13 days in

I’ve been in the US for 13 days. I have finally got a US phone number, and waved a sad goodbye to the phone number that I have had since my very first phone, the trusty Nokia 5110 with the changeable covers…

I’ve cleaned all the things – most things more than once, and the dirt keeps coming. It doesn’t help that we have a juvenile feline who likes to shred anything he can get his adorable little paws on. We invested in a laser pointer in the last few days, just to keep him busy.

Cowboy and kitten ❤️Sometimes we can wear him out, just for a moment.

I’ve started to learn where everything lives in the supermarkets. I’ve learned that you can’t get anything for a good price without giving up your personal information and getting the store club card.

I have a pile of recycling in my kitchen and my shed because I haven’t yet deciphered the recycling system. It involves crates with very similar contents listed on them. How exactly do “scrap paper” and “newspaper” differ in any significant way? Why is there no crate for plastic? It is mystifying.

I have fed Cowboy some real food and he has repaid me with some manual labour, heavy lifting and getting up early to get the horses in while I snooze for another hour or two.

The horses have been a joyous challenge to me. Sunshine is teaching me about how to say “I mean it!” and our new addition, Beau, is teaching me about lightness. Sunshine has been so desensitised that you could do just about anything with her and she barely blinks, which is wonderful for keeping people safe, but it also means she needs a louder cue. Beau is so light and responsive to anything and everything that just thinking something seems to be enough for him.

His little quirk is that he has spent so much of his 4 years in the arena, he has no idea how to pick up his feet. So we spent some time teaching him the other night.

After a good ride on Sunshine this evening, I got to sit and watch the sunset, and look at Mount Baker, the moon, and these two figuring things out.It took him a few goes to catch on.

There is something magical about watching this little horse think something through for the first time. He tries so hard. He wants the right answer, and when he understands the question properly, he is ready for anything.

It was a beautiful evening, and it reminded me why I came here. Me, the cowboy, horses and the fresh air. I am so lucky.

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Early days

I moved to a new country on Wednesday. It is now Saturday, and I have spent the last two days cleaning my house, stocking up my cupboards at Costco, befriending the kitten (including believing I had lost the kitten out of a window, crying in the garden thinking I would be dumped for being a negligent girlfriend, finding said kitten inside the house after all – hiding in the recliner), and attempting to get my head around the gargantuan to-do list. It’s early days in the New Life.

I have also succeeded in eating badly, sleeping badly, overreacting, panicking, and my personal favourite: sitting in a stupor.

Cowboy is hiding from me this morning, while I scowl at the computer. Who knew it would be so difficult to find affordable, relatively nice furniture in an actual shop where I could go in and just get the furniture? I didn’t realise how important it would be to me to have furniture. I’ve been living out of a suitcase for weeks now. It was fine while I was waiting to move, but now I’m here, I want to plunge some roots down and feel like I have a home.

It’s becoming an ordeal. If I could hide from myself, I would.

On the flip side, things that I thought would be horrible, terrible, insurmountable issues as part of the move have turned out to be nothings, and the relief is overwhelming.

Yesterday I played with the horses in the rain, and began to see how good life is going to be. If I could only get some furniture…

Headache

I have a headache. It might be because I’ve neglected to wear my glasses for the last few weeks, but have simultaneously upped my computer usage while I try to negotiate the Big Move. Might be because I’ve had a bit too much sugar and caffeine today.

Might be fatigue, might be muscle spasm, might be a virus.

Might be my poor brain trying to understand whether or not my UK iPhone will work in the USA, and if so, how do I get a good deal on a mobile contract? I pay £6 per month, and so far the cheapest option I’ve found over there for something remotely comparable is over $40 per month. I’m not even certain that my UK phone (unlocked, bought from the Apple shop, and destined to be used until it dies) will be recognised by the US networks, which seem to have a will of their own.

Might be my brain trying to figure out how to pay the bills. Might be the fierce desperation that I have to suddenly and inexplicably win the lottery, so that I can suddenly and inexplicably buy a homestead of my own. The nesting instinct is powerful these days.

Might be the sadness that is starting to set in, as I begin to understand that I am moving far away from my closest friends, from my close-knit family, and from everything that is familiar to me.

Might be the many hours spent at the sewing machine today, making bunting.

I think I’ve lost my mind…

Last minute

It is rapidly becoming the last minute. I am down to last minute meetings, last minute socialising, last minute packing, last minute shopping, last minute panicking, etc etc.

Today has mostly been about last minute hair dye, as I realised it must be almost a year since my mother slapped henna (I use Caca Rouge from Lush, and have done so for over ten years) all over my head and I propped myself up for several hours while the mud did its miracle thing on my hair.

With what feels like several tonnes of goop and clingfilm on my head at the moment, my neck is rather sore. That may have something to do with the killer upper body workout that Mark the Magician made me do this morning. His trainers matched the walls of the gym today. I was rather impressed, but I don’t think it was intentional.

“Rather than mess about with more reps,” he said, as I sipped water in a recovery break between push presses, “how about we just build up this weight to about that of a saddle?” This man has paid close attention to my goals, and I love him for it.

If I can now push 60lbs over my head three times, without dying immediately, hopefully I can avoid the shame of flinging Cowboy’s saddle, forcefully and enthusiastically, into the side of my horse instead of over her back.

I’ve also ended up doing some last minute bonding with this little monster, who has spent the last nine months completely ignoring me.

She has finally realised that I will scratch her ears, rub her belly and bump heads with her at her every whim.

I’ll even feed her. I’m that kind of cat person.

Marmite

Marmite

I think she might be a little sad when I leave, if she even notices, of course.

MarmiteI’m not really going to miss her needle sharp claws being dug (with love) into my legs, arms, neck, feet, fingers, etc.

She can be a little over zealous with her affection.

She also likes to dribble on me when she’s really enjoying the bonding session. Then she likes to shake her head and spray the dribble all over me, and whatever it is I’ve been doing whilst petting her. Thanks, Marmite…

You love her or you hate her. Her name really is appropriate.

The Release

Holy Nancy Spumoni Snow Boots… (spot that reference)

It’s often said that you never know how much pressure you can handle until you’re under pressure. I’d actually go a step further – you never know how much pressure you’ve been under until that pressure lifts.

Yesterday was a big day. On the face of it, the pivotal moment was a little over an hour spent at the US Embassy in London, and most of that was sitting and waiting. It wasn’t exactly strenuous or difficult.

The relief, and the release, that came with that magical little word, “approved,” was like a bulldozer. I feel totally drained. I expected to feel exhilarated, thrilled, excited, uplifted, enthused.

All I want to do is sleep. My muscles ache, my joints are sore, and this is not the usual post-gym fatigue. As the tide of adrenaline washes away, I am aware of just how much tension I was holding. It’s a wonder I’ve been getting anything done at all.

I am taking a couple of days to sit with this new development in life. Moving to another country, another name, another way of life is a lot to get my head around. My decision to go ahead with this is being met with mixed emotions from different people. I’m sure there are doubters, but I’m trusting my gut on this one.

Now I think I’m going to go back to bed.