Saturday, July 21, 2012

The First Three Weeks

I’m not really even sure where to begin on this post.  There’s the ‘returning to the US’ part of the post, and the ‘road trip’ part of the post-and both parts almost have nothing to do with each other, but at the same time my observations from each part are most definitely intertwined.  Well, when in doubt, be organized. J

Returning to the US

That’s really what the first 2 weeks of ‘The First Three Weeks’ are about; returning home.  Home.  Wherever that really is.  Some part of the US?  London?  I’m not really sure at this moment, but that’s OK.
Our first week was spent quite literally buying a car.  I sold my car when I moved to London 4 years ago, and as you kind of need a car to do a cross country road trip, that was first on our agenda when we arrived.  The original plan was to buy a Manual transmission, but, one spin around the local mall parking lot with Simon behind the wheel (for the first time in close to 17 years…), and it became pretty apparent that we’d be getting an Automatic transmission!  I’ve never felt such stress in a car in my life, as I sat in the passenger seat as Simon jerkily made a few circles around the lot-and it really stressed him out as well.  There’s so much for him to have to get used to now-different side of the road (if just mentally, as he never really drove in the UK), the logic of the road signage-never mind the actual driving of the car.  Whew.  We’ll get there eventually.  And though, the original plan was that Simon would be doing some of the driving on the trip (er, the long, straight stretches of the road…), the reality is that it’s really not a good idea until he gets more comfortable.  So I’ll do all of the driving, and Simon will navigate.  Then, once we get to Seattle, we’ll get Simon some professional driving lessons.

In the due course of the first week of being back in the US, I took Simon to Faith, North Carolina for his first July 4th celebration.  
This little town of ~300 people will swell to 30k during the week of July 4th, and one of my dearest friends has grandparents who live there, so I’ve been to the July 4th celebrations before-and knew it was the only proper experience Simon could have for his 1st July 4th.   Faith did not disappoint, and Simon really seemed to love the small-town experience (complete with BBQ sandwich from the fairgrounds).  Good times.

The Rough Life in Myrtle Beach, SC
Week two of the trip was spent with my Dad and his GF in Myrtle Beach, SC.  Myrtle was the summer location of my childhood vacations, and I thought it would be a hoot to go there with Simon & my Dad.  It was good fun, and it was nice to be in an ocean that was as warm as bathwater-even at 10am!  Simon never understood why I had problems getting in chilly water (ocean or pool), until that trip, but now he gets it.

Other than that, most of our first two weeks was taken up with ‘life admin’ from the move-trying to pay final bills, Simon chasing some probate things for his father’s estate, and planning details for the trip.  My father doesn’t have intertwebs, so it seems like we spent a good 10-15 hours over those two weeks in the local Starbucks on their WiFi!

All of the above aside, I would say there has been a bit of the reverse culture shock that so many people said I’d experience when I returned.  Not much, but I think that’s because what we’re doing now isn’t ‘normal life,’ so I anticipate that once we settle in in Seattle, there will be more observations.  Simon has made quite a few (which I hope he will guest blog about in short order), but for me the biggest thing I’ve noticed-and it’s somewhat tied to the ‘haven’t had a car in 4 years’ bit from above:  Must we be on our mobile phones when driving?!?!?  More times than I can count, the near misses on the roads have been from people on their mobiles.  What gives?  Must common sense be legislated?  Sigh.

Road Trip
6 days.  2600 miles.  5 States.  Cities visited thusfar: Charleston, SC; Savannah, GA; Hilton Head, SC; Atlanta, GA; Bridgeport, AL (just so Simon could tick another State off the list…), and we just arrived in Nasheville, TN.

Our lovely room in the 17hundred 90 Inn
Highlights:  Savannah, GA.  I’m supremely embarrassed that I’ve never been to Savannah before, given how close it is to where I spent most of my life, but the two days in Savannah were perfection.  Loved it.  Simon too.  As in, ‘I’d like to retire here’ kind of loved it.  Great everything.   We stayed in this incredible place called the 17hundred90 Inn, and were so happy to be there, I think we walked around with stupid looks on our faces for 2 straight days!
Rockin' on Jack's front porch
Also, cliche though it may seem...we took the Jack Daniels Distillery tour in Lynchburg, TN, and it was incredible!  Great story, great organization, and the information was enough to be educational and entertaining without belabouring the point.  A Plus.

Lowlights:  Navigation.  I’m not patient enough with Simon/the GPS, and need to get better about this, or we’re going to fight every day-and I don’t want to be that way.  As mentioned earlier, Simon doesn’t yet understand the logic of the road signage, so for him to tell me what he sees on GPS (as we’re not able to dashboard mount the thingy…), is frequently misleading/incorrect, and causes immense frustration for me.  Must. Get. More. Patient.

Final Thoughts....Frustrations with my fellow Americans aside, I'm stunned at how quickly I've slipped back into the US.  When we flew out of London, I quite genuinely thought I'd be bawling my eyes out on the air plane at the prospect of leaving London.  Nope.  Instead, it was more like:  "Come on, come on, come on...can't this plane go any faster!"  I'm really not sure where that came from to be honest.  
The Riverwalk in Savannah, GA
Olympic Park in Atlanta, GA
And Similarly for Simon, the stress of the last 2 months in London with his father's death/estate were really taking it's toll.  We were fortunate enough to find a solicitor to take over probate just weeks before we departed, and now that they're in full action mode, there isn't much that Simon has to worry about (er...other than selling the house).  Nevertheless, the move here-and the trip in particular- was the perfect opportunity to 'draw a line' (Simon's words) from that stress.  I think we both still need another week or so to really come down, and then I think we'll be really ready to embrace this new adventure to the fullest.


  1. a) in this country, it's a cell. not a mobile. haha! I've got that change down, but I'm having trouble with the bin/trash. in time...

    b) your road trip sounds amazing! it's a wonderful way to come back gently, sort of - as you note, it's not real life quite yet. so you have time to readjust to america but without the pressures of normal daily stresses. it seems great!

    have a wonderful rest of your holiday :)

    1. heh.. Betsy, you aren't the first person to correct me on that one! :) I have a feeling, this bizarre 'bi-lingual' confusion will continue for some time...And, as I asked Simon the other day: will we speak American-English or British-English in the home?...

  2. Tell him to post his questions on my blog and all the Brits will be there in a flash to help him! Seriously - I just drove a 7 hour drive up to northern Michigan from Chicago and the road signs still have me in fear. You're happily driving along the road/interstate you need to be on, and all of a sudden there's a dozen signs for different freeways - all except the one you need to be on. Obviously you should stay on the road you're driving on, which I remember to do most of the time, but when it splits right down the middle, it's kind of hard to know what to do.
    Only been here 22 years!

  3. You've just inspired my next post and I will credit you with a link!

    1. LOL. Thanks, Expat Mum. I think after some of the driving conversations/experiences we're sharing, I could possibly write an entire book! :)

  4. Thanks for knowledge share, I will be waiting for future posts

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