Emigration (in photos)

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Sand dollar art at the corner near our old apartment–a dependable & favorite sight on my runs

Hello from London! I made it! Somehow my red-eye flight of 6.5 hours saw no sleep for me. Also, I only had 4 hours of nighttime. I guess that’s fair since I had 24 hours of daylight on my way out. I watched GirlsMy Big Fat Greek Wedding 2, and Very British Problems to prepare myself to be a strong woman endeavoring across multiple cultures. (Definitely.)

I wrote recently about all my feelings. Today (Thursday) I actually woke up at 10 AM. My first two days back in the U.K. I slept more than 16 hours each day, so I’m excited to be a human today. Am I using this time to unpack? to tackle an endless list of loose ends from my travels? to paint? to wear something besides sweatpants? Absolutely not. I’m here, posting photos on my blog. Continue reading “Emigration (in photos)”


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All my places manifested in ID’s and train cards

Hello from the Wolfgang Puck bar in Dulles International Airport! I’m toasting my homeland with my final glass of American beer for awhile with DC Brau Public Ale. After 4 weeks of teaching in California and nearly a week in Virginia with my family, I’m finally flying “home.”

It’s been weird telling people I live in London–I have to immediately explain I’ve just moved. I’ve only lived in our Nether Street apartment for a month. I’m still in limbo. I felt this deeply when my 16 month old niece “helped” me pack my suitcase today. I wasn’t excited for her to learn about suitcases, nor for how much applesauce she got on her entire body while I checked into my flight.

It seems my theme is leaving. I arrived in the U.S. to watch the U.K. Brexit. I was constantly packing up my bags to go sleep in a new house: 12 homes with 13 dogs, 8 cats, 4 chickens, and 3 reptiles welcomed me and then said more good byes. I struggled and stressed with 34 students to learn as much about drawing and painting as possible, only to send them home (and four of them with pretty amazing scholarships). I procrastinated good byes to my favorites, putting off painful hugs that mean there’s so much time before another hug can happen. I’ve been at Dulles for an extra 3 hours (because Thomasons be paranoid about flights), just waiting to leave again.

All these politics in the U.S. and the U.K. about “immigrants” make me uneasy. Mom said it best:

Mom: Why did they vote to leave the EU?
Me: Because they don’t want immigrants in their country.
Mom: Then why did they conquer the world?

It’s weird to be an immigrant (especially as an indigenous person); but I remember learning in second grade some very important vocabulary. An immigrant is someone who has arrived in a country. An emigrant is someone who has left. It’s rooted in location and in perspective. People have asked if I love England, is it so very different? I don’t know. I still feel like I live here; I only feel like I’m leaving.

I’m hoping that when I land at 7:40 AM London time/ 2:40 AM east coast time/ 11:40 PM Pacific time that I will feel arrived. I have no idea what kind of job I’ll get. I know I’ll be painting. I know I am exhausted and that all of my words for the year have been used up–so I will post about my travels in the States in photos soon. For now, I just want to paint in my studio silently and hang out with David and Zeke dog.

Even so, I will miss this humidity in a weird way–it feels full like I am when I see Virginia. I will miss the fog tsunami that rolls into San Francisco. I will miss the golden light in Oakland and the hard-won battles for my students’ growth. I’ll always be a Virginian emigrant, but that means I’m deeply rooted here and nothing can take that away. Hopefully I’ll make roots enough in London to be sad to leave there as well.

I’m here to teach your children, America.

Or young adults, I suppose. I find myself here in the Bay again! Hello, tacos! Hello, sunshine!

Right now I am procrastinating. I really do need to finalize my syllabi.

I am so thrilled to be here to teach another session of Pre-College at California College of the Arts. It’s 4 week studio intensive courses for high school students to earn a few college credits and to see if art school is the right fit for them. I taught last year and truly loved it. I’ll be on CCA’s Oakland campus, teaching drawing in the morning and a painting/drawing hybrid class in the afternoon. Class starts on Monday!

