As our final days in England draw closer, I find myself grasping at any tangible item I feel will give me a connection to our time here. It's strange to think soon England will be a memory and not my daily life. So as I pass something I want to remember, I pull out my camera or my debit card and make sure I have a piece of it to take with me. It's as if I'm desperately trying to stuff every last memento and memory into a mental suitcase so I can pull them out later when I'm homesick for England.
That was why purchasing this silver plated tea service from one of our local antique dealers felt terribly important. When else will I have a chance to purchase an authentic English tea service from the 1860s? I needed to have something physical, something I could reach out and grab to help me remember the importance of a nice cuppa tea.
It's also why I purchased a silly little hair clip covered in feathers today while wandering through Bury St Edmunds in search of good Boxing Day sales. One of my English coworkers had a lovely little feathery hair clip during our Christmas party that I adored, and she advised me that I must not leave England without a bit a plumage! I'm not sure she would have envisioned this hot pink piece of fluff, but by golly I love it! I have no idea what I'll where it with or what occasion will justify a bit of plumage, but when duty calls, I'll be prepared!
It's why I was thrilled when my friend Robin gave me this gorgeously tacky mug commemorating the engagement of Prince William to Kate Middleton. Are you kidding me?! This thing is beautifully ugly, and I can't wait to drink tea out of it and remember all the media hype from their engagement.
It's also why I took this picture of a hedge in a little town called Flempton, which lies on the A1101 between RAF Mildenhall and Bury St Edmunds. A proud part of my military heritage comes from the fact that my mom and dad were actually stationed at RAF Lakenheath and lived in Mildenhall village when I was born. I had a blast taking mom and dad around when they came to visit to see what they would remember. And this hedge is something they remembered well because they flipped their VW bug (I beleive) into these hedges on a slippery day many years back (pre-Kelly.)
It's also why I took a picture of our bizarre laundry set up in our house. For some reason, even though it was a brand new house, the builders chose not to include a way to vent a dryer. Most of our neighbors opted to put their dryers out in the garages, and some of the locals bought condenser dryers, which are quite frankly hard to explain. We vented our dryer out the kitchen window every week. Beleive me, it's as big a pain in the butt as you'd think.
It's also why I grabbed this picture advocating dualing the A-11. There is a stretch of the A-11 that's nearly ten miles long which is a single carriage way (one lane each direction.) It's a dual carriage way (two lanes in each direction) on every other part of the A-11, but for some reason it's taken ages to get this stretch taken care of, and the congestion it causes can be insane, particularly on a Friday night.
On the one hand, I'm glad to be letting go of the laundry set up and traffic drama. On the other hand, they were instrumental in shaping our experiences here, so I don't want to forget them all together. As much as I want to hold on to the great memories, I also want to remember the things that made life in England a little challenging at times.
Because I hope in doing so, it will help to ground my memories of England. I want to hold on to them to remind myself life in England wasn't all tea and castles. As most people do, I have a tendency to reminisce on the past through rose colored glasses. As lovely as it will be to remember the great experiences I've had, it's as much a part of my history to remember the ways in which it was difficult to adjust to life in England--the things that reminded us that no matter how much we loved shopping off base or exploring the local area, we are still irrevocably and fundamentally American.
So I'm putting all my little bits and bobs into my mental suitcase. The good, the bad, and the ugly mug. The time for reminiscing is just about done. It's now time to look forward to the next big adventure and all the challenges and excitement that will bring. I need to put these things away to truly be able to focus on what's on the horizon and to enjoy becoming reaquainted with the things we've missed about living in the States.
But it's nice to know that when I need it, my little mental suitcase is ready to be unpacked and incorperated in small ways into the next chapter of our lives.