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So an Englishwoman, an Englishman and two cats walk into a pub…

Funny old week. So, where were we up to? Ah yes. We came back from the Big Brilliant Train Trip (which was indeed brilliant).

My Beloved was going back to the UK for a wedding – I was meant to be going to a different wedding, elsewhere, realised I couldn’t at the very last minute, and was already miserable at having to cancel and be at neither.

We’d arrived back on the train that morning, and after some lightning laundry and repacking, he went. On his way, he bought our tickets back to the UK.

As in, to live.

This was the beginning of a funny old week. For him, because he’d just bought the tickets, and that was weird, and suddenly he was thrown into the UK to go to this wedding and see the flat we will be living in and meet up with friends and relations and see all the things we will be going back to.

But for me, I just wandered around looking at all the things and people we will be leaving behind.

This made me sad.

But it is not a sad thing we are doing.

We’ve been here over two years now, made some amazing friends, learnt a lot about a part of the world that I would live in again, in a second, if the chance came up.
And in which we could, at a push, if we wanted to, stay. We’re both getting freelance work, have flexible enough visas and it’s not a case of must go back… It’ll just be a lot more lucrative and afford us a lot more possibilites if we work out of the UK instead of the west coast of the USA right now: that’s just the way it is.

So it is sensible, and rational, and logical – all are things I’m not very good at in general, and as I’ve been hinting, it is an idea we’ve been throwing around for months, and really is the best thing to do right now (for now).

I am happy because THINGS will be easier. Banking and accounts, insurance and all of that guff will be easier. Spending time with our very-much-loved family and friends in the UK will be easier. Getting work will be easier, in a way, depending on which of us is doing what. I am looking forward to having weekends away in lovely European places and seeing lovely friends there too. And just seeing THINGS there too. I am looking forward to having certainty about being able to stay where I am, and know what I am doing, and not have to process a lot of plans about if THIS happens then we’ll do THAT, but if THAT’s happening we’ll do THIS, OR this, depending on the result of meetings X, Y and/or Z
I am looking forward to… well, lots of things. There’s plenty of time for that as we go along. That’s what the blog is for, right?

I am sad because I won’t be here anymore. I am sad because I won’t have the smells and the light and the sunshine and the geography and the possibilities and the sense of optimism that I like about being in California. I’m sad, mostly sad, because I’ll miss the family of friends that we have built and met here.

But I can’t be that sad, because I don’t have a ban on coming back here, and I don’t have a limit on how often, either, frankly, so there.

And although these last couple of years have been very difficult, professionally and confidence-wise particularly, for me – and made infinitely more interesting with my Beloved going from fully employed to freelance – I don’t want to dwell on that. Not only because they have been crappy/interesting times for so many of us, and I don’t want to pretend we’re special in this.

But also because without them, I wouldn’t have met the people I’ve met, had the conversations I’ve had, and somehow ended up with some of the most ridiculous and fun work I could imagine, working on a game. Called Glitch (I’m still scared to say that out loud in case someone takes it away from me. But I’m going to have to stop being scared of that some time or other…) And I’m going to continue doing that, on top of some other work things I hope to continue doing, some things I used to do that I hope to get the chance to do again, and some other things I want start doing, once we get back to the UK. It is exciting and interesting. In the good way.

My beloved explains it all in a more rational, professional, manly way here.

So there you have it. We’re going back to live in Brighton – at the beginning of November. FACT.
It is exciting and sad and frustrating and brilliant and daunting and heart-breaking and anxiety-settling all at the same time.

I just thought I should make it a bit clear, for once.

It’s not a bad thing. Or a failure. Or proof that this was all a mistake (by any, any means). It’s a good thing. And a happy thing. And a logical, rational, sensible thing that will help everything be as wonderful as it should be, (or just as it should be) in the end. It is a happy thing.
But that doesn’t mean it’s not also sad.

  1. I am both happy (yay, a chance to finally come visit Brighton!) and sad, because you have become part of Northern California for me and if we ever move there, some part of my brain somehow thought you’d be there, too! But yay! because now on one of those limitless times you come visit Northern California, perhaps we will be there, too!

