Hang on a minute while this relocation thing turns into a full time job. God, if I thought moving house last year was an effort, it pales into insignificance in comparison to moving countries. With eight weeks to go I thought I had everything in the bag, but the horrible realisation that I’ve only scratched the surface is beginning to dawn. I did the entire ‘leaving Dubai’ bit in about two days. I forgot that the ‘arrive in London’ bit would be slightly more daunting.
Let’s take the house hunting to begin with. I thought I was organised. I’ve been looked online for months, since the whole ‘we might be going to London’ thing reared it’s ugly head. I know the market inside out. So you’d think it would be a quick job to put together a list of places to view when I go to London next week for my recce.
How mistaken you would be. I’ve just spent the best part of two hours tonight emailing and conversing with estate agents about viewings next week. Prior to that I spent a full week researching the houses I wanted to view, and another afternoon over the weekend printing out the particulars, seeing where they were on a map, and figuring out how far each one was to the school and the station, to make sure the men in my life are fully catered for. It doesn’t matter to me where the house is; at the moment I can’t envisage when I might leave it.
For starters I have no friends. I mean, I do, but not the sort that pick your son up from school if you need to, I dunno, work or something. Not the kind that live just around the corner, who will take your little cherub for the afternoon so you can get some unpacking done, do the housework, or sit rocking gently in a corner lamenting the state of your unmanicured nails. I leave all those friends behind in Dubai. And to get new versions I need to wait for school to start. And probably join the PTA, dammit. (Sobs. Stamps feet.) So I have to accept that I will be doing most of this on my own. Which means I need to be in control of the entire move. Which means I have to organise it. Everything, from the container packing to the paperwork we take on the plane; from the cat boarding to new uniform shopping; from dawn ’til dusk everyday this task will be mine, to sort, order, plan and plot, all while I entertain my lovely little boy.
Because before any of that making friends stuff happens we have the summer holidays. Which, due to an early finish in Dubai and a late start in London, are approximately ten and a half weeks long. TEN AND A HALF WEEKS. WTF am I going to do with a five year old for TEN AND A HALF WEEKS?? With no toys until the container arrives? Whenever the hell that is. So I have the summer to plan as well, on top of the move. Where shall we go, what shall we do? How do we get there? Do we need tickets? I comfort myself with the idea that it might be nearly three months before I have any time to myself again, but at least I can order wine online to be delivered to the house on a regular basis. That’s always assuming my new sim card arrives for my phone and I can get on the internet in the first place.
Maybe we can get in the car and drive somewhere exciting each week, to keep things interesting. Drive? Oh hang on, that would require a car. Back we go to the internet for more research. And a couple more mornings spent test driving various models of small SUVs and MPVs and what the hell is the difference anyway and will any of them will fit in the parking space outside the house that I haven’t found yet? If it doesn’t have a garage or off street parking. (Heads back to check each house on the list for parking – another hour).
Anything else? Leaving dos. Must organise dinner/drinks/coffee/brunch/lunch with everyone. Not too soon though, or they’ll want to do it all over again before we go. I didn’t want a big do with everyone but I’m starting to see the attraction. One do, one date, one time. Hey, does anyone want to organise a leaving do?
What about a cleaner? And a babysitter? When does the container arrive again? Shit, the insurance forms. Don’t forget to fill those in. And the cats. A trip to see the cattery and pay the deposit is another nice little trip to eat up half a morning.
FOR SALE: Yeah, let’s talk about that. Let’s talk about the woman who wanted to buy my guest bed and came to the house and used the bathroom and came out after five full minutes saying ‘I’ve opened the window’. EWWWW. And left water all over the floor from the bum hose thing. And then didn’t buy the bed. Let’s talk about the toys, the furniture, the bits and bobs, the Dubai wardrobe of shoes and dresses, all too good to throw away but such a friggin’ hassle to sell. Let’s talk about how I’m driving the books to one charity, the toys to another, the boy’s clothes to a third. Another day or two just for distribution. Does anyone want to buy a bed?
And somehow, in all of that, I’m trying to find time to make the most of my last few weeks. But time is leaking away and so are the people. They have their own thing going on, they don’t want to hear about me leaving. I know, because I’ve been there too.
I feel like I’m in between worlds – neither here nor there. I am terrified and sad but I don’t have time to be terrified or sad and no one is interested in me being terrified or sad anyway. I’m excited but I don’t have time for that either, and I keep thinking that being excited is a bit of a fool’s errand, given I’ve got all of the above to get through. I’m not alone, I know; I’ve read several articles doing the rounds at the moment that are kindly being sent to me at every opportunity with titles like ‘The Dark Side of Repatriation’ or telling me things like ‘make sure you leave well, rather than leave happy’. I’m not ungrateful. But just trying to figure out what that means took me the whole of yesterday morning. Personally I think I’ll just be leaving knackered.
8 thoughts on “On your marks…”
Aaaaarghghghg! I hear you.
Evenings. Does your boy have a bedtime that will leave you evenings to unpack (or drink wine if you can’t face unpacking?)
It will get done, and then you will always be able to look back and be incredibly impressed with yourself, and think “Blimey, I did THAT, so now THIS is a piece of cake”. And you will be able to smile smugly and silently to yourself whenever you hear someone complain about moving house within the same city. Like that’s a big deal!
Why don’t more people comment on your blog? You write brilliantly. You say what so many expats feel, and you put it in a nutshell. Hmmm… Maybe you should “promote” your blog more (I can’t remember what that means, it’s so long since I did it, and everything’s changed now anyway). There’s a BritMums conference in London in the summer – might you be back in time for it? I think you should hit the blogging world.
Not wanting to intrude, but I do think you have a gift for writing and capturing expat angst, in all its many incarnations.
Thank you! I don’t know why more people don’t comment – and I have to admit I don’t promote as much as I should. I’m actually in the throes of editing my book, and researching and writing it has been taking most of my energies for the past two years. But as the book is about being an expat I imagine it might be wise to do as you suggest and get myself out there! Thanks for the heads up re. BritMums. I’ll try to find my way out of the boxes to get there. And thanks again for the words of encouragement.
Love the story about the lady who pretended she wanted to buy your bed so she could have a sneaky number 2! The flip side of that is the rubbish some people want to sell you when they are leaving. Out of date food, half used clingfilm, probably half used loo roll too! Just found your blog – it’s fab. Agree with ‘iotamanhattan’, why aren’t more people commenting?
Hello, welcome! I have no idea why the lack of comments…I post through Facebook too and alot of comments are put on there I suppose. But I welcome them, so keep commenting! PS. people sell clingfilm?
In a hardship posting – yes, leaving expats sell clingfilm and all sorts of other random items that aren’t available in country…and people buy them (dusty video player sold, 6th hand little tikes car – sold…with a waiting list)….Half used clingfilm is just rude though – in the case of unnamed individual selling it, it wouldn’t have surprised me if she’d tried selling her used loo brushes too!
Wow. You must be living somewhere pretty hardcore! Dubai, not quite the same issues ;-)
Not any more, the clingfilm sales took place in Lagos. We are now living a clingfilm-full existence in Jo’burg.