Sunday, November 21, 2010

The End is Near

Holy smokes. We're down to six weeks.

In approximately six weeks, we'll be exchanging pounds for dollars and boarding a plane from London to the east coast of America. It's startling to realize how quickly the end is approaching, even though I've been preparing for it almost since the beginning.

I remember driving through the Thetford Forest the second year I was here thinking, "Some day I'm going to miss all this."

Some day is almost here. And as predicted, I know I will miss it all.

I'll miss the fall colors changing in the forest.
I'll miss being able to take the train just about anywhere on this island.
I'll miss the castles and cathedrals.
I'll miss pretending to be Elizabeth Bennett anytime I walked into a Regency era house.
Shoot, I'll even miss those rock-strewn English beaches that almost never seem to have any sun hanging about.
I'll miss English friends who can brew a proper, good cuppa.
I'll miss the adorable accents on my neighbor kids.
I'll miss Tesco like it's an old friend...and old friend who provided me with interesting flavors of chips and unique types of sweets and very reasonably priced, cute clothes.
I'll miss Norfolk Lavender Farm.
I'll miss LaHogue, a really cool local farm shop that recently introduced me to Breckland Orchard, a really awesome local soft drink producer.
I'll miss downtown Thetford, which has always been a great place to walk the dogs, entertain my kid, grab an ice cream cone or a piece of cake, feed the ducks, and just generally enjoy the hum of English life.
I'll miss greasy fish and chips and greasy kabob take out shops.
I'll miss the many Indian and the sole Thai take away joints in town that regularly delivered to our house on Friday nights.
I'll miss my job, which is been probably the most pleasant surprise in this journey.
I'll miss my military spouse friends, who have been my extended family and solid support being so far from my home.

I'll miss our base, which is truly the first base I've really felt a part of. Sometimes you get super lucky and hit the jackpot in an assignment. And you know what, kids? Mildenhall is the jackpot.

I know a lot of Americans come over here expecting England to be Little America. When it isn't, it's easy to get disappointed and frustrated. And no kidding, moving overseas (even to a country where they speak the same language and have McDonalds and Friends on reruns all the time) is hard. Don't let anyone tell you it isn't.

But if you get stuck in the mentality of mourning America and miss out on the amazing opportunity of living in England and getting stationed at a base with such a cool mission and really great leadership, than you've got no one to blame but yourself when you are miserable. Nobody can make you see how incredible this chance to be here is but yourself. So if you're new (or not-so-new) to England and still find yourself hating it, I'd encourage to you a.) open your eyes, and b.) get out and experience English life for all it's worth.

The next six weeks will be stressful. There's the usual holiday stress of parties holiday shopping. And we're adding to it the stress of preparing to move, packing up, out processing, and living in a hotel over the holidays. In my own mind, I'm also adding the stress of leaving what has turned out to be one of the best assignments of my military dependent life.

Of course, there is the silver lining of returning back to the States: being closer to family and friends, and the ubiquetous food and shopping options. It's not all doom and gloom, surely. But in spite of the rewards on the other side of the ocean, I can't help but begin to mourn a little for the loss of England.

I just have to remind myself not to get so caught up in the stress and sadness that I forget to actually enjoy my last weeks here.

So here's to you, England, you beautiful, overcast country! I'm gonna miss you, old gal!

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