Moving to America is remarkably like visiting America. Only really sad and much more physically strenuous.My last night in the UK was one of joy tinged with sadness; I caught the bus to Greenwich with my housemates – the group of people who had gone from strangers to close friends in a surprisingly short time – and we dined on delicious burgers, red wine, and much mirth and happiness. After retiring to our house, they presented me with cupcakes, heartfelt messages in cards, as well as two touching gifts. One was a beautiful black leather wallet from Aspinals of London – with a flash of blue suede – and the other was a framed photograph of Princess, the cat that Vicki and I had taken in as our part-time pet for months before she disappeared.
The following morning was tough. I was up early, doing the very final packing of my things and making sure that the ridiculous amount of luggage was ready. I had three suitcases – two large, one medium – along with a company-provided backpack stuffed to the gills (two laptops, associated chargers, adapters and plugs for other electronic items, and an iPad), a camera bag, a yoga mat, and a folio containing my passport and all of the visa documents that I thought I might need.
I didn’t get to say goodbye to Dean again, as I ended up leaving before him, but gave both the girls a cuddle before they went off to work. I held back the emotion, waving each of them off as things threatened to get too weepy, promising myself that I’d take a half hour once everyone had gone and before the taxi arrived to let myself confront the feelings that come with leaving people for a long time.
The taxi arrived early. Before I knew it, I had deposited my keys, said farewell to the house that I’d spent the last year in, and was being spirited briskly through the streets of South London. Thankfully another friend was texting me, taking my mind off things until I reached the airport. The journey itself was quicker than I’d expected – the driver clearly being well-versed in the streets of Southwark. Either that or Waze was on particularly good form that day.
I arrived before my parents, who were coming from Wales to meet me. Depositing my ridiculous luggage – £205 for two additional bags with Virgin Atlantic – I made my way up to Security, fighting my autopilot to avoid walking through it and really pissing off my parents. They arrived a few minutes later, and we had brunch for about 90 minutes before it was time to leave them, too.
In a way, this parting was easier but also really hard. A hug to each of them, and then I was forced to go through the Security rigmarole; this compared to the long goodbyes and words exchanged back at home, followed by 20 minutes sat by myself in the living room.
The airport experience was nothing worth writing about. Since December 2013 I’ve been through airports too many times to count. I have my own little procedures and it felt just like any other time I headed out to the US. I had my usual non-extra-legroom seat on the plane (53H) and, despite being sat next to an Australian who was about seven foot tall with limbs as long as I am tall, it passed uneventfully. The food was fine, I watched Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2 (amazing!!) and Fast & the Furious Eight (meh), but frustratingly had to contend with a cold and cough which had materialised that morning.
At 4:20pm local time (EST; 9:20pm in the UK) I set foot on US soil, and the ‘Adventure’ finally began for reals.