Two big beefy guys showed up last Thursday at 9ish. They came in, looked around, and started slinging things in massive boxes. A friend came and took the girls to the park for a bit, which was a relief as I became quite nervous that one of them would accidentally end up in a box labeled “Children” or something. By two our shipment was gone and the Great Scrubbing had begun. A dear friend came and started cleaning at one end of the flat and I started moving around in a vague sort of blur at the other. We transferred the children and our suitcases to her house at children’s tea time and after they were in bed Alex and I returned to finish it off.
There were lots of bloopers: our spur-of-the-moment decision to send the travel cot in the shipment meant Hugh had nowhere to sleep until we dug one up to borrow. As we were leaving the flat at the last I suddenly realized that, despite five hours spent in the kitchen, I had completely forgotten about the refrigerator. I forgot to send the shoe brush and laundry bags from the cleaning closet in the shipment and apparently sent the toothbrushes. Or so we thought–until Alex found them once we arrived in America. And no, as it happened, I did not brush my teeth from Wednesday night to Saturday morning. Helloooooooo Motherland.
Not only did we have to camouflage nail holes and clean everything, we also had to unpack, clean, and replace in every drawer and cupboard the flat’s belongings–filling thirteen boxes in the garage during our tenancy. I am glad to say we passed inspection with flying colors, the lease agent reportedly stating that I have a future in scrubbing flats and to let them know if I ever start a business. The Things You Wish You Knew Before You Went To College.
Friday evening we flew from Heathrow. Just us, three kids, one Goat, three suitcases, two bags, three backpacks, a camera, a car seat, and a double buggy. We’ve grown a bit since that first crossing three years ago with one little toddly girl (and a Goat). I remember that trip I inadvertently brought Norah’s body weight in snacks for her. This time I brought the girls each one apple and a box of raisins.
The flight was good. We were not granted a baby bassinet so Hugh had to be held the whole trip but no one suddenly exhibited symptoms of intestinal flu. There was one moment when, sitting motionless in the dark between two slumbering-at-last girls, I uncapped a pen to fill out the customs forms for arrival and black permanent ink gushed out everywhere. I wondered, Is this the low point or is there one coming? (It was not the low point.) It was somewhere around three a.m. in Oxford when we arrived in Boston.
Deplaning and baggage and customs and stumbling through the doors to see the lovely face of Alex’s mother. Beside her was Alex’s aunt, waving an American flag and shouting, “Welcome home! You made it!”