Lonesome town

When I was 4, my parents moved from the gleaming spires of Oxford to the, um, to…well, Bristol.

Brizzle is the shizzle!

When I was 6, I found myself as the only girl in my school year, so the decision was made to follow my very bestest friend from the village primary to the local catholic school, adjusting from the teachings of Mrs Cummings to those of Sister Agnes at the Sacred Heart.

Get thee to a nunnery!

When I was 11, I graduated to an all-girls private school, a 1 hour commute from home, and then, at 16, I moved back to the local comprehensive, literally next door to mum and dad’s house.  Two years later, I left home for the flat plains and cheap beers of Norwich to start my biology degree at the University of East Anglia – 240 miles away.

I’m not Alan Partridge, incidentally.

Without meaning to sound like an episode of “This is Your Life”, I’m going to continue with the geography of my past.  So…in 1998, I spent an amazing year at beautiful Lund University, Sweden, as part of my degree.

Hejsan!

In ’98, back I flew to Naaaaarch, to find myself in the “International Students” halls of residence, after my friends and peers, who hadn’t chosen a year abroad, graduated and moved on with their exciting new lives.

Post-graduation, I moved to tacky, pebbly, beautiful, bohemian Brighton, to start my career in Clinical Research.  2 years after that, following a 4-month stint in dirty ole’ London, I decided that I was far too young to settle down, and upped sticks to Sydney, Australia!    Itchy feet?  Oh yes, I practically have chicken pox on my soles!

Hellooooo, you stunning, wonderful, fabulous city, you!

I’m nearly there, I promise!

So yes, three and a half years after arriving in the Land Down Under, I met my husband…and 6 months later we were on a plane back the UK.   I was 29 years old, and that was the 11th big move of my life.

I’m well aware that military families have many more stamps on their passports; that the children of soldiers, pilots and oil tycoons have far more exciting tales to tell and challenges to face.

My point, in my usual rambling way, was merely that you would have thought, after all this “experience”, that I would have this relocation thing down pat.  That I would be a pro at making new friends, discovering social groups and exploring unfamiliar cities.

You’d think.

Well, I thought so, at least.

But, you know?  This life, this family, these little people…they make things a little trickier:

Double trouble!

I can’t go to the bar, to drink beer and loosen the ole tongue (and inhibitions) with these guys in tow.   My visa states that I can’t go to work and make chit-chat over the water cooler with potential pals.   With my husband working late most nights, and my children up at the crack of dawn, I can’t even attempt to bond with the Crossfit Crazies.

Much as I adore my two perfect Pepperlings, and much as I love Seattle, the Dream House and all that wonderful Washington has to offer, I think it’s time that I admit the truth.   It’s bloody lonely sometimes!

They say that it takes 2 years before a place starts to feel like “home”.   So.  One down, one to go.   Looking at the photo below, I know it feels like just yesterday.  So here’s hoping that 10/10/13 feels like, well….tomorrow.  And, like home!

Exactly one year ago today – Evie at Marymoor, 10/10/12!

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12 Responses to Lonesome town

  1. Catherine says:

    Moving to another country IS lonely, I really think it does take a couple of years to feel at home.
    Let’s go sit in silence at the movies on Saturday!

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    • Kerstin Pepper says:

      Yep. A couple of years is nothing in the grand scheme of things, but when you’re living day to day, and trying to force yourself to entertain a 2 year old when you’ve not slept for 5 months….it seems like a *veeeeery* long time!!

      Sitting in silence at the movies sounds great. 🙂

      x

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  2. Aimee says:

    Awww again I know how you feel albeit not in another country although it feels like it sometimes! You won’t like this bit but I’ve been in Brighton 5 years now and doesn’t feel like home. Depressingly enough, when I go back to Brum that doesn’t feel right either! It’s very sad – I’m trying to get past it as Brighton IS a million times a better place to live and bring up H but it’s hard. I have met some nice girls thru the baby group though so I am hoping that bridges the gap somewhat Xxxxx

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    • Kerstin Pepper says:

      The question is, is the Brighton accent or the Brummy accent a better fit for your darling daughter? There’s nothing for it, Aimee, you’re going to have to start saving and enroll her in Roedean!

