Thursday, 16 April 2009


“It’s spring fever.  That is what the name of it is.  And when you’ve got it, you want--oh you don’t quite know what it is you want, but it just fairly makes your heart ache, you want it so!”--Mark Twain

I’ve got that.  The heartache.  The longing for I’m not sure what.  A day with sunshine finds my heart leaping and rejoicing and both the present and the future seem so bright.  A day with overcast clouds always makes me want to stay in my jammies and sometimes sends me into fits of depressed self examination--not to mention fear and uncertainty.  Such is the reality of April, I suppose.  Such is the reality of a new season in a new land.  

Spring here is beautiful.  First there were blankets of waxy green leaves poking up here and there in huge clusters in the grass.  Nettles appeared on the bridleways and public footpaths along with something that reminds me of parsley.  The waxy green leaves turned out to be crocuses.  Mass amounts of purple and white and yellow all blooming right there in the middle of the grass in parks and yards all around.  So cute and so helpful.  They whispered to me the secret, “Don’t worry!  Spring is around the corner!”  When the daffodils bloomed I was beside myself with the sheer beauty.  Hundreds and thousands of daffodils all blooming--a little more intentionally planted mind you--but right there in the middle of the parks.  By the time the azalias and apple trees put on their blossoms I started to hope.  Hope that I might come to like and appreciate and even ENJOY this new country we live in.  

Winter here was wicked.  Cold and wet and the sun shone for such a very short period of time every day.  All of the sudden it was March and I felt I’d been under a rock since Christmas.  Perhaps that’s why the blogs were so few and far between.  I couldn’t bring myself to do much except move through the days and weeks with one foot in front of the other.  We moved of course.  We began our homeschooling journey.  We had company from the States.  That’s a ton, I now realize.  Still, somehow I felt stuck.  Dormant.  Then the crocuses came, and I began to understand the life of a bulb.  The sense in the seasons.  The need for the quiet and the dark.  Maybe I too, could wake up and be brave enough to extend my fragile tendrils towards the sun.    

I was sure for a while that the thing making my heart ache--the thing that I wanted so was home.  This journey to England has not been easy.  Loneliness.  Depression.  Questioning. Why did we do this again? Worrying.  Wondering.  So much to give up, and it is hard sometimes to see what I am gaining in exchange.  What’s a few castles compared to the comfort and familiarity of an afternoon with my mom and sisters or the epic snow forts in the back yard.  What is adventure compared to Opening Day at Coors Field?  

It’s hard to even admit that it is hard.  Sometimes I think people will judge me or be angry that I am struggling.  “Look what you get to do!”  the judge in my head says.  “You should be thankful!  Lots of people would give their right arm to experience what you are experiencing!”  But if they knew, would they keep their appendages?  Knew the loneliness of new rules in friend-making.  Months gone by without coffee or lunch dates or girls night outs or backyard fire-pit evenings filled with good company and good food.  Knew the pain in their child’s eyes when he realizes there are no friends to spend a holiday with and daddy isn’t even home.  Knew the physical stress that comes with navigating a new culture’s grocery offerings and a new climate’s deep effect on the psyche.  Would they do it if they knew that dates with spouses would be very rare?  That there is no equivalent to Target and it’s difficult to find something as simple as a pair of little boy’s jeans?  

Would I have come if I could have known?  I always remember what Aslan says more than once to Lucy throughout different Narnia books.  “No one is ever told what could have been.”  

Still, here I am.  It’s hard.  It’s hard to sit at home while Scott travels the world.  It’s hard to navigate new friendships.  It’s hard to live in a country with so very little sunlight.  But then Spring has arrived, and I feel myself beginning to awaken.  

Awakening to the beauty of this climate.  There are flowers absolutely everywhere and more to come!  Many of the trees still don’t have their leaves but we have lettuce and sunflowers and tomatoes planted.  Also it smells delicious.  All fresh and loamy all the time after the rain.  Plus the sun DOES shine--albeit not as much as in Colorado.  Nevertheless, there is sunshine and overall I’d say the weather over the last 3 weeks has been nothing short of gorgeous!  

Awakening to the culture and appreciating the differences.  I quite enjoy the village life and the polite friendliness of the folks here.  I’m learning to navigate it and am feeling more and more at home.  

Awakening to a new way of being a family.  Less people in our lives means less commitments.  Less commitments means more time with one another.  I’m learning to appreciate and enjoy these three men in my life in ways I’m not sure I would have without this adventure and this catalyst for time spent together.  There are fewer buffers, but I find I need them less than I thought.  

I’m also awakening to new friendships that are sprouting. Coming to the surface here in this Spring.  We spent last Friday on a neighbor’s land to hang out with their ponies and horse and have a BBQ.  We spent Saturday exploring a castle with a woman who is becoming a good friend and her fun husband who was great with the boys.  Monday we met my old college buddy and her hubby at ‘Peter Pan Park’ and wonder of wonders--the sun came out!  Four and a half hours of sand castles and make believe later the boys were still reluctant to leave and Bridger said there was no better place to be than in London.  I smiled as I realized that right now, right that minute it was absolutely true.  I didn’t want to be anywhere else.

