We’re back to school here and settling in to the lovely routine of fall and sports and activities. The lazy days of summer stretched out for what seemed like ages, and we soaked up the slow mornings and relaxed schedules and late bedtimes and weekend trips. But by the end of August we were all ready for the hustle and bustle to return; even relaxation gets old if you do too much of it.
But even in it’s welcome familiarity, this school year is different. It’s our last here in England. I feel it more deeply than the kids, I think, for whom the last two years seem to have been a lifetime. I know how quickly the next months will go by.
I’ve already started my morbid tendency to memorialize the “last time” we’re about to do anything. And this year makes it so easy. This is my last September in England. I’m strolling around my garden, saying goodbye to September roses and apples on trees and conkers – those most British of garden friends, little spiky balls that kids pelt one another with and which supposedly keep the spiders out of your house. Every school event is our last: the last autumn cross-country season, the last back to school night with a wine and cheese bar, the last hurrah for all of it. Events and traditions that were so foreign to us just two short years ago have so quickly become near and dear; my heart is already sad to let it all go.
We don’t have to leave, really. Matt’s job will still be here, we could keep on with the grand adventure. But all good things must come to an end, and we’re choosing a new adventure, albeit somewhat reluctantly.
There are things we miss about home that will make returning worth it. But we’re new people now, we’ve changed in ways I never anticipated, and our lives are better for having lived somewhere new and different and foreign. We won’t be satisfied going back to the same old thing we left behind. And so the challenge will be to create a whole new life, with equal parts America and England, to find the balance between what we missed while we lived away and what we learned to love even more than anything we’d known before coming.
But first, this last year. I’ll fight my natural inclination to live in the future and do my best to be present. I don’t want to take away the joys of actually being here, not from me or Matt or the kids.
And we’ve got big plans to finish — the ever-growing and changing list of places to see remains a work in progress, but with a much more limited time frame in which to accomplish it all. Plans are constantly in the works, reservations being made, suggestions added and reality ignored for the most part. There’s no way to do everything we want, to be honest. And so, we say, we’ll have good reasons to come back and visit.
With the autumn well upon us here, and football for the boys and hockey for Bridget and turning leaves and holidays and half-term trips, this beginning of the end is upon us, and it’s just up to us to make the most of it.