Our first week together will always stay with me. It was the introduction to a voyage of discovery for all of us and although it began in a small English airport, it ended with a Great American Tradition.
After the initial frenetic activity of that first day; the excitement of their arrival, clothes and suitcases all over the place, finding somewhere to put everything, exploring the unfamiliar aisles of the local Tesco and the luxury of our first night in the same timezone, it was still the simple, mundane things that gave me pleasure.
Having breakfast together, sitting on the decking in the peacefully enclosed garden, drinking coffee together in the morning, something we’d previously only been able to do (in separate gardens) by careful timing and video link, cooking for each other, showing them around the bustling town centre, introducing Her to friends at the pub, all these everyday little details could have been my own personal “few of my favourite things”, had I been able to make them rhyme.
We fed the ducks and swans on a local lake, we watched as Missy spun herself silly on the roundabout in the park, we walked in the woods and I delighted in the way She took in the beauty of Her newly adopted country and so clearly loved what She saw and we went to the beach. In November!
It was a beautiful sunny Sunday lunchtime and I’d planned to return to the ducks, Missy’s favourite excursion thus far, until it became clear the unseasonably warm weather was going to hold and we made for the summer tourist seaside town of Woolacombe instead.
They both loved it.
She instantly started snapping photos of the beautiful scenery, visible in any direction you cared to look, and Missy scampered straight for the gently breaking surf line, soon to be engrossed in the seemingly universal pastime of collecting shells and pebbles with which to weigh down all our pockets.
After an appetite-bolstering stroll along the sand, what better introduction to English seaside culture than Her first Devon cream tea and Missy’s first Knickerbocker Glory.
The excitable, and obviously American, tones of a little girl laying her eyes on the huge glass of whipped cream-topped dessert drew amused glances from the old lady at the next table and gave me the sensation that we had long ago christened “fizzy chest”, that warm fuzzy glow of contentment that comes only from true happiness.
All in all, a perfect first few days of our new shared life.
Then on Tuesday I had to go back to work.
But even that was ok, because it meant that I could come home to Her and Missy, to a flat filled with the happy sound of laughter and the fabulous smell of home-cooked food.
I could spend my evenings basking in the glow of belonging with someone and then fall asleep in Her arms.
This was what I had so patiently waited for, this was finally our dream coming true.
On Thursday I came home from work to be welcomed by cries of “Happy Thanksgiving!” and the mouthwatering aroma of roast turkey drifting from the kitchen. (She had almost been thwarted in Her culinary pursuits by the lack of turkeys in the thanksgiving-free UK supermarket, eventually having to make do with breast fillets) Missy had even made fresh cranberry sauce.
And after a fabulous dinner, one of a great many things I had to be thankful for that week, we sat down to watch The Game, (you can practically hear the capitalisation when She says it) by which I mean of course American Football.
I had made a point of recording live coverage of the Dallas Cowboys v New York Giants late on Sunday night, to replay on this most traditional of Game watching days, so She sat and watched it with evident enjoyment and gave completely unintelligible (to me anyway) but knowledgeable-sounding analysis throughout, and I not-very-convincingly feigned interest whilst writing the previous post of this blog and conducting a somewhat sarcastic commentary on The Game via Facebook.
So, a week after Her arrival and already I was voluntarily watching pretending to watch something I’d usually scoop my own eyeballs out to avoid and…and this is the amazing part…I was actually enjoying it.
Not The Game itself you understand, it’s as anathema to me as our own ridiculous national alternative, but the whole experience.
I know they will miss those that they left behind and that’s just as it should be, just as those they left behind will miss them. Both She and Missy have had moments of homesickness (how soon do you stop calling it that, when does “here” become “home”?) the scale of which I can only imagine, so any connection of this sort to Her old life is as important to me as anything else in helping Her and Missy settle in.
Overall though, I have been amazed at how resilient the six year old psyche can be and how quickly Missy has adapted to this biggest of Big Adventures.
And as for Her, I believe She has already grown to love living here, despite missing friends and being frustrated at not being eligible to work yet and I just know we are going to be very happy.
So far, and I think I can speak for all three of us here, we have an awful lot to be thankful for.