Tuesday, August 04, 2009

You Can't Fit England In A Suitcase

I love unpacking. I know it sounds crazy. I don't love the piles of dirty clothes, the inevitable exploded shampoo bottle and the fruitless search for that other flip flop, but I do love checking out the loot from my trip. This is particularly the case when we come back from England, and in that respect I am always disappointed.

I spend an average of 18 months between trips home. I tell LK, Christ, even prisoners get better visitation rights than me. He loves to hear that!

This length of time between visits always leads to a mammoth list of things to buy/eat/do, not to mention, people to visit. When we're home for 10 days, it's just not possible. Plus, most of the food I want to consume, the 'delicacies' peculiar to my hometown just can't be eaten back to back without suffering extreme gastric blockage. Obviously I don't spend 18 months longing for a nibble of a red currant or a Bramley apple. I want sausage rolls, curries, pork pies, chocolate, toffee, Fat Rascals, pontefract cakes, fish and chips - the list is endless and a veritable comfort food time bomb. It's just not possible to get to everything on my list without resorting to having pork pie and chocolate for breakfast. OK, I may have done that. Don't judge me!

The same is true for general shopping. I spend a year and a half yearning to go back to White Stuff, Jack Wills, H&M, Zara, Mango, Monsoon for kids, etc and then find I have to cram it all in to a morning in York with my Mum. Whilst also fitting in a cup of coffee at one of the many gorgeous cafes crammed in to a 500 year old building.

This time we managed to hit the White Stuff sale. OMG. I blew 80% of my paltry time and money budget in that one shop - but it was well worth it. Still, no H&M, no Mango, only the briefest of sprints through Jack Wills (which I'm beginning to think is like a UK Abercrombie and Fitch and I sadly may have outgrown it - but oh, I will wear their sweatpants til I die!!).

*Sigh* All of this means that when I gleefully unpack in our sunny bedroom in SB a few days later I'm consistently disappointed at my lack of loot. You can't put a Marks and Spencers minced beef pie in your carry-on if you've got 3 days, 2 trains and 4 flights back to your final destination but you can stuff your luggage with Wheat Crunchies, pick and mix, Thorntons toffee and the like. You can't buy every article of clothing you've yearned for (and I haven't even explained what it's like to be confronted with an entire country's worth of new girls clothes and a pound that has FINALLY weakened against the dollar).

I think in all honesty the disappointment stems from the realization that you can't fit England in to a suitcase. You can take as many photos as possible, visit as many places, have pints with as many friends, gorge on a years worth of British 'cuisine' - even catch a sneaky 'University Challenge' on TV, but you can't do it all. I can't pack that cold, damp air that seems to be so much fresher than the soft California breezes. I can't pack green on green on green. I can take a photo of my Nanna holding her sleeping second great-grandchild but I don't get to keep seeing it.

I don't get to live there.

I was in tears at Manchester airport. As usual. People would look at me in puzzlement and think 'but love, you're leaving Manchester, you're one of the lucky ones....'. Do you know what started me off? Jelly Babies. I saw them in a shop yet I just couldn't fit one more thing in to our over-stuffed hand luggage, and quite frankly I've never been the biggest fan of Jelly Babies, but the idea of Anna being denied them, that despite me telling her I would introduce her to all that was brilliant about English sweets vs. American candy I had failed; well that destroyed me.

Chuffing Jelly Babies. I must be losing my mind.

13 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hi,

I live pretty close to you, I'm in San Jose. I too am a British expat and have been back home three times in eight months due to my dad having Alzheimers. Trips home when my now teenagers where small was fun and my parents were younger. Now they are in their 70s and it's sad seeing them old. I have been here 25 years and have missed so much of their lives. Sorry to depress you more but it gets harder, not easier.

I spent £100 on chocolate, sweets, Paxo, Thorntons and M&S cakes and other goodies!

Elaine

Anonymous said...

We miss you. And we are going to send you Jelly Babies. Not because they made you cry, just because! S and G xx

Fishsticks and Fireflies said...

I can only imagine how hard it must be to be so far away from 'home'. I suspect that Elaine is right, as well, which only makes missing it worse. I do, however, think it is fantastic that you are able to get over there (even if it is only once every two years.) I am sure they are trips that your girls will come to treasure.

Daffodilly said...

DOn't forget that your family will come & visit & replenish your essentials stocks. My sister arrives tomorrow Cadburys & Thorntons for dinner for me!

Glad you had a good trip home.

Hyphen Mama said...

Internet shopping???? Well, for the clothes, I mean. Probably not for the pork pies.

Must google pork pie.

Little Britainer said...

oh no! I'll send you some jelly babies! (there's an English food shop in NY where you can get them....) I've been away for almost two years now, although we've had a lot of visitors recently. I suddenly realised I'd forgotten to ask anyone to bring over any jaffa cakes though and that brought me close to tears... They're $4.49 for a pack of 12 (which take about 3 mins or less to eat) in the english food shop here....The price just takes the fun out of eating them.

Karen @ If I Could Escape . . . said...

Awwww, I felt the same way! I was just back in the UK for a month -- have been back almost a month now and still feeling like I could have done or seen more! Spent a fab day in York but wished I could have had more there!

Whereabouts in North Yorkshire are you from?

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