I realised last I left the house purchasing stuff at waiting on paperwork. Well the paperwork went through and we exchanged contracts, so we are now in the middle time between having committed to buying the house but not owning it until a few more months because we agreed on a delayed completion.
Time to worry, plan, fret, dream and such like. It is an odd time, one where there is impending work but the exact details of which we don’t actually know. So many decisions to come. It is exciting of course, but scary too, like standing on the edge of the precipice and looking down and not being able to see the bottom…
So Pinterest has become a good friend for ideas. I have begun perusing websites I hadn’t seen before, begun looking at magazines in dentists waiting rooms which are *all* about kitchens. Who am I turning into?! We’re getting there, taking tiny steps in the right direction, zig zagging a bit here and there and inching closer still to being home owners. Exciting times.
We’re getting there. Slowly but surely things are getting sorted and it feels like finally this is home, this is where we live. Although of course the sorting, jeepers, there is so much to go through to sort, to do. The whole process makes me think that we need less. Always less.
There has been a lot on the internet recently about less, from ths excellent New York Times article Living with Less to Sui writing about clearning out her wardrobe and an old post by Peonies about living with only 33 items in your wardrobe (including accessories!) Each time I have read something along these lines I have thought about the concept and liked it, yet never actually done anything about it. Until this move.
Somehow this move came at the right time in my life. We sorted, we started sorting about a month before the actual move and have kept on going until now. So far we have taken 11 bags of clothes to the clothes recycling bin, 3 boxes of stuff to a charity shop, sold a lot of furniture in DC and not replaced it all here. Thrown away an awful lot of stuff. Sorted, resorted and shredded a lot of paperwork and just generally begun to get stuff in order. It is quite astonishing how much two people can acquire and what you really actually need.
To be honest it has been a delight having our kitchen stuff back and I am so enjoying my cookbooks, pans and other kitchen gadgets. Cooking is one of life’s pleasures. But it has also been so good to have finally got to a point where my wardrobe doesn’t overwhelm and sadden me. I can see what I have (or don’t have). I am wearing the stuff I do have, each piece of it, no matter how ‘special’ that piece may be and I am looking forward to buying less but better when a piece of it finally dies.
Moving away from this relentless consumerism has felt refreshing, we have everything we need and I no longer need to buy. Instead we can save, we can spend on holidays, meals, experiences.
I am hoping that this whole long experience of moving and sorting and sorting and sorting will be turning point. That somehow I will manage to keep on this track, to avoid the relentless acquistion culture shoved in our faces all the time. To keep our house freer of clutter. To get that kick out of getting rid as I have found myself getting. We’ll see but for now I am enjoying the small amounts of serenity this is bringing.
We made it. After returning from San Francisco we went head first into sorting things out, throwing stuff away, giving stuff away, selling stuff. Anything to try and process everything we had in our flat in Washington. It was both incredibly cathartic doing all that sorting and getting rid and at times hard. There were moments when I had to stop because I couldn’t bear just throwing away things which were still good but we couldn’t fit in our luggage or take with us.
So six suitcases later we arrive at Heathrow, tired, excited and feeling slight trepidation about what happens next. J chose a lovely flat, lots of natural light and space, plus thankfully warm, especially these last few days. The first few days were tough, not so much a cultural adjustment, it all felt very familiar, more a life adjustment. The odd feeling that this was it, we weren’t just visiting like we had been for the last couple of years.
We’re getting there, day by day. Seeing friends, trying to write the long list of people we want to catch up with and balancing it with needing to live a leaner life and within a tighter budget. London thankfully is still the wonderful city I remembered it to be and we are enjoying discovering a new part of it (we’re NW now not SW as we were before).
Now to wait the few weeks (months?!) until our stuff arrives across the ocean and then we’ll all be set!
We went West for Christmas. It was good, for us both. Although the weather was not all that California weather is meant to be (read pissing rain for many of the days we were there) the enforced inside time and relaxation was a blessing.
Due to the terrible weather we spent the first day in the California Academy of Sciences. They had an amazing coral reef aquarium with the most beautiful array of fish. I could have watched it for hours.
Of course there is the bridge, which is as spectacular in real life as it is in your imagination. And it really was that grey for many of the days… Although there’s something about dull, low grey and mizzle which makes me feel so cosy.
Our friends took us in search of sunshine and find it we did. We even found some Elk. Who knew there were Elks in Northern California, certainly not I. Speaking of Elk we also saw Elephant Seals and hummingbirds (so very amazing).