    Comment by Krissa — 29 September, 2010 8:21 am

  2. Oh let’s none of us pretend that I’m not already scheming to move back here at some point, my love. I’ve found a real home here, and frankly, I see us ending up somewhere on the West Coast – anywhere from here up to Vancouver. But for now, we must move forward by retreating to the motherland, and gathering our money, wits, and troops

    [NB: Homeland security, we are not really planning to invade. Not like that. k thnx bai]

    Comment by anna — 29 September, 2010 8:24 am

  3. It’ll be good to have you back in the UK. Time-difference tweeting can be so awkward :-)

    Comment by Lori Smith — 29 September, 2010 8:25 am

  4. I am happy too! Cos you’ll only be 1000 miles away and not 470000000… And happy for you because of all the good things about going home and you can always go back.

    Comment by Lucy — 29 September, 2010 8:29 am

  5. I am sad because I did not get my arse in gear to come and visit you for San Fran Frolics.

    I am happy because it will be a lot easier to visit you where you are going/coming back to. Also, beer. Also, sausages. And finally, eggs benedict.

    Comment by MissT — 29 September, 2010 8:46 am

  6. Well, MissT, you’ve got a month…

    Oh alright, beer, sausages and eb it is. Also, I will be subjecti… I mean TREATING you to all the american culinary magic I have picked up while over here. Trust me, it is like magic, bacon goes with EVERYTHING.

    ALSO, no plate is complete without a random piece of fruit.

    These are things you will very soon learn after a couple of our dinner parties.

    Comment by anna — 29 September, 2010 8:50 am

  7. It is a happy thing!

    Comment by mike — 29 September, 2010 8:59 am

  8. There’s a bit I wrote for the fall 2009 edition of expatlit.com that I think you can relate to. It’s about leaving, baggage, except the other way around (UK to US):

    As I prepare to leave, I can’t help but feel lost and homeless and empty. I
    should be happy, I should be sad. I can’t seem to fit an entire year of memories
    into two suitcases. I can’t pack up my life here easily.

    Why, and how, do we become attached to places? What difference does
    place make? Of what concern is the angle of the street, or of the light as it comes
    through the windows in the afternoons? What does it matter that this is the
    floor plan, with the bedrooms just here, and the windows this way so that, when
    you sit on this sofa on a cloudy afternoon and you’ve curled up with a cup of tea
    and a book and are napping and it begins to rain, you feel suddenly surrounded
    by the rain on all sides, and you put your book down and just watch it slowly
    come down on the hydrangeas?

    The magpie’s cry will sound the same from the back garden of another
    flat. The wind will simply rustle the leaves of different trees. But I will not be
    here to watch the pigeons swoop over the Tyne when it is lit up at night, or to
    watch the cat on the wall through the kitchen sink window.
    It’s strange to me, despite my twenty-four odd years, despite my own
    sense of practicality, and intelligence, and reason, the things we can and cannot

    Comment by Cassandra — 29 September, 2010 8:59 am

  9. Cassandra – that is so much more beautiful and poetic than anything I could manage.
    But so true.
    Thank you.

    Mike – HURRAY!

    Comment by anna — 29 September, 2010 9:00 am

  10. Congrats/commiserations! It must be a relief to have everything decided after all that umming and ahhing. If only all the nice places in the world weren’t so far apart.

    Comment by Nose in a book — 29 September, 2010 9:05 am

  11. Noseybook: that is it. Right there. It’s just good to know. There has been a lot of uncertainty.
    I don’t need complete security in my life, but knowing which country you’re going to be living in a couple of months down the line is pretty much my baseline, I have decided.

    Comment by anna — 29 September, 2010 9:13 am

  12. I oh so absolutely know how you feel. I made the same decision, leaving SF ten years ago, and like you, felt like it was home, magical, me. It’s such a special place that seeps into your bones, isn’t it? The time I spent there will stay with me forever and I *long* to live there again, but life moves on and things change and change really is good. (Er, I think. I’m now in France!) You never know where you might end up…and you have that, and new adventures to look forward to, with your brilliant beloved. However, I am worried about the cats! What will become of them?!?!