I don’t know if I would have come, if I had known how hard it would be.  I suppose it doesn’t really matter.  I am here now.  I choose to be here.  I’m even enjoying being here.  I’m breathing the clean air, and I’m pushing up towards the sun.  I’m gaining nutrients from the local soil.  I suppose you could say I’m blooming where I was transplanted.  

Thursday, 9 April 2009

Easter Alone

‘J Cori Anderberg doesn’t want to be alone on a holiday.’ That’s what I’d like to write on my facebook status update tonight. But I don’t want to sound all pathetic and sad. Like someone fishing for an invite. Fishing for invites is the type of thing that eats away at one’s dignity. Or perhaps just one’s pride. Scott is Stateside for the next week and a half. I’m alone--well, without Scott--on a holiday. It’s such a lonesome prospect.

There are probably any number of folks I could hang out with. Any number of people I could give a ring and say, “Hey, whatcha doin’ for Easter? Mind if three of us Anderbergs tag along?” I’m sure I will. Call, I mean. I’ll suck it up and make a phone call or two or three. I’ll be brave. Right now though, I just feel sad and pitiful and it brings up all kinds of pain.

Once again, here I am...a foreigner in a foreign land. I’m so used to being the includer. It’s tricky being the one with the need to be included. Once again I’m leery, cause I still don’t quite know the rules. I am learning though that the rules are pretty important over here. An English friend had said they didn’t have plans either. I said we should do something. Then emailed and asked if they wanted to get together. She texted me today inviting me over Saturday. I’m stoked. I think we’re going to go to a castle and it’s supposed to be one of the good ones. We’ll have a great day. She’s super fun, and I love to be around her and her hubby and their little guy. But...well, I’m still without a gig for Easter. Nothin’ to do on a holiday, and I’m pretty sure the rules are that I don’t say, “couldn’t we do Sunday instead?”

Plus, I’m the mom. So I’m the one who’s supposed to make it special and fun. I realized on Wednesday that I had no plan. Not good. But not too big of a problem. What does one need but an Easter egg hunt and a couple of cute Easter baskets filled with plastic grass and Peeps?!? I even had a great idea--these cutie pie gardening tool bags with kid-sized tools they’d loved at the local garden center. Perfect for an Easter basket! Well, I looked everywhere for plastic eggs. No love. I went back to get the tool bags. No love there either. Plastic grass or Peeps? Fuggedaboutit. I can’t even find a UK ‘PAAS’ equivalent to color our eggs!

On the one hand the lack of uber-commercialization of holidays here is refreshing. Christmas was nuts, but it’s the only one that’s been like that. Easter, Halloween, Valentine’s Day--these all get a minor poster or two and an end-cap’s worth of confectionary. No big deal. I like that most of the time, but this time the commercial goodies were the only way I could think of to make the holiday seem even partially normal.

There will not be new polo shirts and cute shorts for the boys from Old Navy. There will be no brunch on the front patio at Mom’s eating Dad’s omelettes and Sawan’s divine deviled eggs. No sneaking gluten-filled bites of Ellie’s whoppit-biscuit cinnamon rolls with orange icing when the boys aren’t looking. There won’t be the traditional Cherry Knolls Easter Egg Hunt on Saturday with bucketfuls of fun toy-filled eggs and Starbucks coffee for the set-up crew. Or Grammie’s front-yard egg hunt Easter morning with gobs of penny and nickle and dime-filled plastic eggs and hints of “warmer, waaaaaaaaarrrrrrmmmmeeerrrr, warmer, oops! Colder, colder, colder.” No apres festivities Rockies game--either at the field or on my parent’s couch. Certainly no backyard-baseball. The best part of the day.

I’m lonesome. I’m homesick. It’s exacerbating as all get-out that Scott is gone too. Bad enough that I’m without the aunties and uncles and friends and neighbors that make a holiday what we’ve come to know it to be--now I’m without my partner and the boys’ dad.
Here is where I start to realize my need for perspective and realize I sound a bit like a whiner. My sister-in-law is without her partner and the daddy to her little boy and brand new baby girl. Plus he doesn’t get back next weekend, like Scott does. Such is the life of a soldier’s wife. I have a lot to be thankful for.

So, I’ve decided to hide the boys’ Easter baskets and print the clues on egg-shaped paper. There won’t be any plastic grass or Peeps, but they’ll love what I got them. I’m crap at omelets, but I am going to make deviled eggs. I may invite some folks over or ask if we can tag along. I’m not sure yet, but I’m trying not to worry. When Bridger and Caid realized that it was Easter on Sunday, B said, “We gotta make some plans! We need some decorations! Some good food. What do they eat here [in England] for Easter?” I smiled. There’s nothing like new traditions. And lucky, blessed me--I won’t be alone on a holiday.