So you think you want to move to America? Part 1

Published December 11, 2013 by Ellie

There is no sensible place to start telling you about the process of moving from England to America. There was a long process where we considered the move, the pros and cons, before we even decided that it was something we would quite like to do, I’m guessing you’ve done this too, if you’re here.

How about I tell you about the day we moved? I’ve touched on it previously

We woke up that Wednesday morning, my husband, our two daughters and I, on the floor, having slept on our duvets, with blankets over us. This is because the day before we had given away our beds to friends and neighbours. I don’t remember if we had breakfast, but it sounds like the sort of thing we’d do. Our kitchen was pretty much bare, because I’d given away all our food to friends and neighbours, but we probably had a box of cereal. Obviously our bowls were washed, ready to be packed.

We wore the same clothes as the day before, partly because we had to for continuity (we were being filmed for a documentary, just to add to the fucking surreal nature of the day, which is so freaking bizarre I’m not even going into it right now), and partly because our regular clothes were packed in our suitcases, while our fancy clothes, out of season stuff, and my skinny wardrobe, were waiting to be packed up by the removal guys. Clean knickers though, because of course.

Our animals had been collected the day by the incredibly wonderful Airpets, who were so patient, and took time to answer all my million borderline insane pet-mummy questions (turns out they DON’T get to choose their inflight movie) and carefully noted every requirement I insisted on (they drew the line at letting them watch TV to calm them down). I wouldn’t see them again until I collected them from JFK airport in 3 days time.

We took the girls to school, because we figured that would be more fun than staying home. Then the removal men arrived at about 9am, which catalyzed an insane whirlwind of packing, arguing, panicking, Subway-run, sneaky manicure (please don’t judge, I am truly certifiable), pacifying, more panicking, more packing, phonecalls, farewells, shooing well-wishers, taking advantage of anyone who had politely offered help, and even more chaos than I can remember, having blocked it out. We picked up the girls from school at some point, trying to keep the tearful goodbyes to a minimum, reluctantly.

8pm rolled around and we pretty much had an empty house and a full removal lorry. If we hadn’t had a film crew following us about and making random demands (“could you walk back down the stairs again so we can get it from another angle?”), the removal men said it would have been finished by lunchtime.

We’d sold our beloved old car a few days before (Honda Accord, burgundy, bless your lovely reliable self) so my long-suffering and eternally life-saving bestest friend drove us to the hotel we had booked near Heathrow airport, which was much easier once I found the right address. I cried most of the way, and cried through check-in, which earned my husband some curious looks from the hotel staff. I calmed down once we sat down for a very late dinner, the beer helped. Back in our tiny room, we opened and drank the last of the booze we packed from home (half a bottle of mead, wine we bought on holiday in Crete 4 years before, and a smidge of rum), not giving or throwing that away! And it meant we slept very well!

The airport and plane journey was pretty standard, no surprises, except for having the knowledge that it was a one way trip (but always book a return, then cancel the return flight once you arrive, for some reason a return trip is way cheaper than a one way trip) which kept making me giggle hysterically when I remembered.

We picked up our hire car in New York and drove to a house we had never seen before, arriving about 9pm, which was 2am for us.

The house was nice, but totally empty, and we had nothing but the contents of our suitcases. It was the 17th of November and below freezing, and we had no idea how the heating worked, or which one of the big things in the basement was a boiler, or how to start it up. So we laid out the tiny air mattresses we brought in one of the upstairs rooms, slept in our clothes, and had the rest of the contents of our suitcases spread over the top of us. But it was a very long, cold, exhausting night, and I found out just how distressing it is to be woken up in the night by your children crying because they are so cold.

The next day revolved around Walmart, and trying to fill an empty house, as our stuff from the UK wouldn’t arrive for 3 months…

And so ends part one of my tales of moving to America. Oh the glamour! In future instalments I’ll talk about the ridiculous immigration requirements and hoops we had to jump though, the fun of arriving in a new country with no credit rating, and the joys of discovering that there actually is a language barrier… I’ll try to make it funnier too, I really struggled to add humour to the most hideous day of my life that I barely remember…

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