    Comment by Jo — 29 September, 2010 9:14 am

  13. What do you think of us!?!
    We dragged ‘em over here, we’re draggin’em back.

    Most. Expensive. Moggies. EVER.

    Comment by anna — 29 September, 2010 9:17 am

  14. I sympathise, deeply, with your need for “which country am I going to be in?” security. It’s one of the things that really messes with your head being here – I was discussing with newly-arrived Paul last night the fact that, in theory, on an H1-B visa you could wake up one morning to find that you have 2 weeks to pack up your life and leave.

    That said, you and Bobby will be hugely missed here. Hopefully you’ll be back in SF often, and we will do our very best to wend our way Brighton-wards whenever we’re back in Blighty for a visit.

    In the meantime, you have one more month of drinking, eating and other West-coast fun. Now that we’re settled in a new, non-cave-like abode we’ll be sure to make the most of it with you!

    Comment by simon b — 29 September, 2010 10:40 am

  15. Aww – another here who knows all about the twisted happy-sadness of having found the perfect place to live, if it weren’t 5,000 miles away from our primal people. It’s been 3.5 years since we left Seattle – nearly as long as we lived there for – and it’s in my bones every day. But far better to have done it, and found it, than never to have done it at all, right?

    I can’t believe it’s been 2 years since you moved – can so clearly remember your posts about buying stuff in IKEA Bristol for delivery to IKEA SF (as you do…).

    Comment by Sarah — 30 September, 2010 1:28 am

  16. As a hopeless peripatetic you have my sympathy, and congratulations. The really good bit is you seem to have the key to the whole thing which is to explore and rummage around all the corners and bits of wherever you are so you make it your own. V sorry you won’t be managing the Santa Fe/Taos adventure this time around but I will happily offer to send jackalope postcards (local specialty) so you won’t feel you’ve missed anything!

    Comment by Megan — 30 September, 2010 6:28 am

  17. So many places become home and so many friends become family, the older we get and the more sites we alight on…OK, done being profound. Too bad there’s a continent and a big pond in between the two places you enjoy being. Even though there’s a lot of good stuff in there, too (whales, for example, and the Great Plains…).

    Brighton’s very cool, I envy you. My brother-in-law sailed us from Maldon to Brighton one summer evening and night (a gale blew up, my husband got seasick) and so I remember Brighton as a safe harbor…we stayed in a very odd 3-story house my BIL had just inherited…I couldn’t understand why no storekeepers would allow my five-year-old to use their bathroom while we wandered the city. But I did love the pier.

    Good luck, good luck!

    Comment by Christina — 30 September, 2010 6:47 am

  18. Oh, it will be lovely to have you back. But I shall also miss all the descriptions of San Francisco, and the vague sort of half-feeling at the back of my head that if I really really wanted to I could go to SF one day because I have a internet-friend that lives there (even though it was always really-really-really unlikely that I ever would). But it will be great to know you are here again, even though I have only met you twice.

    Comment by Beleaguered Squirrel — 30 September, 2010 1:18 pm

  19. Wah! MUST go for a comically belated drink before you go!

    Comment by Anna (a different one) — 30 September, 2010 4:02 pm

  20. We have to. Shyness be damned, it would be criminal not to. Especially as we live LITERALLY four blocks from one another.

    Comment by anna — 30 September, 2010 4:07 pm

  21. At least you got some bigger travels around here before leaving. Sorry you have to go, but happy you are looking forward to being there.

    Comment by joeinvegas — 1 October, 2010 8:13 am

  22. Minute 6 sub paragraph 5a Seagull Planning Committee of West Sussex:
    She’s coming back! At last the moment we have planned for and written about is upon us. Prepare yourselves colleagues we have much action ahead of us!

    Comment by Hugsie — 3 October, 2010 1:59 am

  23. This is ridiculous. I want the pair of you back. Don’t ask me to explain it but I felt sad when you went away and I will be happy when you’re back. Jesus, screwed up or what. No question mark, I know. But on behalf of the Witney Massive – Cool. Hope the cats make the trip OK.

    Comment by Brennig — 6 October, 2010 2:22 pm

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