We arrived safely with the usual dazed feeling from lack of sleep, but so excited to step back into our lives here. We were only just taking our belongings out of the car when my son announced that his backpack wasn’t there. It was only then that I really started to clock what kids actually put into their backpacks when traveling; it’s not Winnie the Pooh and coloring books anymore, but rather all of their electronic worldly possessions worth silly money and probably data that is not downloaded or stored anywhere else. When I travel with them, I constantly check my own computer bag is being looked after, and my personal bag with passports and wallet, but never do I properly focus on their packs. Stupidly obvious lesson you only need to learn once.
The next day and a half is spent completely jet-lagged and on the phone with the Heathrow police, the insurance company and the taxi service as whoever stole the pack is now using all of my accounts and charging books and music with a single touch of the button. Not sure how I let the Ipod and Kindle even have these capabilities…another blinding lesson. We still haven’t figured out when the pack was taken but now I am having to let it go before the anger swalllows me up. Apparently CCTV proves that the bag was on the trolley as we all remembered so at least I’m didn’t lose my brain along with the belongings.
Two days later and jet lag has nearly killed me this time. Not a great start. I feel very strange still and desperately awaiting the calm that normally envelopes me in this house. Husband not being here creates a further pause, but I try to remember our golden rule: NEVER judge ANYTHING within 48 hours of arrival. The boys jumped in, however, sailing into their lives here like captains on familiar seas. That is a joy and a half to see for sure. I haven’t planned much these first few weeks as summer allows for lazier days. The weather is crap but the boys don’t seem to notice.
I had my first ‘are you moving to LA permanently, then?’ question and every time I’m asked something like this I am flabbergasted as to why people must think in these terms? To me, a permanent decision doesn’t exist, isn’t real or worthy of contemplating, and it forever makes me feel only one emotion; loss. To be permanently somewhere means the loss of the other to me. We permanently live in two countries…for now.
As the weather changes all of our ideas for this week, I slow the days right down and the boys are happy just being home playing ping pong. I do offer a trip into town as now, being in London, I feel the need to see Trafalgar Square, the Changing of the Guard, see a play in the Westend, something quintessentially British. But simply being able to use public transport and let the three older boys take the bus into Richmond is a big enough adventure for them. They have no desire to watch Big Ben gong or go down Portobello Rd, and I realize that I have to get my fix without them for the time being – must stop using Pimms as my tourist attraction! That sense of independence is so hard to find in LA where everyone carts their kids everywhere – I truly feel like a cart horse – so I’m lucky to have them feel so fulfilled with a bit of table tennis.
We spent last night at Sophie’s and with her huge tribe and mine, a game of ‘Cannonball’- something like Tag-meets-It with a jail involved – was played until darkness descended on them, mud enveloped them and they came in red faced and hungry. The adults drank Sophie’s latest summer cocktail concoction and I’d say a seriously good time was had by all.