I have been letting the days go by too quickly these past three months. My beautiful wife is the same, but the beautiful house and beautiful car that I find myself in are different from the ones I described during our last once in a lifetime experience. It’s again time to think and tell about, well, how did I get here?
I started writing this more than a month ago, while I was on top the water at the bottom of the ocean, cruising towards the European continent, looking forward to a week when we will frequently ask the GPS “where does that highway go to?” We prepended a few days of vacation to a business trip; it was our most adventurous adventure since last year’s long weekend jaunt in Italy. Jenny has already written some about the trip, and there’s more to come. She thinks that I should give up on writing about everything that happened between our arrival and that trip, but I’m not ready to declare blogging bankruptcy just yet. I still want to tell the story starting from where I left it off, a day in late May when we left the US to return to the UK, and work through the the highlights of the whirlwind of everything that’s happened since we arrived.
In hindsight, the seemingly dramatic six hour flight delay on our way over turned out to be inconsequential, despite how dramatic it seemed at the time; everyone we meet has one or more crazy travel stories, many of which made ours look tame. Upon arrival, we were well taken care of by our sponsor family–friends from when we were here last year that volunteered to help us with all the details, administrative and otherwise, of settling in. They’re very kind and helpful, and have two children that are great friends for Elena and Roman. Among the many nice things they did for us: they borrowed a high chair and Pack-n-Play for Roman to use, brought us food on the day we arrived, so we wouldn’t have to shop right away, and on the first full day we were here they took us to a beautiful, fun public garden for rest, relaxation, and sunshine to help us overcome jet lag.
Our living arrangements are significantly different this time around. We arranged to stay for several weeks at Daisy House, a holiday rental townhouse close to the center of town. It was a great place for us to start out, with two nice bedrooms, a beautiful master bathroom, and even a workout area in the cellar. Still, we were anxious to find a permanent home, and had begun to examine the local real estate listings well in advance of our arrival. Although we had high hopes, none of the houses on the market at the time were quite right for us. One that we loved decided at the last minute that no pets were allowed; the owners of another one that we loved decided to renew their effort to sell it instead of letting it out. In the process, the local real estate agents got to know us and tipped us off as soon as a new house came on the market–a huge, beautiful Victorian townhouse in a great location, close to the bus stop and just down the road from a good school for Elena. We arranged a viewing, then put in our application and deposit the same day, and everything was finalized shortly thereafter. We still had to wait a few weeks to move in, but we felt a great weight lifted once we knew we had a place to live.
Securing our means of transportation was the next big item on our list. We had shipped Jenny’s car just a few days before we flew, and we knew that it would take several weeks to arrive. We had sold my car and planned to buy a new one upon arrival, when the right deal came along. It wasn’t long before I saw a poster on a bulletin board advertising a silver sedan that was the right price. It seemed good during my test drive, so the owner and I shook hands and arranged on a day to make the transfer, just a day or two before he left to go back to the US. Knowing that we would both have cars soon, Jenny and I started to study for the driving test, which consists of 50 multiple choice questions about rules of the road, street signs, and roadside first aid. We both passed on our first try, and were good to go as soon as we got our cars.
And so, exactly seven weeks after we stepped off the plane, we took posession of the keys to our house and opened it up just before a moving crew showed up with all of our stuff. It only took a few hours for them to move everything in. By that evening, we had unpacked enough boxes that the house had already begun to feel like our home.