It’s been 6 months since I was last in the UK and now a total of 16 months since we left on our international adventure (501 days!) and anticipating being back on home territory is really lovely: the thought of reconnecting with family and friends, hearing birdsong and seeing signs of a country spring, good cups of tea and some proper homemade bread makes me feel, um, yes, ‘deliciously' excited in a tickly tummy sort of way. But it also feels odd: I suddenly noticed a stranger’s British accent on the aeroplane with a jolt of surprise, which shows that I have really been immersed in the US environment for long enough for US-ness to seems normal. (Aren’t you ever so slightly impressed? I am!). I’m thinking that being in England now might feel metaphorically like when you come off a sailing boat and you keep internally ‘bobbing’ despite being on terra firma.
It’s going to be a full 10 days, mostly in Kimpton, staying at Well Cottage with my brother and his family, and near my parents, but I’m making a quick trip to visit Auntie Joan in Stroud and spending a day and a night in London with friends. Jem will be back from Berlin (and is doing a couple of local gigs while he is here), Nico will be down from Liverpool too, and Lois is coming up for next weekend. Ah, and Luca has wangled a week of work in London and then a week with his parents in Italy, so it will be a wonderful family time too!
Nice nice nice.
There is an important visit I am making this week. Keep an eye out for the upcoming post on the Alexander Technique: for now suffice to say that for the first time in years I have made some real progress in managing my chronic back pain. I have been participating in AT classes 4 mornings a week since September, which constitutes being a ‘full time’ student. I absolutely did not intend to re-re-retrain in anything when I started lessons in Manhattan (having trained in 2 other professions in the last 10 years which I love, ie choral conducting and spiritual direction), but it has become clear that if I have any hope of living the next half of my life without the severe restriction on activity and lifestyle and the despondency that the pain brings I have to pursue this. So, on Tuesday I am going to one of the London schools for a morning, in the hope that I can transfer there in September. Not the only big change for my future to come out of my US experiences, but a massively important one. Isn't that great?
Ah, so there you have it - can't remember if I have put it in print yet - but we are definitively working towards leaving New York in July. And though the move is months away, our transition towards returning to the UK has kinda already started. It is a bit different for Luca because his work and work colleagues will stay the same wherever he is based, but for me plans have to be made for leaving roles and handing over responsibilities, and I have told my friends so it is not a sudden shock later on. That introduces a tinge of sadness already, but I think it was the right way to go. I am trying really hard to still really be there (whichever ‘there’ it is), but the fact of our going can’t be avoided. Our apartment is being sold by its owners, for example, after we leave, and every Sunday we have to be out when the agent brings potential buyers. I have to plan for a good end for The Song Project rather than forward planning into the autumn (how to celebrate/ go out with a bang?/ is it possible to leave the singers in someone else’s hands?); and Canticum Novum, the super choir that Luca and I both newly sing with, have been told that we are only here for the one concert in May. You get the idea.
Actually another biggie is the new project that I and a spiritual direction (SD) colleague are just launching, which is to create a New York Network of spiritual directors, as a networking/ referring/ support/ interest sharing group. There has never been such a group and in general I believe it is true to say that interdenominational relationships are nonexistent: no one knows what anyone else is doing in other churches (I generalise, you understand, but it is a fair generalisation). Unlike in the UK. We are reaching out to the many Catholic and Episcopal churches in a certain radius around NYC, and with retreat centres, training centres for SD and the one SD organisation that has at least some listings of directors in its membership, Spiritual Directors International. This is going to be a special legacy I leave behind! The strange thing is that I get to do all the envisioning, conceptualising, researching, planning, administrating and all – and organising a first event - just in time to leave it in others’ hands. (Or … well, it would be nice to have reason to go back to visit, wouldn’t it?)
So, this holiday really marks the ‘beginning of the end’. I intend to live the last few months as FULLY as I can and we have trips planned out of town and guests coming and some shows to see and a gala dinner to la-di-da our way to: I get to wear that posh frock that I packed 16 months ago at least the once, hooray!
Enough. Right now I am contentedly both a New Yorker and a Brit and I want to really be present wherever I am on any day called today.