Tuesday, August 9, 2011
Moving On - Ten Years On (1)
Yesterday, the eighth of August, was a milestone anniversary, but only within our family. For it was on this date in 2001 that we landed at John F Kennedy Airport, New York, to begin our American adventure. When I say “we” I naturally mean Sandi, Kate and me, but also the labradors Henry (R.I.P. 2005) and George, the cats Luke (R.I.P 2010) and Thomas. We landed in temperatures of 103̊ Fahrenheit, an airless afternoon, and we were driven with three out of four suitcases to our new lodgings.
But the story really begins two days earlier. On the sixth of August the packers and movers had arrived to turn the home back into a house, and we were itinerant until the evening. Then we were the guests of Commodore Mark Kerr and his wife Lou, who kindly took us in as waifs and strays and gave us cocktails, hot baths, dinner and beds for the night. More than beds, but royal beds, for the rooms we were given were those reserved for the Queen and the Royal Family when they visited the Naval College. Luxurious? Certainly not, dispelling the popular myths of royal opulence and comfort. Such lavishness is normally only associated with other heads of state, not the House of Windsor.
The morning of the seventh came soon enough. After a simple breakfast of toast and bacon we bade farewell and returned to the empty echoes of our former home. Neighbors had gathered to say goodbye, and we loaded up the vehicles for the journey to London. Sandi and the animals in the Volvo, which was being delivered to another naval family en route, and Kate and me in the rented white truck with dog crates and three suitcases – for it was at this point that we forgot the fourth case. It was left in the house, holding, quite appropriately, our summer clothes.
How did I feel driving up the steep hill out of Dartmouth? Sad? Of course, and more than a little insecure and uncertain, for not only were we leaving the college and town, communities that we loved, but I had also left the Royal Navy. The previous day my identity card had been cut into pieces, and I was a civilian for the first time in many years. So muddled thoughts, yet none of them connected to the overwhelming fact that we were emigrating to a new country. That one simple hadn’t sunk in, and would not do so for at least another twenty four hours.
Five-year old Kate broke the silence. “Dad? How far is it to Yew Nork?*” A long way, I told her, so we had better stop and get snacks for the journey. She agreed, and I drove on a little while and then looked across at the passenger seat. She had fallen asleep.
(* A name that has stayed in the family to this day!)
(To be continued)
Posted by Tim Lewis at 11:20 AM