British remains (When the things you take with you fall apart) 🗑️
Things are falling apart. Specifically, British things. The stuff we brought with us from the UK, 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.
Some of the things we brought made sense:
* electric toothbrush
* electric shaver
We brought our teeth with us, after all, and I used to have stubble.
But both of these required 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 got even worse in Tennessee, making shaving is an exercise in patience. I should have been glad to toss it, but for five American years I oiled the blades, hoping for one more run before the thing finally seizes up or delivers me a shuddering scar.
And then I got bronchitis, stopped shaving, and remembered that all men in Tennessee have a beard.
Some of the things we brought were just sad:
Yeah, this stuff is running out now. When we rented, I mailed our rent check inside a Tesco envelope.
And it cheered me, sending something so American in something so British. But I have 3 left. And what am I supposed to do? Buy envelopes? Do people do that? Seriously?
My wife 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 in America. (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.
Ah, we all just want to fit in, don’t we?
We also brought four clocks.
This made sense, because they have time here as well. (America thinks she has 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.
But in a fashion that must surely be symbolic, 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 six years have seemed like a blink, like eternity. I’m not sure what to do with these British scraps but I can’t throw them away.
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 in my basement classroom these days, on the top of the filing cabinet, away from the weather and feline/childish 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 afraid of doing this forever. I guess the only trick to this is to live it.
Maybe my wife is right. Maybe I’m afraid of staying here.
Nothing stands still, we’re all getting older, all changing, my language adapts and acquiesces, and one day soon I’ll come to the conclusion 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 British papers, if I don’t cough up the $250 renewal fee. I find myself thinking, Do I really need a British passport, now that I have a shiny blue American one?
And then I come to my senses and think, You bet your ass I do.