Things are falling apart. Specifically, British things. The stuff we brought with us, it’s not lasting forever, and I feel irrational surprise each time something we brought with us breaks or wears out. British stuff didn’t last forever in Britain, but it feels worse to see it degrading in the US.
Questions remain over key items we neglected to bring:
- Dining room furniture
These things would have lasted, probably. And we liked them. And yet we left them, because they were big, and they were going to cost a lot to ship, and we didn’t have the mental space to imagine our USA life with this stuff.
As for the things we did bring, some made sense:
- electric toothbrush
- electric shaver
Both of these require an American adapter to plug in, making us look like permanent tourists in our own bathroom.
My electric shaver was on its last legs back in Scotland. It’s worse now, it’s noisier, shaving is an exercise in patience.
This is the shaver I kept at work. I should be glad to toss it, but every quarter I oil the blades, hoping for one more run before the thing finally seizes up or delivers me a shuddering scar.
And some of the things we brought were just sad:
And yeah, this stuff is running out now. I mail our rent check inside a Tesco envelope. And it cheers me, sending something so American in something so British. But I have 3 left. And what am I supposed to do? Buy envelopes?
Rebecca theorizes that I’m suffering from permanency-shock. That replacing our British tat means we’re staying, we’re stuck here whether we like it or not.
But I think it’s just that I’m cheap. I resent the fact that I brought a 9 volt battery all the way to Tennessee only for it to fur up when I need it. Batteries are expensive here. I can’t bear to spend money on such things, and everything needs juice here. (Do they sell wind-up smoke alarms?)
I have a pencil leftover from my Scottish Government days, which says “No point to racism” (not my idea) and I take it to my classes, curious to see if any of the students will prefer it to the American (Made in China) #2 pencils on offer. It’s never chosen. It sits there, blue among the yellow, neglected.
We also brought four clocks.
(This made sense, because they have time here as well. They think they have less time, but really, it’s the same amount.)
The one clock that survived the journey and is thriving, is doing just fine thank you, is the British birds clock, with hourly chimes ranging from the charming blackbird to the frankly terrifying nightingale.
Three of our clocks have broken. We patched one back together, but the other two are hopeless. We took them to a clock repair guy, and he kindly explained that he repaired real clocks, not crappy ones we were keeping for sentimental value.
And perhaps this is the reason time has felt so elastic here, that two years have seemed like a blink, like a decade. I’m not sure what to do with these British scraps but I can’t throw them away.
Maybe Rebecca’s right. Maybe I’m afraid of staying here. Nothing’s standing still, we’re all getting older, all of us, all changing, my language adapts and acquiesces, and I’ll suddenly realize that yes, trunk does make more sense than boot.
We were supposed to bring the best of us along for this American treasure hunt. That was the idea, and I think it happened. But there’s baggage as well, there’s rust and scars, and I’m scared to let it go.
Even my British passport is ready to fall apart. It expires this year, threatening to leave me laughably without papers, if I don’t cough up the $250 renewal fee.
There’s a pair of pottery cats that we kept in our front bay window in Scotland. They made the trip just fine, but it’s been smash after smash since we got here. House moves and high winds leave our long-tailed objets repeatedly in pieces.
They’re sheltering upstairs these days, on the top of the filing cabinet, away from the weather and human interference, and I seek to fill the gaps with Loctite repair putty. I can glue tails back together but they’re still away from home, and that was the plan, but I’m still afraid of doing this forever. And I guess the only trick to this is to live it.