And then the last day spent in a blaze of sunshine, seeing the city on foot and enjoying the colours and contrasts that this city provide, old vs new, green space vs urban sprawl, poor vs rich.
I’m sure we’ll be back.
2012 was a year of travel, a lot of it. It was another busy year, I remember feeling incredibly positive at the beginning of the year, I think because 2011 had been such a tough year in many ways. By mid-autumn admittedly that positivity had dropped, it felt like we were mired in just getting stuff done and dealing with crap.
In short I did the following travel:
2 trips to South Africa
1 to Australia
1 trip to France and the UK
4 trips to the UK
1 trip to Canada
1 to San Francisco
A few nights in New York
All of the above coupled with an incredibly busy work year and no proper holiday meant that by the end of the year I was exhausted, physically and mentally. If nothing else 2012 has taught me how much I really need to look after myself and what a work-life balance is not.
2013 starts with a huge change, we move back to London and have to work out living in somewhere we know so well but which will be different from before. I am hopeful again for next year. I am planning holidays in my head already, we have a friend to visit in Istanbul, we have Italy to explore and we have time to spend together on a beach doing sweet f.a.
I am also looking forward to reconnecting with old friends, keeping new ones and taking the next steps in J and I’s life together. We want to buy a house at some point, we’d like somewhere of our own, who knows maybe that’s what 2013 will hold for us.
We spent Christmas together this year, just the two of us in San Francisco. For the first eight years together we went our separate ways for Christmas, it was the easiest thing to do, I saw my family, he his. Sometimes we might visit the other one after Christmas and before New Year but in the main we kept things as they had always been.
The last two years have been different. Last year we were in DC, sharing Indian takeaway with friends. This year we were on holiday, our first holiday which was longer than 4 days since probably last Christmas. It was a quiet affair, the weather in San Francisco was horrid, truly truly horrid and so we didn’t have much of a desire to get out and about. Instead we made one foray to the restaurant for lunch and then spent the rest of the day relaxing, I even squeezed in a two hour nap.
Lunch was dim sum, a big departure from the more traditional Christmas fare, and certainly no pudding, Brussels sprouts or even Port. In some ways it was good to be doing something so different, it made it less odd to be so far away and just the two of us.
As much as it was lovely to be spending the time together and having a very relaxed time, having done things differently for two years I now feel ready to return to more traditional ways and to sharing it with family as well as friends. At some point J and I will get to build our family traditions for Christmas, thankfully this shouldn’t be too contentious as both families are relatively aligned. In the meantime however, I will look forward to next year knowing that it will again be different from the last two but familiar too.
J and I have been a couple for 10 years now. 10 years of time spent growing up together, learning about each other, working together, celebrating, commiserating and becoming the people we are now. It felt momentous that moment when we ticked over into double digits.
It’s been another whirlwind year, so much going on since last year and more big changes to come. Thankfully though before the changes we get to relax a little, we are heading off to San Francisco for Christmas and some down time. Time to re-connect, to forget all the stress and crap we have to deal with and to get on with enjoying being together and exploring somewhere new.
I do wonder what the next 10 years will hold and I am looking forward to finding out…
A whirlwind weekend in London.
Houses looked at.
Nothing found… Yet.
The feeling that it is absolutely the right thing to be doing.
London, I am ready to be yours again.
On our last Thanksgiving in the US (until the next one we spend over here…) I am thankful for:
- My husband, for sharing his life with me and being an absolute rock of support and love
- My family, for their understanding, patience and support
- My friends, both those who I have grown to love dearly in Washington, DC and those I am returning to rekindle my friendships with in London
- All of you who read this blog and who chatter with me on Twitter and Instagram!
There are many more things I am thankful for, however for now I will keep it brief. Being reminded to think about all you have and all that it gives you is very special. I shall certainly try and bring this celebration back to the UK and to make sure I spend that one day thinking extra hard about all I have and how lucky I am to be where I am and surrounded by so many special people.
Sending good wishes your way, eat, drink, be merry and enjoy an afternoon nap if you can!
With the move is coming a lot of change. We’ve done this before, admittedly only once, but this time although the same some things are slightly different. As much as change is exciting it is also unsettling. I’m mixed, one day excited the next mildly panicked. Work, housing, friendships, finances all of these things are whirling around and around. I know it will work out in the end somehow and things are falling into place slowly. Things will work out. I’m learning again that I need to bite piece by piece and work on things a little bit at a time. I’m also learning again how important it is to talk about everything. Poor J is having his ear chewed far too much. I process by talking, it helps me work out what I do or don’t want, even if it means I go round and round in circles far too often. Lots to write about once I organise my thoughts.