I want to move back to London.

POSTED ON Jan 28th 2014 BY LESLIE LOFTIS UNDER Food, Friendship, Housewifery, London, Texas, Weather

The urge will pass, but right now, I just want to go back to London.

When Virginia and I met as two lonely American expat moms, one of our favorite conversations involved trying to suss out what we liked about London and home.  We quickly figured out that the everyday London life rocked. The instant, however, something went wrong, from a lost, that is picked, wallet, to a medical urgency, to an ice storm, home trumped. We found huge differences in calling in a stolen credit card to American Express vs Barclays.

Mostly though, we loved the community, the combination of population density and green spaces that enabled us to socialize while going about everything else we had to do.

I find the day to day difficult in Houston. It’s lonelier. I can get the community. I have gotten it. It just requires more continual effort. In London, once you had a village, then it was there, available, at the ready.  Lately, my efforts here have tired me out. I feel like I’m having to wrangle a village together. (One friend can lecture me that this is completely my fault. Her texts got buried.)

Granted, my mom’s rapidly approaching move in here might have me a little on edge. She comes to live with us temporarily at the end of the week. I’ve no problem with mom being here. It’s her stuff. She keeps a bit more stuff than I do. She has been bringing it here. Last week she brought over my wedding cake, not the topper, the top layer. …Yes, I have been married for a while. Thirteen years, actually. The cake wasn’t identifiable except for the “Leslie’s Wedding Cake” label on the Tupperware lid. Persephone laughed when she came by to pick up my nephew. Yasha didn’t believe me when I Skyped him. My mom is just happy to have the big yellow 80’s vintage Tupperware bowl back. She’d been looking for it—for about 12 years it seems.

My wedding cake. I took the photo from its best side.

My wedding cake. I took the photo from its best side.

Last week’s ice storm didn’t likely help either. The kids and I had a bit of cabin fever. And we might get to do it again tomorrow!

So maybe those things have me a little on edge. But still, building community takes more work here. After a frustrating morning yesterday, a girlfriend came over with her girls. Thank goodness. She talked me down from the trees on Sunday afternoon and I felt better. But then school started this morning and there was more silly little nonsense of the kind I didn’t have to fight in London. (FYI to all my FB friends I’ve been chatting religion or feminism with this morning—I’m not referring to our discussions. Those kept me grounded. Practical things have vexed me.)

I’m going to take a walk to calm down and cope. Then I’m going to hit the grocery store to prep for Ice Storm 2014, The Duce. If I don’t prep, we will actually get iced in. Even that makes me ache for London. When we’d ice over, Virginia and Lily would walk over with their kids. We’d hunker down together. (Today we will hang out with Canadian expat neighbors. Yes, they are laughing at us and our “ice storm.”)

As it happens, M&M sent me an email yesterday. I had recently sent her some rogue signage from the London Underground and she teasingly asked in closing, “Do you miss us?” I got the email at my peak moment of agitation with Houston community life. M&M, Suzanne, Gnomz, Foxy, Lara—all y’all*—I miss you so much it almost hurts.


*Yes, my non-Texan friends, that is the plural of “y’all”.


UPDATE: We got another Ice Day. I spent the evening prepping so didn’t get to post comments for Sandbox on her post on Amy Glass until this morning. I was late on that because Calvin is learning to cook. Long story short, he paid too much attention to the oatmeal–the entire can of oatmeal that he cooked–and not enough to the bacon. No fires, he just smoked the kitchen. My vent doesn’t have much pull, so I had to open a few windows, not an ideal option when it is 30 degrees outside. The children ran back to their beds while screaming, “Are you crazy? It’s cold outside!” I should have thought of this last night! I should’ve cracked a window in the kitchen and use the cold to keep them in bed! Hindsight is always 20/20.

UPDATE II: Why do moms blog? Because it works. Within 10 minutes of posting, I got a friendly phone call from another repatriate. We are on the same London longing schedule it seems. Some Facebook discussion quickly followed. Within 30 minutes, I got a call from Maverick who wanted to check up on me. The consensus is in: helicopter moming takes much of the blame for this isolation. Working or not, American moms are too busy to connect with each other. (Mav is batting 1000 on repatriated friends who find American motherhood baffling. Canada and her friend Norway came over for coffee and agreed. I know team London does.) As it happens, I’m drafting an article about the helicopter mom discussions we don’t see. We talk about how it stunts kids’ maturity and how it exhausts mothers, but it has so much more dirty laundry. I have female isolation listed as one of the middle topics. I think I’ll bump it to first, or last, as benefits its status as the immediate consequence of hovering. (Oh, and I’m not being sexist by calling it “helicopter moming”. The tendencies of moms to helicopter more than dads is one of the missing discussions.)

Oh, and it did sleet, and snow. Sandbox, I see your comment from sunny and semi-urban San Fran. I stick my tongue out at you. Now, to make a fire. I think I remember how…


  1. edge_of_the_sandbox said:

    Thanks for linking. It’s about 65 degrees around here and no rain. Summer, basically.
    One of the nice things about Europe is the street culture, ability to walk anywhere and friends nearby. Many American cities are the same way, though. Where I live is semi-urban, I can live in a detached home and still walk to social life, and that’s a nice compromise.

  2. ChezAristote said:

    Let’s bump the discussion of female isolation as high as it can go.

    My trouble is that I’d love to find non-helicopter people to befriend, but I keep having conversations where people asking subtle, preliminary questions about how quickly my kid is developing.

    It makes such a difference when you can just walk over. I briefly lived in Hyattsville, MD, and while there was a big cheerful listserv community of mothers, it couldn’t even compare with the two friends who can bike over in New Orleans. Here’s some fingers crossed for Houston and its dispositions!

  3. Leslie Loftis said:

    ChezAristote, consider it bumped.

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