blew up our American Wii in the first week or two here, you know that that was about the greatest gift ever. He was truly surprised and pretty ecstatic. He told Clay later in evening, “Dad I really appreciate the Wii. Thanks.” I’m not sure if there was a handshake in there somewhere, but there might have been.
Chloe is working hard in every respect. She always knew she would be carrying a heavy academic load her senior year– but the reality of 4 AP classes (European History, Calculus, Biology, and French) is pretty intense. Her English elective for the semester is The Victorian Novel~ they’re reading Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Jane Eyre, A Christmas Carol, and… I’ve forgotten what else. But how fun is that? To read A Christmas Carol in London at Christmastime? (And speaking of Dickens… did anyone see that an inquest recently ruled an elderly Irish man’s death last December was a case of spontaneous combustion??? Is this Bleak House? I remember being completely freaked out by that possibility as a middle school kid reading that book at home alone one night. I guess truth is stranger than fiction– or at least as strange…)
Anyway, back to Chloe. She does have some consolation for her demanding load in that ASL has an open campus and they are on an 8-block, sliding schedule. So if she does not have class during a given block, she is free to leave school. Often she stays and works in the library, but sometimes she gets a whole afternoon free– like last Friday, when she met me for lunch and to shop for a birthday present for her brother. I am treasuring those times, believe me! I know that all too soon she will be starting out on her own path, like her big brother.
Will. It’s been very challenging to figure out how to keep in touch with him, given that with the time difference he is either sleeping or in class for most of our waking hours. When I get up at 6ish, I can often text him as he is still up studying in Boulder. And he has had to do a lot of studying! Calc and Chem are no joke, so he is working really hard– certainly not having a carefree freshman year. But he seems to be handling it, and he’s been in good spirits since he got through his first exams a couple of weeks ago. More are coming in early October, so I’m hoping he is stocking up on sleep right now. His bike injuries are mostly healed, though he is still not supposed to do any heavy lifting or activity that puts stress on his chest and shoulder (like push-ups, Will!). I’m looking forward to getting him over here in December– can’t wait to have him with us for a whole month!!!
But back to the present. Don’t let me forget to mention cross country, which Chloe remains committed to. Though she definitely misses her Marblehead team a ton, she has at least found nice places to run in London– north London has some great hills and we are about half a mile south of a gigantic park called Hampstead Heath, and half a mile north of a more manicured park called Primrose Hill, which is adjacent to Regent’s Park, so she’s got lots of room~ and she gets to run by the chimps in the London Zoo! In the two meets so far she has found the competition in the conference is not at the same level she faced back in New England. She finds herself winning by rather a large margin, and getting a lot of attention for times that are not at her peak level from last year. For those of you who know Chloe well, you know that that will drive her crazy– she just wants to achieve her goal she has set for herself, with minimal fuss.
The last two cross country meets have also been family outings into the countryside. Both were in Surrey– southwest of the city– at American schools that might have been options had we wanted to live in the country. This last one, as you can see from the snaps, was gorgeous– though the course was not on the school campus, but in a big park preserve, which was full of people out enjoying the weekend with their dogs : ( For us it was a tube ride to Waterloo Station, followed by an overland train ride, followed by a minicab to the course. We finished off this meet with outdoor lunch at a pub before heading back on the train. This was something of an improvement over last weekend, when we found ourselves eating Cornish pasties (tasty, but quite heavy) on crowded benches in a busy train station! Actually, we’ve been a bit surprised to find ourselves challenged by the whole traveling by train thing. We used them so much in France, we just assumed it would be easy for us to figure out– I mean, these are even in English, right? But it’s a bit old-world railway-ish, with printed timetables and a hundred different lines referred to by a name such as “Woking via Clapham Junction,” and though the train may run every 20 minutes, it calls at different stations for each departure. Put it all together, and suddenly, it’s complicated. I suppose the comfort should be that, even if you get on the wrong train, another one will bring you back to where you started so you can try again!
On that note, I will leave you for now. I’m sure I’ve gone on too long already. I’ll just say that we are enjoying ourselves, though we miss all of our family and friends back in the US. We’re bumbling our way along, finding things that are lovely, as well as things that are a nuisance. Either way, we try to keep perspective that it’s all part of the adventure.
Miss you all, and welcome you to join in our adventure anytime!