10 May London is Calling
Just when I started getting used to telling people that we’re leaving to travel South America, the rug was pulled from beneath me and the result was a clusterfuck of a week that shifted our perspective and made us rethink our decision to travel, but rather emigrate… to the UK.
Let me back up for a second.
It started on a Tuesday morning, when we woke up to realize our car had been broken into. We spent the rest of the day waiting for the police who scribbled down a case number and drove off.
The following day, we were on our way out when we got a call from D’s gran’s nurse to come quick. We immediately turned the car around and made our way to his mom’s house, preparing ourselves for anything and everything… except what his mom had to say.
Tragically, D’s uncle had been found murdered in his apartment in Sea Point and before any of us had time to digest the news, we went into crisis mode, came together as a family and supported each other in any way possible.
In almost no time at all, my sister-in-law and her boyfriend jumped on a plane from London and came home to help the family through this difficult time, and just when we thought it couldn’t get any worse, it did.
Exactly a week later, my father-in-law was diagnosed with colon cancer.
I sighed and with relief I figured that we’ve hit rock bottom which means we can only rebuild from here. In between the funeral planning, the drama that comes with lots of emotions, too little sleep and everyone grieving, we found comfort in each other and spent any free time chatting over cheese platters, playing board games and poking fun at each other.
It’s the one thing I am always so grateful to have learnt from Darren; the ability to find humour in the darkest times.
The following Friday night, D and I were busy working when he started pacing around with pains in his heart. After the week we had just survived, I wasn’t willing to take any chances, so we loaded the kids into the car and made our way to the ER. Everyone was under so much stress and pressure as it was, so we didn’t bother telling anyone.
The entire drive there, I told myself that D had to be okay and that this is probably just some sort of over-exaggeration like a massive burp building up. But when we got there, the doctor confirmed that D’s blood pressure was out of control and he needed further testing to find out what was causing the pain in his heart.
I was sitting alone in the car with two sleeping boys, a battery on 10% and a heart full of fear and sadness. By some miracle my dad was in town (he had been in Cape Town for the last 6 months), and 10 minutes from us, so he brought me a charger and sat with us until we got the tests back.
Thankfully, it wasn’t a heart attack but rather an infection in his heart. The doctor said we were very lucky to have come in when we did as these things can take a turn for the worst very quickly.
A few days later, we were sitting with my sister-in-law and her boyfriend discussing their decision to emigrate to London and what it is like living in the UK, three years later. It was an insightful discussion and sort of answered a lot of my reservations that I had about travelling South America.
You see, my biological dad was born and lives in the UK, so I am entitled to a British Citizenship. I had always wanted to claim it, especially when I was younger, but finances and circumstances were never right. With this at the back of my mind, the more we chatted to my sister-in-law, the more the UK made better sense for our family… long-term.
For starters, I was really worried about how we were going to manage getting D’s chronic medication while travelling all over South America. He has been on psych meds since the age of 16 to manage his bi-polar and I wasn’t quite sure what it would be like to get a new script from a local doctor every 90-days.
Also, there’s a language barrier.
The reality of being at the ER alone with my boys was scary enough, but can you imagine being in a foreign country where you can’t understand anyone, and you have no idea what’s wrong with your husband?
I shudder at the thought.
In the UK we have a lot of family. We are exceptionally close to my sister-in-law and her boyfriend who live in central London. Of course, I also have my darling best friend Leigh-Ann and her gorgeous son, Seth, plus a whole family who I haven’t had the chance of getting to know, including my biological dad, sisters, cousins, aunts, uncles, nan and grandad. D also has his cousin and brother and so, I don’t think I ever have to worry about us being alone or unsupported. In fact, we will have a lot to go over to.
Then there’s the fact that the British schooling system is so much more advanced. If I am being honest, applying to schools is one of the first things that made us consider travelling at all. We are so worried about the boys’ education and whether a South African matric certificate will hold any merit 20 years from now. I want the boys to be able to travel and aspire to be whatever they dream to be but watching how the pass rates are constantly being lowered and the curriculum changed to accommodate more passes makes me worry about the quality of a pass and whether it’ll even mean anything.
Another thing is that I will be able to continue blogging. I knew that if we were going to travel South America, it was unlikely that I’d be able to keep up with the blog. The language barrier, the moving every 3 months and the entirely different market meant that it would be a challenge trying to get established over there. But I do think that by moving to the UK I will have a lot more opportunities and might even be able to blog full-time as it’s actually quite possible over there. For a long time, I have been feeling despondent because it’s almost as if I have grown stagnant locally and am exhausted by all the clicks, drama and BS that comes with being part of the SA blogging community. Everyone is too worried about what the other is doing, instead of just focusing on creating good content that they can be proud of. Leigh-Ann has already provided so much insight on what it is like blogging in the UK and what I can expect and I am incredibly excited for what awaits me on that side and feel in my heart of hearts that it can only improve.
And of course, it’s frikken England! I have been there once before and one of my biggest regrets in life is that I did not take full advantage of the opportunity. At the time, I was so caught up in the shock of being in a new country with people I did not know, and it just seemed like too much for my little 12-year old heart to handle, but now I am going there under different circumstances and I can’t wait to explore churches, museums, small towns and big cities with my husband and kids by my side.
The fact that there is no need to worry about a language barrier is a great relief, plus there is much to see and once we get bored of England, there’s Spain, Ireland, and freakin DISNEY LAND in Paris! Of course, I am scared out of mind about the cost of moving there, getting our paperwork, D’s visa and whatever else is likely to pop in the next few months, but I am trying hard to focus on the good that will come from this.
If I had to sum it up, South America is the exotic adventure of a lifetime and one that I am having a hard time letting go of but emigrating to the UK just makes more sense for our family in the long run. I see just how much life has improved for those that I know who have already emigrated, and I can’t wait to be in that position too.
But until then, I have a whole stack of paperwork that I need to get through to start the process of getting my British passport. Wish us luck!