5 November 2015

minding the gap

mindthegap

we have now been in london over three months – a quarter of a year – one hundred days full of the highs and lows of a huge transition.

we’ve really spent the last three months minding the gap – not just between the train and the platform in the london underground, but also between:
-our expectations and our experiences
-our geographic location and the geographic location of our family and friends
-being together all the time before our move and being apart the vast majority of the time currently
-our move into our flat and the much later arrival of our boxes and furniture
-familiarity and foreignness
-the american suburban life and the english urban life
-the cost of things as we were used to them and the expense of living in london
-the joys of a previous life and the joys of a brand new one!

it’s been a wild, challenging and awesome ride. and i can see really beautiful vistas ahead!
when i was growing up, my dad would often ask us kids what our “happys” and “sads” were at a given time, to learn about the things our hearts were enjoying and struggling with (in fact, he still asks me that question with some frequency!). the boy and i have adopted this concept into a weekly planning session we do each sunday – we always start by sharing our “high” and “low” from the week.

today i made a list of the highs and lows of the past three months, as we’ve been minding the gap.

some lows
(note: i’m not complaining and i realize my life is super awesome and blessed – and some of these lows are kind of silly! but there are lows – that’s real.)
  • my day-to-day life can get quite lonely. the time it has taken to develop friendships in london has been longer than expected, and since i work from home most of the time, there can be days when i don’t interact with another human for loooong stretches of time. i’m honing my ability to be alone, but not lonely.
  • connected to the above: the boy is having to put in some pretty long hours at work. luckily he is on a team that has an abnormally healthy work-life balance (compared to other teams at the company), but since the learning curve is steep right now, he’s pulling mostly twelve hour days.
  • the time difference is pretty tricky when it comes to connecting with friends and family back home in the usa.
  • plugging things in is a challenge – haha! we had to buy an expensive and large voltage converter in order to run some of our more heavy-duty appliances, and the lack of outlets in the bathroom is a foreign concept :)
  • i just kind of miss being able to get in my car and drive to target. we love not having a car, but it requires some adjustment to the way we used to do things! and i’m still learning where to go to buy pillowcases or toilet bowl cleaner or specific medicines or homewares that are my style. (seriously, target is the best!)
  • it has been mindboggling to furnish our flat! last weekend we rented a car to go to ikea for some basics, but there are just soooo many options for rugs and armchairs and storage cabinets and etc. i am horrible at making these kinds of decisions! and the dimensions of our super small rooms make it tricky to know where to put things. with the very late (and incomplete) arrival of our boxes and few pieces of furniture, it has felt like such a long haul to get settled in. buuuuut, we are getting pretty close!
  • the festivity of halloween and of the autumn season in general, is much less potent here in england! aaaaaand, without the buffer of thanksgiving, christmas decorations are already going up (i am sooo conflicted about whether that little fact belongs in this lows list or in the highs list)! we did carve some really small pumpkins one night for fhe, but i’ve missed the cinnamony, apple-cider-and-donuty feeling of fall.
  • there’s no black beans or salsa verde or mac&cheese or frozen fruit for smoothies at the grocery store. and the unfamiliar drugstore brands make shopping for cold medicine or other needed remedies a little bit more complicated. 
  • i am completely overwhelmed by all the things there are to do and see and eat and experience while we live here! (i know, tough life.)
  • it has taken some adjustment to understand the sometimes really different systems for tasks like paying utility bills or balancing a bank account.
<<okay, uggh, kind of glad to be done with that lows list. after every point i wanted to add a but!! this related thing is awesome or but!! it’s such an adventure!>>

and so many highs!

