There’s been a break in my blogging lately. It’s partly down to my having landed myself a job (a paid one, that is, thank you very much) and partly down to Mr N having landed, too, home from Australia for two weeks so we’ve been busy fitting things in that can or ought only to be done as a couple. [There are lots of these things, incidentally, when you’re part of a family of five that’s not long since moved house and continent, with a country-wide web of friends and family to snatch time with, one offspring reluctantly forced back into his old school at possibly the worst point to do so in the whole of his school career (if you listen to him, anyway), another heading off to university for the first time and a third embarking on her second year away and also moving house and requiring an IKEA shopping trip. And all this on top of a new kitchen to plan, which has come with – for us two, at least – an overwhelming, sense-overloading, rabbit-in-headlights reaction to having to choose door, surface, wall and floor tile materials, styles, colours and sizes which in itself paralysed us for a full 48 hours of our precious 336 together.]
But, perhaps the main reason for the hiatus is this: I’m not a trailing spouse anymore. How, then, can I keep writing a blog which is called ‘Trials of a trailing spouse’?* R, my youngest and perhaps the most innately style conscious member of our family, is concerned on my behalf that it might become boring and irrelevant, and I think he’s got a point. When I was living in Houston, it was easy to find things to write about. In fact, they found me. But now that I’m back home, living the same life as most people, I just don’t have that skewed angle to fall back on. So, yeah, I took R to the dentist to have his chipped front tooth capped and it cost me nowt because he’s under 18 and we have the NHS, but so what? It’s only really worth commenting on in the context of a juxtaposition with the American dental experience which I’m no longer having.
And another thing: loads of the life differences that I’m delighting in are fundamentally mundane; there has been a lot of muscle work for example – shifting furniture from room to room, heaving boxes in and out of the loft, hoofing to and from the dump (at least 19 times, honestly, and still counting), manoeuvring ladders, painting walls inside and out, cutting down trees, mowing the lawns. It’s ordinary stuff that’s out of the ordinary for me because I’ve just left a life where my house wasn’t my own to decorate or remodel or even do the gardening in. For two years I have been uncomfortably watching the fortnightly team of Mexican yard workers sweat it out cutting our grass and chopping back branches (oh, and blowing the leaves from our drive onto next door’s ready to be blown back by their men the following week in that time-honoured, job-creating way of America, land of opportunity and of the free), all part of the rental agreement, non-optional. It’s really, really nice to take ownership again, even though I bloody hate decorating and lugging the lawnmower around.
There’s more. Many hours of my now nearly three months post-Houston period have slowly wafted by in the company of my demented mother, aka Gran, while she chooses to keep her eyes closed. Not exactly page-turning, is it? It has given me the opportunity of reacquainting myself with – and introducing our kids to – the Telegraph cryptic crossword. [I know, I know, the Tory Telegraph – me?! But pre-dementia, dyed-in-the-wool Telegraph-reading Thatcherite Gran was also a daily completer, and super fast too, of said crossword. Clutching at straws, my so far only fractionally successful plan has been to engage her again with anagrams and synonyms, whilst also giving me something to do during the vastly longer pretend-sleep absences that being in her company usually entails.] Somewhat excitingly and slightly out of the usual order of things yesterday, however, I turned up to visit Gran just as a looping, jumbling, dodder of them – mad old ladies and one mad old man – were off to “activities” (some more consciously than others) wherein I got caught up for two hours playing word games, guessing theme tunes, exercising my upper body, singing and chanting, and as an irritating result couldn’t get “Who do you think you are kidding Mr Hitler?”** off the loop in my head for the rest of the day. This is the stuff of life, unromantic, unchosen, repetitive, regressive and often depressing as it is, and it’s part of my little world again whether I like it or not. Of course, it’s called responsibility, and it’s something else I’ve got to re-own. It’s not exactly fun (though it’s often funny, it truly is) but it’s real, physical, shitty life which was quite easy to ignore before. That in itself is newly enjoyable in a visceral kind of way.
It’s not that my life here is dull, or that I haven’t got opinions on England or America or anywhere else anymore, or indeed that I couldn’t go on and on writing about what I do or feel or encounter. No, rather, it’s that my life’s back on the same slant as most of the people I know, which could well be just a bit more dull in the retelling.
So, less, then, is more, is what I’m saying here: the blog’s not necessarily over, it’s just rolling along more slowly.
* Please don’t anyone suggest I change this site, it was really quite tricksy to set up and I think I’ve got this domain name for another three years or something, so no, life’s too short for more of that malarkey.
** The theme tune to 60s/70s TV favourite “Dad’s Army”. All together now, Who do you think…