This British Life

iphone snap from the bridge near our house

iphone snap from the bridge near our house

We've reached our 6 months in London mark, so I thought I would announce it as though it's something you should know about. Go ahead and congratulate us in the comments. Something like this:

"Congratulations on living in one place for six months! You're so dedicated and accomplished! I love that you know how to pay your council tax and have obeyed all of the street rules about recycling your food waste! And don't forget that now you get to keep going to work and school in a different place!" (Lots of exclamation points means you really mean it.)

But seriously, I am using my snark to convey a point - that being, that life goes on in much the same way as it has before. I say this because 1) it's true, 2) it's easy to get used to things, and 3) I'm kind of sick of people coveting different lifestyles as though that's the only way to be authentic or happy, or to "live the dream." Newsflash - we all have different dreams and every choice you make comes with its own set of problems and inconveniences. So stop worrying about all of those hippies that are living out of their airstreams, making their own yogurt, and saving wild coyotes as they travel the US with their 8 home schooled children. We are not all indie movies.


This is a dimly lit sign for you and for me, brought to us by the eccentric (and dyslexic) Richard Branson.  I'm not working up to a pep talk because I hate them like I hate mosquitoes on a hot summer night. What I'm talking about here is owning it - owning your life. After all, who else have you got to blame? I am only doing about half of the things I would like to be doing with my life, and really, the reason the other half isn't happening is because of myself. My excuses are pretty well polished, but in the end, I know the deal. I am definitely in the midst of owning the choices I've made for myself and with Cal. (midlife crisis anyone?)  And now you're asking yourself, "what does this have to do with living in London?" It's probably a result of the comments I get (mostly online) about how exciting and wonderful my life must be, when the truth is that my life in London is full of the same routines and responsibilities, now populated with British voices. (I realize that last bit is a perk that I can't duplicate in other places and it is about as lovely as hanging out with Emma Thompson and Colin Firth all day.)

Cal still gets up too early and experiments with his workout and diet as he always does. He still goes to work, despite his scheming to become independently wealthy so he can read all day. The kids have to go to school and we have to cajole them into doing homework and chores. They still whine about dinner. I still have to deal with other parents that need a good tongue lashing,

I still bake every day that ends in Y, you know what I'm sayin? Don't make me keep listing this mundane stuff.


So  yeah, there's some different stuff. Like I've learned to faff about in London a few days a week. We've picked up a few new words. We don't have a car and we're pretty good at city navigation via public transport. I do all of my grocery shopping online (which is the holy grail of domestic life and I don't know if I can ever go back). We get to watch goglebox and we keep a supply of digestives in the cupboard. We eat more fish and chips. And bangers and mash. And sausage rolls. Oh, the lovely sausage rolls. Okay, I take it all back. London is better.

But seriously, I'm not buying this "do what you love" as the only approach to making a life. Because if that were the case, I'd be eating molten chocolate cakes with Adam Levine while binge watching TV. Who the hell is going to pay me for that? (Or maybe people could pay to watch?? I might have an idea here. hold on.) I suspect that those people you envy that are doing it their own unique (I use that word loosely) way, are not as profoundly happy or carefree as they project. And I also suspect that any of us can be happy with carefully considered choices and work that would be labeled safe or traditional.

Wherever you are (and however you're getting it done), there are challenges and there are perks, just make sure they're the ones that you want and forget about the rest. Cal and I have wanted to move our family abroad forever - for real, probably since we got married. It took us 15 years to make it happen and there were many failed attempts along the way. Shall I name them? Yes, let's do. There was the project in Doha that fell through, the offer to immigrate to New Zealand, the thisssclose Amsterdam move, and the job in Hong Kong that magically turned into a job in London. I have moments that really annoy the shit out of me here, but hey, I've had those my entire life. But what I also have are these brief fleeting moments of satisfaction - Eli learning to get around the city by himself, the girls learning different languages, the cultural moments that can't be replicated anywhere else. We wanted our kids to experience expat life - we wanted to be expats - and here it is.  Finley will be traveling with her entire year across the city via the tube this afternoon to a giant arena in Greenwich, where there will be thousands of other kids from across London to join in the Young Voices concert. That makes me happy. Holland will be reenacting the Battle of Hastings with her class tomorrow and her line is, "I saw horrible chopped off arms and I heard loud marching!" That makes me happy. I'm also quite happy when I'm moving with the throng of commuters down in the underground tunnels, headphones blaring the latest British sensation, George Ezra. I found a cafe that serves amazing hot chocolate. And that...makes me happy!

We have to find the bright stuff amongst the din of daily life, wherever and whatever that life may be.

And now, this life is headed to the kitchen to find something worth baking and eating. #ijustgottabeme




Mendy Waits3 Comments