On December 18, 2008 I landed at Heathrow Airport with three suitcases, a dog, and a lot of nervousness. The sky was grey, in fact, so much about the UK seemed grey, having migrated from the green lands of the American south. We crammed everything into the rental car and I was driven (I was terrified of the idea of driving) to Oxford, where I would find myself in a type of life ‘restart.’ I had to learn all the weird and wonderful things of England, and then all the really weird things about Oxford (like why they call the Thames the Isis here… it’s because Thames in Latin in ‘Tamesis” and they shortened it to “Isis” because… Oxford…) which I would assemble into my brain over the coming years to pull out every time a friend or relative came to visit.
Fun fact of moving abroad: I’m a treasure trove of English trivia. I’m a bit rusty on all the early kings, mostly because of their love of lots of vowels in their names.
In the intervening ten years I would run three marathons, have a kid, manage through what is an utter miracle purchase a home, and lose my doggie – the namesake of this blog – after 16 1/2 years of amazingness only 3 days before he and I set foot on this ‘precious stone set in the silver sea.’ His ashes are scattered across his favourite forest where we’d throw his orange squeaky, part of this land forevermore.
Due to his passing I am now entirely a crazy cat lady, and I am now even more crazy because technically all my cats are imported. Somehow I think the dog would be proud. But who would be really proud are my people, my Townies (as I’m not part of the Oxford student population and I didn’t run off all scared and start some inferior university called Cambridge), who would gladly take my cats on walks using leads or possibly a ride in specially made kitty bike baskets because we bike everywhere like a bunch of green hippies.
Fun fact of moving abroad: I ride bikes and rent electric cars and compost my leftovers and own a water butt NOT because it sounds funny but because we use it to water plants. But it’s an incredibly funny name. Water butt.
A few years ago I even managed to get dual citizenship. I had to take a test that, in keeping with the fact that my trivia knowledge is primarily focused on England, was all about Wales. I also learned that if you want your kid to be Benedict Cumberbatch famous, name him ‘Isambard‘ or ‘Lancelot‘ but call him ‘Kingdom’ or ‘Capability’ because if you go there – YOU GO THERE. The English understand that if you commit to crazy, you commit.
Not necessary to mention but still a fun fact: I’ve met Benedict Cumberbatch twice. Tom Cruise once. And yell at films where they park at the Radcliffe Camera because you TOTALLY CAN’T DO THAT.
So as I stand on the peak of my ten years here and look ahead to however many years I’ve got on this land that will, according to experts, either descend into a Mad Max existence where a legit job will be jumping on the war drums as you drive into battle, or descend into a Mad Max existence where a legit job will be jumping on the war drums as you drive into battle, I look with hope. It’s been a wild ten years. Completely unexpected.
Let’s see what happens next.