  • living in london really is so so fun and dreamy and exciting and fantastic. the energy of the city is in our bones and makes us happy every single day. there are so, so many interesting and diverse people and so, so much to explore. we also both really love the weather! everyone says we are crazy for moving here from perfectly sunny california, but we actually adore the dynamics of the gray sky and frequent rain and glorious sunshiney days.
  • there are sooooo many excellent food choices! plentiful delicious sugar-free granola! halloumi cheese on so many menu items! a dozen quick, healthy chain cafes! a dizzying array of restaurants to try! ethnic cuisine of every variety! super fresh produce! new snacks and treats that have become part of our routine! so many exclamation marks!
  • the heated towel rack in our bathroom.
  • the boy really, really loves his job.
  • my work is extremely flexible and i feel that i am learning and contributing quite a bit.
  • there are so many opportunities to see amazing places in europe. our flight to switzerland (where we will start a christmas-markets-road-trip across germany) in december was seven pounds. yes, like eleven and a half dollars.
  • our ward (church congregation) is absolutely fantastic, made up of faithful and inspiring people from all over the world. we teach the 8-11 year olds in primary. we had talked before we even got married and then continually about how teaching primary together would be our dream calling – so we cashed in! especially because the kids in our class are so fun and wonderful and we already love them so dearly.
  • the location of our flat is pretty outrageously awesome. it is so central and we both walk to work. i can’t get over that trafalgar square is around the corner and that we can stroll to the banks of the thames overlooking the london eye and big ben in about four minutes. i also love that there’s several restaurants just downstairs and a traditional english bakery across the street. i can walk to the grocery store or the pharmacy or h&m in seconds and we have really quick and easy access to five different tube lines. our street is pretty quiet, but the neighborhood is super lively. about every third day i send the boy a text that says: i looooove living here!!!
  • my two most regular running routes are pretty epic: through trafalgar square and st. james’s park to buckingham palace/though green park and then through mayfair to picadilly circuis/through leichester square back home! …or… over the strand and down to the river, then across the golden jubilee bridge/along south bank past the london eye and westminster bridge/fully around big ben and the houses of parliament on both sides of the thames/up whitehall and through trafalgar square back home! i recently joined a nearby gym and i love being able to go workout there, but with those running routes i sometimes need to stay outside!
so yeah, although there certainly have been challenges, minding the gaps in our current life is pretty great all in all.

{amazing papercut art by julene}

40 comments :

  1. I don't think it is just England. Thanksgiving has been pretty much overlooked in the US too! I mean, it is still 3 weeks of beautiful fall colors and thanksgiviny things to do but I went to 4 stores yesterday (including Target) for some fall garland and it was all gone! So sad

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  2. I don't think it is just England. Thanksgiving has been pretty much overlooked in the US too! I mean, it is still 3 weeks of beautiful fall colors and thanksgiviny things to do but I went to 4 stores yesterday (including Target) for some fall garland and it was all gone! So sad

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    1. thanksgiving is only an american thing. it would be kind of weird if it was in England since the pilgrims...came from England. :)

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  3. Sainsbury's sells black beans with more reliability than any other supermarket chain but even they are hit and miss. They only stock them as an organic brand (why?!) so they might be hiding with them? http://www.sainsburys.co.uk/shop/gb/groceries/pulses-beans/sainsburys-so-organic-black-beans-carton-380g
    The best place I've found them is in the corner shops, oddly. Do you do online grocery shopping? Tesco online has them without fail despite their actual physical shops never ever selling them. If you want to do online shopping I highly recommend their delivery saver thing. You pay £6 a month and then get as many deliveries as you like. If you live up flights of stairs and have no car like me (and you!) they are a life saver. And no, I don't work for them or anything.

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  4. I periodically pop over and read your blog (big fan of you sis, 71toes) but I couldn't resist commenting when you mentioned Christmas markets!!! I used to live in Stuttgart so I'm a little biased to think their's is amazing. Also, I really hope you have a medieval Christmas market on your list!!! The one in Esslingen is fantastic! I miss Germany so much during Christmas mainly because of their Christmas markets!! Enjoy your trip. I'll definitely be coming back more to see pics of that trip! :)

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  5. I'm renovating an apartment in NYC and feeling regret for not putting in a heated towel rack! I love those!!!

    London is amazing. I love reading these updates; how fun. Also, I second what the other commenters said about Thanksgiving. Literally on October 1st stores here cleared out of their Halloween stuff and put the Christmas stuff in! It's crazy! I love fall too - it's been like 70 degrees every day here which is very un-fall-like weather, and it's weird!

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  6. You can buy frozen fruit, salsa and black beans, promise! I have all that in my kitchen. It just may be your local supermarket that is lacking them. Have you tried an online shop with Ocado or Tescos or Sainsburys, you can check and get a van full sent round ;)

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  7. Cute post. On 2 occasions I lived in Tanzania for a month (way less that your real move) and I remember those sorts of feelings. Even when things are exciting and wonderful, there are some days when you just miss the familiar and easy. Did you mean that dreadful boxed Kraft mac 'n cheese? hahahaha

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  8. Finding similar medicine can be a bit rough. Boots typically has the biggest selection but it's not quite the same as hopping over to Target. We would have family send over the Mexican ingredients green enchilada sauce, salsa, etc. and oreos :) For big events like birthdays, we would splurge on fruit loops and root beer. I miss living in the UK pretty much everyday and haven't stop searching for a way back. I love that place with all my heart and know how challenging it can be initially. You can do it!

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  9. I've never lived abroad, however I really empathize with your struggles Charity. Keep working at it; you will eventually create your new normal. You are blessed with a caring family who are there for you, even though you're (literally) an ocean apart.
    You're also incredibly brave for sharing your struggles here. Thank you for opening up your heart to us.

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  10. Didn't you live in England over a year before? Getting around sure would be different but missing American products would be like before. Or are you speaking of your husband?

