Sunday, September 2, 2018

Settling in

Purchased in Rome in June; first use this weekend 

How glad am I that it's this weekend and not last weekend? So glad, indescribably glad. But I'll try to describe anyway.

We've been in our new house since Wednesday. It's now definitely more house than construction zone, but the boxes everywhere, as well as construction tools scattered around, indicate that it's still in a state of transition. It's also situated three minutes' walk from a lake and three minutes' drive from a Target, which is a sweet spot I didn't even know I was looking for until I found it.

The three minutes to Target is proving especially handy at the moment, when we're making daily trips as we unpack and get organized and realize that we don't have enough hangers, or any sponges, or haven't found the pillows yet, get the picture. On moving day I was there twice and DP went three times - an utterly unprecedented event in his experience. DP normally avoids commerce in all its forms, other than buying books at every opportunity.

His close encounter with the Target phenomenon produced a spontaneous observation Wednesday night of the who-are-you-and-what-have-you-done-with-my-real-husband variety: "Target really is great. I mean you can get absolutely anything there!"

(I suppressed all of the many, many inappropriate responses this suggested, and settled for a meaningfully neutral, "Yes, dear, I know.")

Meanwhile, Miss B started school on Tuesday. She's re-starting eighth grade because the Australian and US school years don't align, and the other option was having her miss half of eighth grade and jump into ninth grade. Everyone pertinent to the decision-making process agreed this was a terrible idea, and that the 10,000-mile move, cultural re-integration, and shift from a school with 850 girls to one with 4,000 girls and boys was quite enough challenges to be getting on with.

I think it's safe to say we were all feeling pretty nervous about this aspect of the transition, with anxiety levels ratcheting up slowly but surely over the month of August. I had chosen this school after a lot of research (and an in-person visit during a hectic week of school tours and house hunting back in April), and bought a house in the district on faith that I had made the right call. The closer we got to the First Day, the more I quietly fretted: What if I was wrong?

We were still in temporary accommodation on Tuesday, and we left the apartment shortly after 6:30 to make sure we had more than enough time to make the drive in early morning rush-hour traffic and be at school for 8:00. Miss B, normally a chatterbox, was almost entirely silent. When I reached the drop-off point at the main entrance, she looked at me and said, "Don't worry, Mum, I'll be okay. I can do it." Then she got out, squared her shoulders under her Tardis backpack, and marched into the building.

I made it to the Starbucks parking lot before I cried.

Pickup was in the same spot at 3:00. Miss B bounced into the car, and immediately said the following:

"I had a great first day! You made a good choice. You don't need to worry about me and school anymore."

And then proceeded to talk excitedly about her day, classes, teachers, new classmates, the entire way home, including a trip to the supermarket.

To say I was relieved and happy to hear this is a radical understatement. To have it confirmed by the rest of the week made every remaining hurdle shrink to inconsequential size. And now it's Sunday of the Labor Day long weekend - a milestone I've been working towards for months, when we'd be in the house, getting settled. It's nice to have it really be happening at last, and to be on this side of our 77-day transit.

I wish that everyone else could be having as peaceful a weekend as we are. I hope you are.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Next phase

View of the Potomac and Georgetown from the Key Bridge on a hot August afternoon
We are poised at the top of the roller coaster - that brief, interminable pause before the plunge. We've spent two and a half months in transit, and now we're on the threshold between this phase of the transition and the next one.

School starts tomorrow and Miss B, brave and resolute, will walk into a population of some 4,000 students, of whom she knows not one. On Wednesday, our shipment arrives from Canberra, and we begin the process of unpacking the boxes and settling ourselves into our new house and community.

As I write this, late on Monday night, I have a baseline hum of anxiety that flares up with every thought about any aspect of any of our futures. It's all unknown, and right now that's a little bit terrifying. We're stepping out of limbo and back into reality. I've been re-reading this BrainPickings post to remind myself that what I'm feeling is not only normal but universal, and trying to focus on the fundamental things to keep my perspective: we're together, we're healthy, and we've got a roof over our heads. From that foundation, we'll find a way.

Wish us luck: here we go.

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Status update

New kitchen installation, Day 1.

Short version: our transition is ongoing.

Slightly longer version: we've been camped out in northern Virginia in a friend's basement for 5 weeks; tomorrow we shift to a short-stay apartment closer to our new house/construction site. We have now officially entered the intensive phase of renovation, and our household goods are expected to arrive in port from Australia shortly. Summer vacation 2.0 is entering its final phase for Miss B, with just over 2 weeks until school starts. DP is enjoying settling into his new job, and my working life has entered an interesting phase, of which more later - right now I'm mainly focused on juggling between work and contractor responsibilities, interspersed with occasional interactions with spouse and child.

My mantra of the moment: "It'll all get done somehow." And I'm not complaining - I knew what August would be like when I signed up for this.

One of the main reasons that makes it all worth it: being able to join my family's Cape vacation for the first time in ten years:


Desserts: my mum's chocolate cake, with vanilla buttercream frosting (top);
Food52 Shortcut Pie with a gluten-free cookie crust filled with roasted peaches and raspberries (bottom)

Highlights included s'mores on the back patio and a mass birthday party for all the summer birthdays in my family (about half of the 15 people in attendance - I contributed the desserts). Other highlights, not pictured: the cousins' sleeping loft; Mexican train dominoes; loafing in rocking chairs on the porch; unscheduled time with a lot of people I've been missing for a long time.
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