Returning to the daily grind after the Christmas break has been just as pleasant as being at home really, only in a different way.
The fact that I come home to Her smiling face, the smells of cooking and a happily chattering Missy, working on her latest art project or giving a running commentary on a TV show, makes the day less of a drag somehow, my mood instantly lifts as I drive home each evening and the thought of sinking into a domestic routine never seemed more attractive.
Missy is properly engrossed in school now, the easing-in period of visits from Santa and Christmas parties is over and now there’s homework and gym class, a new dinner menu and “forest school” (outdoor pursuit classes), along with the much-anticipated trip to Paignton Zoo at the end of the month and a “baking and pajama party” to be earned by not receiving any bad behaviour points.
And she shows all the signs of loving every minute, making the most of her minor celebrity status as the only American in a school full of curious English children, who think her accent is “cool” and ask her about life across the pond as if she’s a traveller from another world. Which I suppose to them, she is.
As for Her, now more than ever she is keen to get out and start working, but as usual in this journey of ours, we are once again being held back by the talons of bureaucracy.
The initial “twenty working days” we were quoted by the registrar, to check Her divorce papers with the relevant authorities in America, passed sometime around New Year’s Eve, and on enquiring what was taking so long, I was informed that the lady responsible for our application was on holiday.
Not only that, but when she returned and eventually got in touch, it was just to tell us that the chief registrar was now running two weeks behind schedule and we would have to wait until their backlog was cleared.
In other words, just the sort of bad timing and disorganization that had dogged practically every step of our trip through the maze of bureaucratic beartraps and official obfuscation we’d been cautiously negotiating since September.
So on Tuesday this week I finally lost patience and called her again (despite the warning from our registrar that “head office have specifically told us not to ring for updates, as it just slows them down”) only to be told that she was on holiday AGAIN, but was back the next day and would get in touch.
And would you believe it, but she actually did.
And less believable still, our application had been processed and we could now get married pretty much whenever we liked!
Now all we had to do was make sure our chosen witnesses were available at such short notice and pick a day.
It seemed at the same time to be both the most surreal thing I could imagine and the most natural thing in the world, but one thing I was completely sure of; the thought of spending the rest of my life with Her, and the two of us watching Missy grow up together made me incredibly happy in a way that I’d never known before.
Oh, and of course there’s that one last minor hurdle of the visa exchange to make our lives unnecessarily interesting, but that seems like a mere formality.
Nothing’s going to stop us now.