    You might find routine easier once you are there with no interruption for 2 months?

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  11. I'm sure they sell Kraft Mac'n Cheese in Poundstretcher shops.

    Happy Firework/Bonfire Night.:)

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  12. There is a store called Partridges that has the beloved American "gold fish", cans of pumpkin, mac and cheese, stove top, etc. Hope their is a store near you. When we lived in France, my sister sent us a care package in time for Thanksgiving with all kinds of holiday goodies and fun. It was expensive...ha! But, we fed a dozen LDS missionaries every Thanksgiving for three years. They sooooo loved the American goodies my sister sent from the States. It was so worthwhile. We also grew our own pumpkins for our kids to carve and enjoy. Worked out well. Good luck.

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  13. Charity, I can relate!
    The highs and lows are real. Four (4!!) years after relocating to the U.S. South, I could still refer to such a list.

    Please, please consider doing a home tour once you are settled! :)

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  15. You and your family have said many times that you support, help and accept non-traditional families. Obviously your church feels differently. Please explain.

    From ksl.com

    SALT LAKE CITY — The LDS Church confirmed Thursday that children living with same-sex parents or guardians will not be allowed membership in the church until reaching "legal age" and the individual "disavows the practice of same-gender cohabitation and marriage."

    The new instructions are included in a revision to Handbook 1, the guide for stake presidents and bishops.

    The criteria for membership also requires an individual to no longer be living with a parent "who has lived or currently lives in a same-gender cohabitation relationship or marriage."

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    Replies
    1. Hi Charity, I would love to hear your thoughts about this topic! Maybe you`d like to share?

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    2. hi. i am still very much wrapping my head around the issue and will not comment publicly about it until i have given appropriate care to analyzing context and determining my thoughts and feelings.m (if at all). while i work out what i don't totally understand, i will remember what my heart truly knows: that god loves all of his children, does lead his church, and has all knowledge.

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    3. This provides some context: http://www.mormonnewsroom.org/article/handbook-changes-same-sex-marriages-elder-christofferson

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    4. Jesus said love the person but hate the sin. This means that as Christians we are called to love the homosexual but not the sexual act of sodomy. We are always to show love and compassion towards others. Homosexual sexual act is against all moral and natural law. It is a disordered nature. Sexual acts are meant to between a man and a woman. Marriage is between one man and one woman. Anything outside of this is against God. God will always love us but he wants us to choose life.

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  16. As was previously mentioned by a commenter, Elder Christofferson does an excellent job explaining this in an interview. I highly recommend listening to that interview, or reading it. Children of same-sex parents are welcome and allowed to come to church and church activities. As are their parents. And there are some who do. We believe at baptism, a person makes serious covenants and a committment to God. A child living with same-sex parents, is being taught that which is in opposition to what the Church teaches. I believe this is why the policy is in place-- to allow the individual to reach an adult age, where they can decide for themselves, whether or not they truly believe and support the teachings of the Gospel. Elder Christofferson is better at expressing this than I am. Elder Christofferson has a brother who has same-sex attraction, and I also have relatives in the same situation. We love our family members. And we know God loves them. Standards and commandments are actually proof of that. I support the Church in the policy, because I know God is a lot more wise than any of us are. He knows the purpose and He knows the blessings that will come from it for the children in these situations. I believe that.

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    1. Wait until your spouse leaves you for their same sex lover and your 7 year 8 month old child can't get baptized in 4 months like the older kids since both you and your spouse will be sharing custody. Reject family and don't marry outside the temple. (If you do you cant seal for a year) Reject family and you can be LDS even if you were born polygamist. (Even if you said for years on national tv you will never live polygamy.) Reject family in adulthood and you can join the church neither parent opposed when you were the typical age of a member being baptized. (Will parents of gay adult children be next?)

      What right does this church have to seek members from outside LDS families? They have qualifiers that go beyond the investigators own actions. Those who wanted their black neighbor to hold the priesthood in 1966 was not bad for not supporting their church. Suddenly in the 70's they were no longer in error and it turned out they were right.

      I wish she did an article on the matter for people to comment on her blog about this. We know she can't say anything against it even if she felt that way. Feel free to delete.

      Do unto others. You think things don't effect you until you realize they do. I hope people supporting this gave that some thought. If the announcement required you to do something you were taught as a church was wrong your entire life would you still support the announcement? The kid part is too much.

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    2. dear readers and commenters,

      this is not meant to be a place for debating current events. i am not yet ready to comment publicly on this issue, and i don't know if i ever will be. in the meantime and regardless, please take your debate elsewhere.

      and of course i am free to say how i feel about this issue or any other relating to my faith, regardless of my agreement or disagreement. i seek to have my opinions and perspectives guided, but certainly not dictated, by god and the leaders of his church.

      this is a really difficult and complicated issue. i mourn with those who it deeply hurts as i continue to learn and pray.

