Thursday, May 24, 2012

The Return List

One of the first posts I ever made in this blog was called The List, and it was quite literally the list of some of the big-ticket items (sell car, rent condo..) that I had to take care of prior to my move to the UK.  Well, it goes without saying that as we prepare to return to the US, Version 2 of "The List" is in full swing.
I've come a long way from scratching out things on a piece of paper to keeping a full blown spreadsheet with color coded columns:

The Return List

This is but a small fraction of everything that needs to be done, and I haven't quite gone in to full-blown detail ('final utility bills' instead of separate line items for electricity, gas, and water...), but I am nonetheless surprised at how shockingly different The Lists are from one country move to the other.  Yes, there are some similarities, but not as many as I would have expected for the same general experience.

My only hope is we're able to stay on top of everything.  I'm trying hard not to get too stressed over all of it (my mantra: 'it will get done'), and in particular, trying not to let Simon get too stressed, as he's also got his Dad's estate to deal with-he's the executor.  It will happen-goodness knows how bad it was when I came here-but I'm hoping that it won't be as bad, or last for as long.

The glass is always half full, right?

Sunday, May 13, 2012

It Was the Best of Times, It Was the Worst of Times...

I'm sitting at work today-it's a Sunday-to get some work done, and some life admin done, as the past two weeks have been absolutely crazy.  I know people (myself included) overuse that phrase to describe their life, but in this case, the past two weeks are a real reflection of that sentiment.

It Was the Best of Times...
Sunday, April 29th, Simon and I took a big step in the direction of getting ourselves back to the US.  I've been really quiet about this topic the past few months, and it's time to let the cat out of the bag on everything related to this, as I have a feeling this will become a large topic of focus in our lives for the next several months.
On that Sunday, we booked our one-way tickets from London to the US (Charlotte, NC to be specific) for a July 2 departure-just 2 days before July 4; Independence Day.  Seems fitting. :)
We'll fly in to Charlotte, and spend a week or so visiting my father, catching up with friends, *buying a car* (oh, that little detail), and then head to the beach-the NC/SC beaches are just some of the best in the US in my humble opinion, and I've talked to Simon about them for ages-it's time he gets to experience it first hand.  From there, we'll take ~4-5 weeks and drive cross country and up to Seattle for our final destination.  I still have my condo in Seattle, so we'll stay there until we either get jobs in Seattle-or up sticks and move to San Francisco (plan B).  I'll bore everyone with the details on the job search later, and our travel plans-once we know what they are...but, that's the gist.

Then, Monday, April 30th was our First Anniversary as a married couple.  I can't believe it's been a year already!  It's been an incredible year, and if it's anything to go by, I look forward to the next 50 years with Simon as well.  We splurged with a 7-course tasting menu (wine with each course) at Le Gavroche, and oh what an experience that was!  We ate and drank so well (the best was the cheese souffle), and it is now surely a top-3 meal for me in London.  I will remember that night-and the hangover the next day-for some time to come.  It was a truly special experience.

It Was the Worst of Times...
Wednesday, May 2nd however is where life decided it was time to remind you how fickle it can be: Simon's Dad passed away.  He had not been a well man the entire time I've known him (3 heart attacks, numerous angina attacks, and more trips to the hospital than I can genuinely remember), and he was in the hospital when he passed away, but it was-and still is-a shock to the system.  I was in Dublin when Simon phoned my mobile at ~11am.  As soon as I saw the call, I knew exactly why he was calling: it's just one of those things you know.
We spent last weekend at Simon's Dad's house taking care of 'admin' along with Simon's brother & sister.  Simon heads back up today to have a meeting with the church vicar on Monday, and then the funeral is planned for May 18.
Simon is the executor of the will, so the past week has also been intense in beginning the paper chase to settle the estate.  I've tried to help where I can with phone calls to various companies to request paperwork to wrap up this account or that account, but there still seems to be a fair bit to do-and I think we're both feeling overwhelmed at the admin-both for his father's estate, and as we try to wrap up our lives here.

The silver lining to all of this (I am trying to stay positive...), is that it has meant he's been able to spend some good time with his brother & sister-and, Simon doesn't leave the country with the burden of his father's health hanging on him.  It sounds horrible to say-but it is the hard truth. Simon even recognizes that when he was to last see his dad in June before we leave could quite possibly have been the last time he saw him alive.   And, once we land in the US, Simon can't leave the country for 6 months (part of the conditional visa/green card process).  I couldn't bear the thought of Simon arriving in the US, and then not being able to return if he had to for his Dad.

What has been incredibly surprising to me (I disclose this in trying to keep with the true spirit of this blog), is the lack of difference in general approach/admin/details that seem to exist between the US and the UK on the topic of death and funerals.  It all seems incredibly familiar to me-the process-and I'm very surprised, given how different other common things (renting a flat, for example) have been.

Where the US and UK do diverge on this concept however is in price.  Before Simon spoke to the funeral director about the pricing for everything, I told him that I recall my mother's funeral expenses (all in) ran about $10k-and that was a fairly standard price.  Given how typically expensive everything in the UK is, we were bracing our selves for a £10k price tag (or ~$15k).  Surprisingly, the entire cost for the funeral will barely run £2k.  Everything (coffin, flowers, funeral home...everything) is so much less than what it is in the US.  Go figure.

Well, that's it for now.  There's so much to do in the next week-and subsequent weeks-that I actually need to get moving.  I will try to update a bit more regularly over the next few weeks about well, everything.  It's been a crazy few weeks, and it isn't stopping any time soon!