Down the street, or across the world– it is exhausting.
On Monday we arrived in Los Angeles, California. We are officially resident Angeleños. To say the City of Angels is a contrasting setting to our last seven years in the tranquil Hampshire countryside is an understatement.
I am not going to lie to you, we are in culture shock. We are fish out of water. Deer in the headlights. The new kids on the block.
Where a tractor loaded with hay momentarily slowed down our morning commute last week in Hampshire, today we drove eight miles along Santa Monica Blvd in 45-minutes.
With the assumption that we will be living in a condominium or apartment during our tenure in Los Angeles, we sorted through all our belongings before the movers boxed up the cottage. It was tedious and took several weeks. We are not hoarders. And yet, even with annual spring cleanings– we had a ton of crap.
Do we take the baby changing station in case, one day, there is a second child? Are mud stained Wellington boots really needed for the annual rain shower in southern California? Hotel soaps and shampoos, are we opening a bed and breakfast?
Not wishing to wake thirty years from now to the same tired wardrobe and faded leather couch, we trashed, sold, and gave away. It was a fairly straightforward exercise. The hardest part of the move was walking away from the things we could not carry, and did not want to throw away.
I could not take an imprint of Ouisie’s baby-oiled footprints from the bedroom wall next to the changing table. We could not uproot the apple tree which she loved to climb, and we gathered its fruit to make chutney and tartines. And so, we carved the letter “E” in its trunk laying claim to it. In the end, I could not bring myself to wash off the penciled growth chart I had made on the conservatory wall documenting Ouisie’s first three years.
With the house emptied of all our belongings, I walked through each room and recounted special moments we had shared as a family. Holidays, birthdays, celebrations with friends, rainy day indoor games. There was not a box big enough for our beloved trees, vast fields, or the sleepy lane.
One week before the movers arrived my friend and photographer, Philippa Gedge journeyed out from London to capture a day in our lives at the cottage. I wanted a lasting keepsake of Ouisie’s first home. I am so glad we did.
In time, her vivid memories of England will fade. But unlike a warn cushion or tired pillow, there are aspects from her first three years I am certain have left a lasting impression. And through the photographs, this blog and home videos, I will continue to retell stories of her birthplace.
The cattle came through the back fields on the day we exchanged keys. None of us wished to bid them au revoir. We did not say goodbye to our friends or England. Simply, a bientôt. We will return.
The mooing cows are now honking car horns. And so begins our new chapter. We invite you to join us, and share in our new adventure.
Callie in Cali … that has a nice ring to it.