Friday, October 03, 2008

Epilogue

The driver's seat in my new Mommy Mobile has begun to mold satisfactorily to the shape of my ass.

What, not the update you were looking for from me after 9 weeks of silence? Because really, I think that one sentence tells you everything you need to know about my new life in the States. I am once again a suburban mom, hopping in and out of my SUV more times a day than I can count as I race from soccer practice to Target, from school drop off to coffee with a friend. Perhaps the fact that I'm still giving my daily routine this level of contemplation gives me away as not entirely comfortable here just yet. But I'm starting to get a little more settled, finding my groove simply by virtue of the fact of my presence here. The fit is coming -- in my life as well as in my car.

"How was London?" people ask me when they see me for the first time and I smile wistfully. "It was wonderful," I reply wholeheartedly. And then I sort of stop. Not just because I suspect that most people don't really want or need to hear anything more than that, but also because I'm not even sure quite what so say. It was wonderful, this I know. But I've lost the words (and perhaps even some of the memories already) to articulate how or why. When I think of London right now, the mental image is hazy, abstract, far away. It almost feels as if I had a wonderfully rich and detailed 2 year dream about living there. And now I've woken up, with that entire dream world just tantalizingly out of reach.

I'm apparently not the only one who feels that distance. Evan's English accent is very nearly gone. After a rough few weeks of transition, he tells me that school here is more fun than it was in England and he loves his new teachers the best of all. Yesterday, while building a block tower with him, I mentioned that our creation looked a lot like a castle that we'd seen in Spain. He paused. Squinted. Then shook his head. That memory has apparently evaporated already. My anglophile has fallen prey to the siren song of neighborhood bike riding and a dedicated play room in the basement. I have an American son again.

I have an American daughter, too. Julia speaks longingly about London with a frquency that surprises me a bit, reminiscing about her friends and the things they enjoyed doing together. But she seems willing enough to leave those happy memories in the past and is forging forward in her new life with gusto. I may be struggling with the educational gap that she's encountering here, but she's not struggling at all, in any way shape or form. Happy and confident and social and mature, she's as much at home in here as if we had never left.

For the 23 months that we lived in London, I felt like we were in the midst of a life altering experience. Yet here we are back in my New Jersey hometown, and our lives don't look all that different than they did before we left. That's both scary and soothing -- scary to have the most meaningful experience of our lives slip away so quickly and yet soothing to find that our transition back to American life has been easier than I'd envisioned. Some days I am filled with longing for all that I have left behind. But most days, it's frankly easier to leave it in the past. London bubbles up, to be sure. But as often as not these days, it's below the surface for all of us.

Will there be a lasting legacy of our London years, then, or will they just evaporate as our old life swallows us up again? I'm not really sure. I want to say that we're all enriched by the things that we saw and did and experienced, that the lessons of our time abroad will continue to impact the way we think and conduct ourselves for years to come. But it's kind of hard to believe that when I see how easily we've let ourselves get sucked back into our old world. I'm hoping that as time goes on and the day to day of our life here requires less immediate energy, we'll notice more and more of the subtle ways that London has influenced and changed us all. How and when that may happen remains to be seen.

Once upon a time, my family set out on an adventure. And then we came home. We were forever changed by our adventures and yet we were not changed at all. If we found ourselves while in London, it was only as the new improved people who we always were to begin with. And so life goes on seamlessly here on the other side of the pond. We giggle together and we argue at mealtimes and we run late to school and we snuggle close to read when the day is through, just as we did in England. We love London and we love our New Jersey hometown but more than anything, we love each other. Paul and I spent the past two years telling my children that wherever we are together as a family, that's home. At times I doubted this pat reassurance even as I spouted it. But now I know with absolute certainty that we were right all along. Perhaps that lesson is enough to have made the journey worthwhile in and of itself.

The End.