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    3. I apologize for the comment about Church policy, on your blog. I thought it might provide some clarification or understanding to those inquiring.

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    4. it's ok!! i appreciate your desire to help clarify, since someone else brought it up. i am just saying this isn't the place for a debate (although understanding different perspectives is really good). thanks for reading here. all comments are welcome - i just don't want it to turn into a big debate on my blog when i am not prepared or ready to contribute my voice.

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  17. Good answer, Charity. Thank you.

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  18. Charity, I love how you answer with dignity and grace. Your sense of perspective and compassion keep me coming back to see what exciting things you are up to. I find inspiration in how you handle life's events - both positive and challenging - and find encouragement to add more exuberance to my life. Love your writing, can't wait to see what you are up to next.

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  19. This is so so so so sad. i am so thankful that i am a member of a church that seals same-sex-couples. Everybody is welcomed in this church, nobody is judged or excluded. Wouldn`t want to have it any other way. Can`t believe that your church "leaders" judge homosexuals as sinners. Oh my goodnes. Really??

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  20. Well the Bible actually condemns homosexuality in both the old and new testaments. So it's not just her church leaders - if you consider the Bible to be your "holy book" then your religion should condemn them also.

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  21. Well, I`m glad it doesn`t.

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    1. Then it does not believe in the Bible as being God's Holy Word. Since that's what it says.

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    2. Her church should not condemn the children of a parent or parents. It's one of the articles of their faith that a person is only accountable for their own "sins". Believers are called to reject Satan not people. The bible is just as plain about a million other activities. This policy will cause more suicides, end of church attendance and nastiness in divorced homes where custody will be more serious and all because of this church. When you make a commitment to God you risk family cutting themselves off from you. That isn't Christian. Being gay doesn't mean you stop believing in God any more than any other forbidden activity. There are a thousand christian denominations reading the same book and come up with a different list of do and don't. This was all because the new mayor of salt lake is gay and new leadership positions were filled and they could put it through. For some reason a church with 55,000 missionaries wants to see 1,000,000 leave or fail to be full members. The 7 year old blessed in the church at birth who has seen three siblings baptized and her oldest sibling marry in the temple can't get baptized until 18 and rejecting her parent cause her mom and dad divorced and one parent is living with their significant other of the same gender, even with the permission of both parents to be baptized. But the 9 year old who just started going to church three months ago with her parents can get baptized after only a few months of lessons. This situation could apply to any family. You never know if your spouse will leave you or your in law will leave unable to live the lie they were pretending (at church suggestion) and your kid's or nephews could be effected.

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    3. Absolutely. Couldn`t agree more. It`s sad but true.

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    4. The question is: Point out any policy or sermon where the words Jesus shared drove the youth to take their own lives. (as is happening in Utah and other places around the world from this announcement) You will not. HIS message was Love. Always always Love. At what point do members of the church stand up and say "Wait! This is TOO much at TOO great a cost?" It won't happen because their leadership is given blind faith that they will "Never lead them astray."

      All good and well until someone close to you takes their own life because of these type of ego- based policies that come out. Children are DYING over this policy yet justifications from membership come first. (Not saying this is you Charity this is just an important topic (and true not fun to discuss) but most have kind hearts on your blog and are open to at least the exchange of ideas)

      Statistically speaking someone you know and love is hiding in plain sight. Right in front of you. Heart breaking because they can not live an authentic life or tell you who they are. This latest announcement drives them into greater despair and the realization that they are now the hunted. I know as I am one of them.

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  22. How is it possible that a flight to, well, anywhere is 7 pounds?!!

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  23. I'm not really interested in holding you responsible for the policies of the church. I am interested in knowing HOW YOU CAN POSSIBLY GO TO THE GERMAN CHRISTMAS MARKETS WITHOUT ME I THOUGHT WE WERE FRIENDS HOW COULD YOU DO THIS TO ME I AM DEVASTATED I WANT TO GO SOOOOOO BADLY.

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  24. i agree with brittany. WHY THE HECK DO YOU THINK YOU CAN DO FUN THINGS WITHOUT ME?can you find me 7 pound tickets to switzerland too? love you.

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  25. I don't want to pressure you Charity, but I would be very interested in hearing your perspective on the new policy, if/when you're ready to share your thoughts.

    I've been reading your blog for a while now, and I've really come to respect where you come from in regards to your faith. I've always found you to be very open and accepting of other perspectives and ideologies.

    That being said, please don't feel obligated to formulate a response.

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  26. Love this post and love your exceptional talent for writing, both in the use of word and expression of your soul! Dad and I read these last two posts together this morning and are so happy to hear your clear thoughts on life and "minding the gap"!

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