Yesterday was Thanksgiving – the quintessential American holiday. My favorite holiday, in fact. I love its autumnal colo(u)rs, its food, and its focus on gratitude. I did not miss being in the US yesterday, but I was very thankful right here, where I am.
The day began with a sound knock on our door. Parcel Force had arrived with a HUGE package. My mother, god bless 'er, sent over a wildly extravagant Thanksgiving care-package from America. I’m not kidding; there can be no doubt from whence I get my “champagne tastes”. She really outdid herself this time – nearly surpassing the Christmas package I received from her while I was living in London during my undergraduate Junior Year Abroad.
That Christmas my mother sent a 10lb smoked turkey and a homemade lemon pound cake from America, hand-delivered to me by childhood BFF (Best Friend Forever)! Now that is a care-package. My poor friend had to wrestle a 10lb turkey and a lemon pound cake as carry-on luggage through Customs on both sides of the Atlantic. You’d never get away with such shenanigan now, that’s for sure!
My mother is a bit more restrained these days, but not by much. This time, via Parcel Force, she sent two, whole, smoked pheasants from Vermont, Canadian ham, fruitcake, freshly baked Stollen, Christmas pudding, and an array of Tipton’s sauces. Bless her, I have tried to explain, but she fails to listen/accept, that I live in the land of freshly killed pheasants and homemade Christmas pudding; and Tipton’s sauces are available at my local Sainsbury’s. But, as they say, it’s the thought that counts, and what a dear thought it was.
Thankfully, the early parcel arrival helped me to build up enough steam to make it to Morning Prayer at St. Peter’s -- an ordinary event for a Thursday in Barford, but one that held special significance for me yesterday.
As thankful as I am for this new and amazing life, I must confess that I spent most of yesterday in a rather low and melancholy mood. We have guests coming on Saturday for a Thanksgiving Feast—more on that later—and so I busied myself by finally tackling the boxes of clothes that have long overrun the guest bedroom. Luckily, it was also collection day for clothing donations for the Warwickshire & Northamptonshire Helicopter Ambulance unit, so a good old sort out was in order.
For some reason, facing my wardrobe yesterday was like reading through old love letters, or rummaging through old family photographs. Trouser suits. Skirt suits. Silk shirts. Leather bags. Suede boots that would make Sarah Palin weep. Ann Taylor this, Anthropologie, that. J. Crew for days. Fragments of my former, sassy, New York, “diva professor” life.
I picked up a slinky, black, schoolgirl-style jumper dress that I have yet to even wear; I looked at it longingly, hoping, praying it will still fit. My life, before I discovered British carbs. At my smallest, last year, I was a size 0. Those days are long gone. I stopped, and caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror, and what I saw was a chunky, little, Warwickshire hausfrau in comfortable sweats and wild hair. What’s happened to me?
As you can imagine, this line of thinking only led to a larger, more pathetic re-evaluation of my life in general. “What are you doing?” I asked myself aloud. “Get a job, get a life!” I barked at the woman in the mirror. “I’m doing the best I can,” was her weak response.
One of my very best friends, another sassy New York diva (she would probably say “the” sassy New York diva) left New York two years ago, and now lives in Hong Kong. She recently described to me a scene similar to the one I had, and my advice to her at that time was short, snappy, tough-love: “You’ve got a great life. Get over yourself!” The truth is, leaving the paying, professional world behind to follow your heart and your dreams is actually quite tough. And it didn’t really dawn on me until now. I owed her an apology. So I dropped her an email and said:
You realize, as always, I am about six months behind you. It is slowly sinking into my rather thick skull that my world now revolves around Sainsbury’s, my BBC Good Food Guide, creative ways of making dinner, laundry, pet food, and the Barford W.I. Who have I become? Who am I kidding? I'm still waiting to have the last laugh. But, maybe the joke's on me. I miss who we were. I miss dressing up for work.
She’s away on holiday, so I’ll have to wait for her reply. In the meantime, I have treated myself to my own short, snappy, tough-love: “If you love that cashmere sweater dress – put it on!” and so, I did. I went on: “Listen. You made the decision to leave the workaday world, so live with it. Now, you work for me!”
I threw off my sweats, brushed my hair, squeezed myself into my grey cashmere sweater dress, and felt so much better! Okay, I work from home. I’m trying to build a career as a freelance writer, and that is work. It is just as much work as my old, “sassy suit” job in New York. Sure, it pays a whole lot less, well, okay, it doesn’t pay anything yet, but at least this time, it’s about me and for me. And for that, I am truly thankful.