Tag Archives: moving home

Driving

This morning at the Massachusetts RMV I learned that because my Virginia license expired while I was living in England and could not be renewed online, in order to get a Massachusetts license I would have to take the learner’s permit exam, pass it, then schedule and pass a road test.

Like a 16 year old kid. 

I have had a driver’s license since 1995 and yet I was going to have to take the permit test to get a learners permit, which would then mean I could not drive alone in my car without an adult over the age of 21 along with me until I could take a road test.

I laughed out loud standing at the counter in the RMV, and I think the clerk was relieved that I found this hilarious instead of frustrating beyond description.  Luckily the kids aren’t in school yet, sports haven’t started up, and both Matt and I work from home, so me not being able to drive isn’t THAT big of a deal.  I laughed and laughed and paid the $30 to take the permit test that I last took when I was 15 years and 9 months old.

And then I failed the permit test.

I laughed out loud again, but more in shock than in humor.

I failed because I did not know what the punishment is for a first time speeding offense for a junior operator between the ages of 18 and 21 in the state of Massachusetts.  Or whether your license can be suspended for 30-, 60-, or 90-days for being caught using your cell phone while driving.  I also did not know whether the fine for not wearing a seat belt was $15, $25, or $50.  I did not know 8 questions like that and so I failed the test with a score of 17/25 when I needed 18 to pass. 

I wish so much that I had taken a picture of Matt’s face when I walked out of the permit room and informed him that I had failed.  It was a sight to behold.

I went back to the clerk and shook my head and he also looked quite surprised and I asked if they had a book with some of the info on fines, punishments, and suspensions that I could maybe glance at. They provided me with a copy of the book you get in Drivers’ Ed and I found the appropriate section and I memorized as many fines as I could in ten minutes.  I went back to the clerk, paid another $30, and passed the test in the first 18 questions, thank the gods.

And then, at age 39, I received my learner’s permit, which I will literally frame once I take and pass a road test and get a real license.  Until then, hopefully Matt will let me drive while he sits in the passenger seat so I can get some driving practice.   Just in case the last 23 years wasn’t enough.

Empty

Other than a few thrift-store-bound coffee mugs we saved to use until we leave and the appliances with UK plugs we can’t take with us, my house is empty.  Our things have all been packed away, wrapped up and boxed up and, as I write this, they are being loaded on a truck bound for a ship bound for America. 

My house looks like it did the day we arrived: a blank slate waiting to be filled up.

I know this house was never really mine, never really ours, but for three years we made it so and we loved it like it was.  It has seen us through one of the biggest transitions our family will likely ever know: becoming expats, finding our new selves in a new culture, creating this life in England and all the changes it wrought in all of us. 

Places become part of you, part of your story, and this wonky old farmhouse with crooked walls and wavy window glass and an 800-year old church next door is as much a character in this chapter of our lives as the people we met and came to love.

All I can think of as I look around the rooms stripped bare is the overwhelming anticipation and fear and hope I felt during our first days here.  The empty rooms were waiting then to see what story we’d write here, I was waiting to see what our life would be here, we were all waiting to see what would happen here.  And now, we’ve reached the end and the rooms stand empty once again.

We’ll stay in this empty house for the next few days, sleeping on air mattresses and eating off paper plates like we did when we first arrived, and I will say goodbye to all the things I love most about it: the light-filled hallway outside our bedrooms, the view of the sunrise from my window, the kitchen island where we have breakfast every morning and snacks every afternoon, the gorgeous fairy tale garden surrounded by the moss-covered stone wall. 

For the life we built in this place: grateful doesn’t cover it, fortunate doesn’t cover it.  Moving to England was, hands down, the best choice we ever made for our family. 

My heart is full.

One Month

One month from today we will be sitting on an airplane, getting ready to head back to America.

The grand adventure will be over.

My emotions these days swing like a pendulum, one minute devastated to be leaving and the next ecstatic to be going home.  Nothing I can do but let those emotions be what they are; there’s no changing them and both sides of the swing represent honest feelings.

The kids are still mostly excited, although last week Gabe quietly told me he’s now feeling 50/50 about leaving (and actually more sad than happy, he whispered).  I know, bud.  Right there with you.

The last week or two of school will be hard as they all realize that they really do have to say goodbye. 

But man, what an adventure we’ve had.  Thirteen countries visited, several of them multiple times, and one more trip to Greece before we leave to make the total fourteen.  We’re bigger in thought and feeling and knowledge and experience and that will stay with us all forever.

We’ve made friends here that we’ll hold on to and who give us a reason to come back, and friends that are moving on to other places all over the world who will give us a reason to visit new places and see and learn and do even more.

I would change nothing about this adventure.  How abundantly, ridiculously lucky we are to have had it.  An embarrassment of riches. 

The ending, too, is our chance to really see how it’s changed us: what have we learned that we can carry forward, what have we done that will make our future experiences more interesting, what can we do to hold on to the best parts of our life here as we create our new one there

Thus, the adventure continues.

School Update

This morning at school drop-off, I almost cried.  This is our last week of the term and then we head into the long Easter break (3.5 weeks off!).  When the kids go back to school at the end of April, it will be their last term in England.

While I knew that was going to be hard to handle, I thought I’d make it until June at least before I started crying about it.

Turns out?  I was wrong.

Last week was the sign-up for extracurricular activities for the coming term.  Instead of jumping on the laptop that night and waiting for the activity portal to open, I didn’t manage to sign the boys up for their clubs until the next morning.  When I checked the activity board at school this morning, I saw that Quinn didn’t get into Athletics club, the number one thing he wanted to do this coming term.  He’s on the waiting list, but who knows if five children will drop out in the first week so he can participate.  I haven’t told him yet.

When I realized what had happened, and that it was 100% entirely my own fault, I felt the tears start to well up.  You see, it’s more than him just not being able to do Athletics club (which is basically like track and field – all kinds of running and jumping and throwing).  I realized that if he doesn’t get to do this club this coming term, he never will.  Cause this is our last term here at this amazing, incredible school that offers multiple free after-school clubs every day of the week.

I made it to my car before I cried, thus successfully avoiding embarassing myself or the children.  I’ll save that for later in the school year, as the end truly approaches, when I doubt I’ll make it a single week without crying over leaving this school.

I am so happy to be moving home, truly, in every way.  Until I think about schools. 

I know there’s no school like this in America.  Even the private schools that charge twice as much as our tuition here aren’t as good.  And I just want to scream because I can’t give my children everything I want: this amazing school, but in the location where we want to live permanently.  I want to pick it up and drag it across the ocean with me and plant it in the town where we’re going to live and go on enjoying the fantastic teachers and interesting curricula and amazing sports programs and afterschool clubs and school lunches better than what I cook for myself at home.  Now that we’ve had this, now that we know it exists, how do we leave?

The answer is that we have to, so we do the best we can.  And we go to our new schools with optimism and open minds and hope.  And a plan to join the PTA and run for school board. 

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