I arrived late Tuesday night into San Francisco International. I actually experienced a full 24 hours of daylight being so close to the summer solstice and with the 8 hour time time difference. The sun rose in London around 4:45 AM, and I was traveling while it set on the west coast around 9 PM (or 5 AM London time).

Heathrow Leah, patron saint of international travel and homesickness

Continue reading “I’m here to teach your children, America.”

Bread & couches from the sky

I love yeast. It makes bread, and it makes beer. We have come from San Francisco, a land where its sourdough yeast is famous. There is also a San Francisco lager yeast to make what’s known as a California common beer, a lager-ale hybrid. Both of these yeasts may be the only truly indigenous yeasts to the U.S. We’ve been making beer with San Francisco lager almost since we first began. We learned how to make bread in 2014, and our sourdough starter is still here (in some form). Continue reading “Bread & couches from the sky”

Settling in

Moving in commenced on Friday! We were able to get keys, inventory the house, and receive all the boxes by 1 pm. Or 8 am EDT. Or 5 am PDT. Leah stayed and unpacked while David was able to go into the office for a half day.

We love our flat more and more as we settle in. Instead of Memorial weekend, we had a bank holiday here, so we got a lot done. We take breaks to eat on our tiny balcony and truly enjoy using our own plates. It has been challenging for Leah to rest because she/I just wants to be settled finally and is anxious to finish unpacking. David is busy trying to find us a free wardrobe for our closet-less bedroom.

After 7 different beds these last couple of months, it is wonderful to sleep in our own.

Some ‘before’ photos from Friday…

In progress…

And where we are today, Sunday…

So we celebrated with a walk.

The walkway above the train tracks. Sunset isn’t until nearly 10 pm.

A new tent! (We have a flat!)

We’ve signed a lease! On Friday, May 27th, exactly one month after arriving in London, we’ll take our suitcases and Zeke to Nether Street in Finchley, an area in North London. It’s helping me to think of all of these places we are living as tents. It reminds me that nothing is permanent. Being in flux is more or less a constant state, but I can still find ways to feel at “home.”

Our new flat on Nether Street. The property is split into four units. We're on top on the left!
Our new flat on Nether Street. The property is split into three units. We’re on top on the left with the red brick!

That’s N3 for all you zip code people. Zip codes or “post codes” in London are two parts. Our temporary apartment is at EC1V 2PW. The first part is the area you’re in, so we’re in a certain part of east central London. The second part refers to your specific address. So, your whole address is really just in the post code here, which I find beautifully organized. Hello, N3! I hope we can be friends.

It’s a two bedroom apartment, so I have a room for a studio while I figure out a job and start building my network anew. The entire house has really beautiful light. We love that the kitchen opens up into the living room (or “reception area” as they call it here). Many UK kitchens are small rooms with doors, closed off from the rest of the house. Our temporary apartment is like that, and it feels challenging for us especially since we like to cook together. Our new kitchen will be perfect for brewing beer!

While many UK places are furnished, ours is not. We’re kind of in the middle when it comes to furniture. We have a bed, a love seat for the living room, and an assortment of dressers. We’ll be on the hunt for a kitchen table and chairs, and I’ve got my eye on an Ikea couch that will pull out for friends! Yard sales (or whatever they call them), here we come.

We’re close to a lot of trails and open park areas, which will be perfect for Zeke and for running. It’s more suburban where we will be living and feels quiet, but I can still escape into the woods. Lover’s Walk goes to the trails, but also to the high street (what they call the main thorough way). We even have our choices of tube stations. We’re about a 5 minute walk from either the West Finchley or Finchley Central stations. David will have a 25 minute commute to work including the walk.

Our new place is at the top of our budget, which feels scary. We are getting a great place, and it’s one where we feel like we can use to welcome friends and grow ourselves. I keep imagining having people in our living room for get-togethers. I can see myself painting in the extra room, and the long hallways will give my work good wall homes. I’ll have no excuse to hermit away as the tube stations are so close. I’ll be able to run–the trail near us is 10 miles long, the perfect length for that 20 mile final, long run for marathon training. This seems like a good tent for now.

I’ll post photos of the inside later, once we’ve moved in!