If you’re relocating to London (like I did over a couple of years ago), for the next few posts I’m going to be sucking up an amount of pride and privacy on your behalf. Well, I suppose I shouldn’t assume it’s going to do you any good, but hoping it offers some empathy as you get yourself situated. The thing is, I’ve always been a bit of a Dear Diary kind of gal, and while I no longer chronicle daily experiences as an adult, I always do record my travels. So upon first moving to London, I figured I ought to try the same at least from the get-go…that is, until living in London began to feel like the everyday to me and not a vacation. There’s not too many of these entries, but I’ll start sharing what’s there.
To give a little necessary context, I moved over as an accompanying spouse for my husband’s job. I taught high school English back home, but UK visa delays prevented me from procuring work prior to our London move. So, basically, when we finally did move over, it was my job to find us a London apartment to rent, unpack our crap and create a new home of it, job-search, and otherwise wander the city and pick my nose.
And so, *ahem*:
21.10.08 [as is writ in the journal…that’s the European date format, which places the day before the month, FYI]
I sit here with pen in hand wondering why it is so difficult for me to get started. I suppose it’s because I don’t know quite how to approach writing of my daily life in one of my travel journals. Ordinarily, the everyday stuff has no place here, but I find myself in, what is for me, an unusual situation. How am I to chronicle a life abroad? Not just touring this time. Living. Getting settled. Eventually, getting a job. In London. At first I thought maybe I’d do little daily entries of my days in brief (at least these introductory days of unemployment): “Woke late. Wandered around. Had a chai latte and croissant at Starbucks. Got lost. Found my way back. Contacted a negotiator [lettings agent] and viewed some flats.” But I didn’t, and I’m not sure why. Probably laziness, as once I get my journals going, I don’t really want to reduce them to succinct statement of fact; I want them detailed so I can live and breathe them again whenever I pick up one of these leather-bound tomes of my international existence. I want details like the luxury of sleeping in for the fifth month of a prolonged summer vacation, yet the stress involved in such when the maid at the extended-stay hotel knocks on the door and I have to flail out of bed with an apology and request that she come back later, afterwards feeling like the biggest loser, the only one in the hotel without a purpose demanding that I be up and showered and dressed by a respectable A.M. time. The same shame occurs when I preemptively hang the “Do Not Disturb” sign to avoid the aforementioned stress, as I am then stressed when imagining the neighbors can hear what I’m doing (the re-chaining of the door from within after opening [it being] the dead giveaway) and the maid seeing my sign and shaking her head in judgment. Tail between my legs, I slink back under the sheets and bury my shame in 2-3 more hours of sleep…
Hey, I never promised it would be interesting. Just the beginnings of real, authentic thoughts of an American expat living in London for the very first time, and not even in an actual London apartment yet. It may sound mundane, but, like it or not, this is the common existence for the trailing spouse or partner at the outset, until we make our own friends and find our own jobs in London or discover other outlets for our skills and passions. It’s a displacement that takes a while to adjust to, but I promise that there is no more engaging place to do so than London, and, honestly, hiring on the services of a London relocation agency will expedite that transition. Don’t wait as long as we did—3 weeks in a hotel!!! Meh, more on that in my next installment of “Relocating to London: The American Expat in London Diaries.”