This will be my last blog post on Somewhere Over The Pond. My heartfelt thanks to all of you who have shared in my family's adventures here over the past 2 years -- your comments and emails and support got me through many lonely days and made the happy days far more fun. I've been doing some writing as a contributing editor at Travel Savvy Mom and would welcome you to follow me there, both for my own posts and for those of the hysterical team of Mom travelers I'm lucky enough to work with there. I'm also hoping to pursue additional writing opportunities in the coming months, and will update with links here if and when I've got more to share (leads welcome!). In addition, my
sotprebecca@gmail.com email address continues to work and I'm always happy to receive correspondence there. Please keep in touch!

18 Comments:

Blogger Suburban Hippie said...

Aww, now here I am leaking tears again. Six weeks ago, this is what I dearly hoped and wished for you and your family; but now it makes me a little sad for us all to leave London in our pasts. Thanks again for sharing everything, both here in your blog and in all the little corners of my life. (Julia wore her personalized Tinkerbell nightgown to pick up the boys from school today, and I had fun telling her about her big-girl "friend" named Julia. I will never look at my daughter in those nightgowns without thinking of your Julia.)

I'm so glad Julia and Evan are settled and happy, and so pleased to hear Evan feels American so quickly!

12:29 AM  
Blogger Patois said...

I am sorry to see you go. I love your tales and your thinking and your descriptions of your life. Best of luck to you. I am so glad the kids have settled back in. And that this adventure will always be a part of their lives.

2:31 PM  
Blogger Iota said...

Well, there's nothing like measuring your place in life by the shape of your ass.

This is a lovely epilogue. It's the closing of a chapter, for sure, but I do wonder if having done this once, and done it so successfully, you may find another opportunity for time abroad in years to come.

Meanwhile, I will certainly want to read your writing, so do keep posting the links.

2:53 PM  
Blogger Christy said...

I have followed your stories and travels over the past couple of years. It has been inspiring to say the least. It makes me dream that one day out little family could maybe do the same.

While sad to see you go, completely understood. Wishing you all the best.

8:42 PM  
Blogger KayK said...

I've met an fallen in love with an Englishman ... I just returned from 2.5 weeks visiting with him, meeting his family, and traveling for a week together. Unfortunately he wants to move here, I'd love the experience of moving there with my daughter - but maybe one day I can convince him to return with me :)

Thank you for your stories, I lived vicariously through you!

11:34 PM  
Blogger Chris said...

Thank you so much for sharing your experiences with us. Yours was one of the blogs I found while we were preparing to spend the summer in London, and it was very helpful in giving us an idea what to expect. We loved our stay there and have had similar feelings to those you describe on our return. Best of luck in your future adventures!

4:47 AM  
Anonymous London Southern Belle said...

awww so sad you are not longer writing here. best wishes to you!!!

7:08 PM  
Blogger pinksundrops said...

To transition so smoothly, I am in awe. Perhaps it IS because you focused on wherever you will be together as a family, that is home. Talk about a family motto to live by...

Good luck in your adventures! I will miss reading your daily ones.

2:26 PM  
Anonymous Bec said...

What a great way to end it! Thank you so much for your blog!
I wish you all the best - keep on writing!

2:37 AM  
Blogger Cat said...

Thanks so much for sharing your experience. We moved to London in June (from St. Louis) and it was incredibly helpful and enjoyable. This last post was beautifully written :)

3:09 PM  
Blogger NYC said...

Thank you for this post. I sadly just found your blog on my last weekend in London. My wife and I are just finishing up our two year life here in Swiss Cottage, and I am feeling very depressed about going home to New York City. Here is the kicker - i have no idea why I feel depressed about it. Outside of my new friends and pace of life, there is some under-current to life here that I can't put my finger on, but it's something that my heart tells me I will miss. I keep thinking about how I should have extended our work commitments here, but it's too late now. NYC has always been our roots, where we were born, but for some reason London seems like home. I hope this feeling passes the moment I see my old friends and family in new york.

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