What’s it like moving a whole family this far away for a job? It’s hard in the many ways you’d expect–paperwork, legal stuff, not having any credit that registers here, living out of suitcases for weeks, and, perhaps worst of all, having to entertain a two-year-old in an airport and then during a five-hour flight.
However, we are settling in with greater ease than I had expected. I like it here, for the most part, and tears haven’t been coming as often or as torrentially as I’d worried. It’s nice having some time together as a family, which we’ve had little of for the past two years.
Part 1: Moving, Waiting
First we left the place where we went from a family of four to one of five, and the children went from 3 and 1 to 6, 4, and 2.
Two bedrooms with no outdoor space was feeling pretty cramped.
Then we said goodbye to familiar things, like friends and coffee shops.
It’s possible we have spent too much money on coffee.
It took fifteen days for our things to get from Hamilton to Riverside. We spent the first five of those with my parents, where we amused ourselves as cheaply as possible with as few of our toys as possible.
First test of ability to manage and amuse children was our stop at the US border to tie up some loose ends. One afternoon we all drove down and then sat in the customs waiting room for TWO FULL HOURS without snacks or toys or ANYTHING.
So we (1) watched the glass elevators go up and down for at least forty-five minutes, (2) made up a story about a raccoon in my writing notebook, and, when that bored us, we (3) ran around the decks of chairs and over the ankles of other people waiting and yelped when told to slow down and be quiet.
After all that, finally, and for the kids’ first time, we saw this:
It was a proud moment for me as a parent and Canadian (we got little flags!), and I hope it will be the sort of memory the kids use as an example of what their childhoods were like. (“We made so much of so little! Our mom was so patient and good humoured!). Even if that would be mostly fiction.
We also did this:
2. It Sounds Like Longer in Kilometres
Then it was time for the flight. A car ride to the airport that takes about and hour, then about three hours at the airport, then five hours on the plane added up to a very long day for me. We were fortunate that Juliet only screamed loudly for ten minutes total and that our only other seat mate was a very calm gentleman who did nothing during the flight but eat an enormous Ziploc bag full of sunflower seeds. Later I found out he was a pilot.
It was not easy and I do not relish the idea of doing it again.
3. Los Angeles
Our things weren’t due to arrive for another week and a half, so we spent some of that time having our first vacation in over three years. We stayed in a very pretty house in Northeast LA overlooking a canyon.
4. Riverside, after that Idyll, Rudely Awakens Us to Our Predicament
Riverside is ten degrees (F) hotter than LA. We arrived at our place ten days before our stuff! We didn’t even have–quelle horreur–a way to make or drink coffee in the morning. We had to buy air mattresses, cushions, etc., reasoning that camping out in our rented house was cheaper than staying in a hotel.
What an adventure!
I’m still figuring things out here, obviously. It’s draining not to know where anything is or who is best to ask–all those things you take for granted in a place you’ve called home for as long as we did Hamilton. I have been a little bit snappish at times. I have collapsed in tears so far only three times, which is actually not that out of the ordinary for me. (Should I be worried that there are not enough tears? Is it related to the general lack of torrents and humidity?)
I miss our local library in Hamilton, and I miss my neighbours, and I really, really miss my friends.
A few Riverside highlights:
And this is how blue the skies almost always are: