Keep Calm and Carry On, the wartime poster read. It had been a gift when someone found out we were moving to the UK. The slogan was meant to raise the morale of the British people, living under the threat of German invasion. Odd then, that I was the invading party and the one who needed the calming down (the phrase ‘running around like a headless chicken’ springs to mind).
Around six months ago, my husband had sidled on into the living room looking slightly sheepish. ‘There’s this job…’ he said, his eyes not quite meeting mine. The job, as it turned out, was in Cambridge, 16,000km from the home we shared with our two small kids in Brisbane, Australia.
He got the job. And then, as husbands tend to do, left the general freaking out duties to me. Oh, but there was plenty to freak out about. For a start, restraining two small children for 22 hours of flying time (there was no Phenergan Air, I’d checked). Then we had driving on black ice, meeting my kids’ high Vegemite dependency needs (where would I get supplies?), driving on black ice, handing the keys of my new-ish car over to my little brother, farewelling the only Woolies on earth where I could locate any given item and driving on black ice. Oh, and then there was driving on black ice. Yes, I was more than a little worried about that one. You don’t get much black ice in the sub-tropics.
I sobbed when I realised that we wouldn’t be spending next Christmas the only way I knew how – sweltering in 40-degree heat with the oven turned up full-bore cooking a traditional roast turkey. I despaired when English real-estate agents started telling me that showers in UK bathrooms were ‘optional’ and that my 6ft1” husband would squeeze into an 18th century 6ft ceilinged cottage kitchen ‘just fine’ (not sure how that works – a quick hobbling, maybe?).
I found out that watching hundreds of YouTube videos of people driving on black ice is probably scarier than driving on actual black ice.
‘It’ll be an adventure!’ everyone told me. When people said this, I took a couple deep breaths and re-read the poster. Keep Calm and Carry On. It really wasn’t me. But with time and a little tweaking, I came closer…
Keep Calm and Carry Vegemite.
It would be my mantra. If I could just do both those things, simultaneously, for 24 hours per day, for 365 days, I might pull through this move in one piece.
Hell, if I wasn’t careful, I might even enjoy myself.