Thursday, 8 September 2011

Say hello, wave goodbye

Me and Ella at Jamie's Italian
I am writing this post sat on the 13:48 train from Padddington through to Cheltenham, currently waiting for it to depart. I have just said goodbye to my sister-in-law, who I now won’t see until December. Over the last 48 hours, I have also said goodbye to my brother (until December), three of my beloved university girls (until who knows when) and one of my best friends in the whole word who, if she can’t make it to the wedding, will fall into the “who knows when” category. Tomorrow I travel to Plymouth to spend the weekend with my oldest friend and, as we don’t get to spend much time together and she has just moved in with her fiancĂ© (having also upped sticks to be with her man), I foresee much celebrating! But then it will be another goodbye...

Somehow it still doesn’t seem real. Although I have shed tears, and realised that the warmth, support and familiarity that these much-loved people in my life bring, no matter where it is that we meet (both geographically and in terms of the course of our respective lives), will be very soon at a distance that I cannot bridge so easily, I really think it still hasn’t hit me. The fact that the sense I get now, sat in carriage C, of being on the way home to a well-known place, etched with the history of my presence, will be in short supply in a matter of weeks doesn’t seem to register. In part it is, of course, because I am so happy and excited to be with Ben again, and because we have such a great chance at a joyful life together, with so many wonderful people we know on that side of the pond. It is also because it is, without a doubt, the most exciting adventure I’ve ever had, and simultaneously the easiest decision I’ve ever made. I’m exhilarated and calm all at once. ClichĂ©s aside, even if you have loved before, there is a truth that I have had a hard time admitting until Ben and I finally got together: there can be one person that is the one for you, above and beyond statistical likelihoods and circumstantial influences. Usually I would temper this kind of statement with Minchin-like realism, but I don’t feel the need to. Instead I will stick with the most wonderful line of that song, because that’s exactly how I feel: 

“But with all my heart, and all my mind, I know one thing is true: I have just one life and just one love, and my love, that love is you.”

I spy the US flag...
The other reason that I think I am perhaps still not ready to face up to the reality of my leaving is because I simply haven’t done it yet. I can therefore occupy my time fretting about the minutiae of the move, rather than the event itself. In much the same way that I will now turn the volume up on my iPod so that I can’t hear the irritating noise of the train’s conductor informing me of factual times of arrival over the tannoy, my brain will increase the volume of my concerns over furniture arrangements, where the US Embassy is in relation to Paddington station, and whether or not I should buy a new outfit for the interview, whilst ignoring the glaring summation of all of this preparation: I will leave everything I have known for 28 years.

I don’t know how it will feel to miss people from a distance. I’ve never been further away from friends and family than about 90 minutes on a train or along the M4, so projecting myself forward and trying to envisage experiencing that kind of emotion is, so far, impossible. I’ve had people travel away from where I am, sure: so many of my friends have done long-term travelling abroad, worked abroad, and both of my bridesmaids have been away for long stretches of time. Joy even lived in Thailand for a year, which I found tough, just because of the lack of easy contact. But it’s different being the one leaving. And it’s also different in that I’m leaving without any definitive return plan. Admittedly, I know people who went away for a year in the first instance, with a job lined up at their destination or just working to keep travelling, but when away decided to stay indefinitely. So it’s not like that doesn’t happen; plans change all the time. But leaving knowing that we are going to consider the US as a permanent option adds something to goodbyes for both me and my friends, I think. It’s the not knowing anything for sure right now, and it’s the potential for one seriously huge change.

Because it’s a change born of such a happy union, though, I think we’ll all be okay. It’s this certainty that’s my biggest comfort and my greatest strength: I’m not really getting further away; we’re all just becoming more connected, through joy and love. And the internet. 


  1. Oh dear, I'm not ready to do the goodbyes yet. I'm going to wait until I've been approved before I start making plans but I'm not looking forward to it. Not because I'll find it difficult but because I know my friends and family are very emotional about it. I'm at a point where I am looking at it as an adventure and I just want to be with my husband again.
    Nothing in life is set in stone, the two of you might end up living somewhere else in the world. All that matters is that you're together xx

  2. The goodbyes kinda have to start now because my friends are scattered all over the place, so if I just used the two weeks after my visa interview and (hopeful) issuance, I wouldn't be able to see everyone. It was difficult, both because we all found it emotional, but also (as you say), because I am so excited that I think I have muted any upset I'm feeling. It does feel like such an adventure and I'm so, so excited to be with Ben again. :D Saying goodbye to my parents will be a different thing, though... :/

    Thank you for the kind words and support, it's much appreciated. :) Hope you've had a good day. xx

  3. It is certainly an odd thing to move to another country. The thing is it can feel different from day to day once you arrive in the US. I do miss old friends and family sometimes and the whole thing feels a bit more mundane and less of an adventure for me now. But I do like being with my wife and there is lots of new stuff for me to explore. And the internet is a great way of keeping in touch with people! :-)

  4. Thanks for the comment, Paul. :) I can imagine that it gradually feels less like an adventure and more like everyday life, but I honestly am looking forward to both those aspects of the move. And exploring is so much fun - plus I get to do that with my husband! Totally agree about the internet too; blogs, FB, Twitter and Skype are all going to be very helpful in the coming months/years.


Thanks for taking the time to write! I try to reply to everyone, and I love to read your comments.