Generally settling is considered something negative. As in, “Yeah we settled on this place.” or “Yeah, so-and-so isn’t as fun anymore, he really settled down.” For me right now, settling couldn’t be more welcomed.
This is our 5th week in Aberdeen. We still do not have furniture. Brett and I are still sleeping on a mattress on the floor. Brooks is sleeping on an air mattress and Mia is in her crib – her bed was the only thing small enough to fit in the air freight when it was broken down. We have no drawers of any sort so clothes are strewn around in piles that seem to grow into each other and end up being washed multiple times because who can remember if they’re clean or not? Our sole TV in the house is propped up on two cardboard boxes. Mia’s extra car seat remains in our living room and she likes to buckle herself into it to watch her daily allotment of Peppa Pig. In sort, things are still chaotic.
Yet, I feel more settled.
Perhaps it has to do with Brooks having his first full week of school. He really enjoys it. He’s pumped to go every day and in a good mood when I pick him up. He’s trying new things in the cafeteria (Brooks: Mom! Let me tell you what I tried today! I had chicken nuggets with thin pieces of cheese on it! But the chicken nuggets had marks on them. Brown marks. But the marks don’t taste like anything. Me: Oh, so you had grilled pieces of chicken with shredded cheese on it?) and said that he’s playing a ton of games in PE that he’s “never even heard of” before. Today is his birthday and also his first field trip. His class is taking a bus to the TechFest Festival. He’s so pumped!
Speaking of his school…I did the dumbest thing this week. Today is Brooks’ birthday. I emailed the teachers last weekend asking what was customary to do for children’s birthdays at school. They wrote back and said to bring some kind of store bought cake or cupcakes. I explained that Brooks can’t eat most of those things due to his allergies and asked if it would be ok if I brought popsicles or something homemade. I saw one of his teachers in person who told me that I could go ahead and do something homemade but that it would need to be for both classes. The whole grade. So about 40 sweets. What was I supposed to say then? No? She had to go to class and walked off and I just stood there with my mouth open like an idiot! I went to ASDA nearly every day this week buying out all of their apple puree baby food to make his applesauce spiced muffins. It took me HOURS to make them all yesterday.
His happiness and the consistent routine of 8:30 drop off and 3:15 pick up make things easier. I have even found myself enjoying those routines which I would have said is so not like me prior to this adventure. We have to park a block or two away from the school, wrestle Mia into her stroller while she’s screaming WALK and make the hike to the back playground. We either collect or drop Brooks off and make our way back to the car. Perhaps it’s the AMAZING weather we’ve been experiencing here lately or perhaps it’s comfortability/reliability of the routine in a sea of continued uncertainty and mild chaos, but I really like walking down the tree lined streets next to the granite terraced homes – some with putting greens in the front yard! It feels so calming, even when we are in a rush. It also feels so surreal. Like, how could this possibly be my life?
My newfound sense of being settled might also have something to do with seeing an old friend and her partner this weekend. For my birthday, Brett surprised me with a ticket to Birmingham (England) to see my friend Jessica and her partner, Danielle. Jessica and I have one of those friendships that don’t need daily maintenance. We pick up right where we left off the last time. There’s never an awkward pause when you have to decide if what you said came off incorrectly or that you were fundamentally misunderstood. Old friends know you. They’ve seen you grow and change and know what your heart said even if your words failed you. They can ask all about your family drama and you can be completely honest without fear of judgement. They will even still be your friend after losing at drunken Monopoly badly. Twice. Old friends have a way of grounding you and reminding you who you were, where you’ve been and understanding who you are now.
Being around an old friend and talking to one nearly daily on the phone has made me think about how much I want people to come visit me. It’s not because of missing people, although I miss friends and family a great deal, it’s because I want to show them this place. Family and friends that were part of the daily fabric of my life back home were able to comment on daily goings on. We could see the same things, experienced the same things, lived in the same time zone. I want friends and family to visit so I feel like they are part of my life still. If they’ve been to the places I’ve been then I get to carry that memory with me when I go again. I can still say, “Remember when…” There’s a shared experience that I can revisit whenever I’d like. Or maybe I need them to see things for acceptance. Maybe I need the people closest to me to see my life here and say, “You did the right thing.” Or maybe I need to see if the peace I feel when walking my son to and from school is due to my surroundings or taking life a little bit slower than I have previously.
Some things for the US vs Scotland score board:
- If something is “dear” it is expensive. Ex. “Oh, these shoes were quite dear!”
- People don’t ask you your name, they ask what you’re called. Ex. “What’s your daughter called?”
- Instead of “How are you?” you say “Are you alright?” This is a bit alarming at first. It’s like, “Why? Do I not look ok?”
- Saying “quid” is like saying bucks. Ex. “Saundra, we are not spending 10 quid on a class of Prosecco! (With today’s exchange rate that would be $12.97 bucks.)
- It is damn difficult to get a bank account here. My next step is to trace my Scottish ancestry back until I can find our family tartan. Not really but you get the point.
- Baking soda is called Bicarbonate of Soda
- Powdered sugar is called Frosting sugar
- Garlic doesn’t come already minced/chopped. You have to do it yourself.
- The strawberries are amazing! I’ve never had strawberries so sweet before in my life.
- Typical coffee pots aren’t really a thing here. You can get them but most people wouldn’t have one. If you find one, they’re called a cafetiere. I purchased a French Press this week so I wouldn’t have to do instant coffee anymore. They’re lovely! I don’t know why I didn’t ever have one in the states!
- Lemonade isn’t lemonade but rather lemon flavored sparking water
- It is takeaway not to-go.
- Chinese, Japanese & Thai food is NOT the same as it is in the states.
- People say “partner” when talking about a significant other. I really love this as it seems to promote more equality instead of just using the term partner when someone is engaged in a non binary relationship.
- You get a separate license for manual or automatic.
- Manual cars are MUCH more popular and MUCH, MUCH cheaper than automatics.
- You say, “Well done!” not “Good job!”
- If something is “rubbish” you put it in the “bin” rather than “trash” in a “trashcan”
Now I’m off to add icing to Brooks’ gluten free, egg free, milk free, nut free birthday cake. I cannot believe that I have a 6 year old!!!