      I remember I felt lonely with Evie too, until she got a bit bigger, and we could go to more “fun” mum and baby groups (like swimming, baby massage, baby gym etc) – when she was very small, I got really tired of sitting in circles, drinking tea while listening to women whinging about their husbands. Yawn! So yep, I’m sure you’ll get there in the end – I met some fab people eventually. I think swimming was the best for us, but I know that there are some great playgroups out there too.

      xxxx

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      • Aimee says:

        Heh heh!! Actually the baby group I go to is pretty good and the women are really nice. I went to another before H was born and that was very cliquey and frightfully frightfully Hove Actually so I know what you mean! I think as H is a true Brightonian, I can’t inflict the Brummie accent on her! ;0). And Roedean is definitely my first choice for H if we win the lottery!! Xxxxxx

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  3. Charlie Pitts says:

    I know you already know this but the best way for you to meet new people now is through the children. From your previous blogs I know you’re doing all this anyway, but get yourself to as many mum and baby/toddler groups as you can. Let the kids loose, get yourself caffeined up and barge your way into some conversations…think how you would feel if you were talking to a friend and some slightly nervous mother with a funny accent joined in the conversation…you would welcome her in. That’s exactly what will happen for you. I get the sense from your blogs that you are overthinking things way way too much…the difficulties breastfeeding, the Americanisms, generally fitting in…..look at it as if you were with a friend in Brighton and a bottle-feeding American mother wanted to join in…then you’ll see that if you regain some of your old confidence you will be able to get your social life back on track. Speaking from someone who has known you sober (as well as mildly tipsy!) you are excellent company, regardless of the level of alcohol in your system….all you need to do is come up with that excrutiating first sentence and then there’ll be no stopping you. Good luck and stop being so hard on yourself! xx

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    • Kerstin Pepper says:

      Thanks Charlie!! I’m not sure it’s a case of being hard on myself, I’m just trying to articulate the difficulties along the way, rather than being too “na na, we moved to America, isn’t it awesome!!”. And yep, I’ve joined a few “Moms” meetup groups, and I’ve met some lovely people (though it’s a bit like internet dating, isn’t it…you meet some lovely people, and you meet some people you have absolutely *nothing* in common with, apart from the kids), but I think this is where the 2 year thing comes in – it takes a while before the people you meet stop being just faces you recognise and names you remember, to becoming actual friends that you can call when you’re bored / lonely / just need a chat with an actual adult!

      I know we’ll get there in the end, it’s just that until we do, it feels like quite a hard slog sometimes!!

      xxxx

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  4. Jill says:

    I must say, aside from the difficulty of moving to a new city – or country in your case – Seattle is a particularly difficult place to find sincere friends. It’s true, with kids you do have that HUGE advantage of a common denominator. Even so though, as far as people in cities across the states go, Seattlites have a strange way of passively excluding people that aren’t already in “the clic.” It sounds crazy, but it really is true; this is not an easy city to make friends in. (Trust me, I’ve lived all over the USA) I found it took 2-3 years to really find my niche here, and when I did make friends they were the most wonderful people. So, I guess I’m saying take advantage of the groups and meet-ups, but don’t get sore if you find that not every mom and dad are welcoming you into their circle with open arms….it’s strange, but it’s just how lots of people are out here. This also makes it easy to find the treasured friends you really click with though, because you’ll both reach out to each other. In the meantime Seattle…well, the Puget Sound Area and Pacific North West in general have sooooooo many amazing places to visit and explore. Go out and adventure with your tots! Take a day and try to count how many totem poles you can find, or how many random pieces of art you see while walking around your neighborhood. You could even take a drive down to Alki in West Seattle and turn over the rocks to find baby crabs, there are so many beautiful details to discover here!!! You sound like an outgoing and wonderful person, so hang in there!

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    • Kerstin Pepper says:

      Thank you so much for the words of encouragement, Jill – it means a lot, coming from someone who has “been there, done that”!!

      I’ll definitely take your advice on board…I guess the key is to keep busy to avoid letting any loneliness set in (and you’re right, it is a most beautiful part of the world for exploring). So we started by spending the day at Remlinger Farms today, it was wonderful!

      I’ll now add Alki Beach to the hit list, thanks again.

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  5. anita says:

    I feel for you Kerst. Takes me back to when I moved here. I feel like I had to go through it twice really, without even moving. Of course, when I came here I had no boyfreind, no family and no kids, so nothing holding me back at all, and I made some amazing freinds really quickly. Sadly, none were indiginous to Montreal, and one year, they all independently left for different parts of the world, for their own various reasons. I think that was my lowest point in Montreal. Yeah, I had other friends, but these were really my nearest and dearest, that I’d hoped we would be hanging out together and raising our own families together one day. Sadly, it was not to be, and whilst I did have other great friends, it wasn’t too long before I got married and had kids, reaching a stage that few of my other mates here were at. I have to say that the up side was the kids as it opened up a whole new network of people to meet, and whilst it does take some time to meet the ones you really mesh with, I’m sure it’ll happen. Having said that, a large portion of my fave “mom freinds” are ex-pats from the UK too, so possibly not quite mingling with the locals as much as I’d intended, but there’s a good mix. I guess you just can’t take the Brit out of the girl…….

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  6. Roisin says:

    Well you know if you ever fancy mine and the boys company all you have to do is ask (and pay for our flights etc) and we’ll be right there 😉 xxx

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  7. Pingback: Meeting and greeting | The Peppers head Stateside!

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