The Canadian, MomE and I disembarked at Southampton cruise terminal and were greeted with absolutely miserable weather -- gray, drizzling and damp cold. I almost turned around and commandeered the QM2 to sail back to Texas where it was a balmy 105 degrees. But, in the spirit of Keep Calm and Carry On, I took a deep breath and moved forward.
We arrived at the house the Canadian had found (I promise, there will be pics soon!) and it was my first time to see my new neighborhood and where I'd be living. I was incredibly quiet as I walked through the house and I think I gave the poor Canadian a heart attack because I didn't say a word. He was so worried I wouldn't like it and was nervous that maybe he had really done something wrong.
I just couldn't speak because I was thoroughly overwhelmed and was processing everything -- including the fact that I had just moved to London. The gloomy weather had dampened my mood and I had this feeling that maybe I'd made the wrong decision. Maybe we shouldn't have moved here. Maybe we'd made a mistake. I held back tears as I went room by room -- touching doors and windows, opening cabinets and seeing the rooms I'd live in for at least the next year. It wasn't so much that anything was wrong with the house or with London, but I felt pangs of loneliness for my friends back home, I missed the heat and sunshine, and everything seemed foreign and overwhelming.
The Canadian asked if I was ok and I said I was, and MomE just said "I think she's processing" and I said "I am."
I knew that I needed to do something to make the house my own. It felt so unfamiliar -- like some other person lived there (and the unattractive rental furniture didn't help). I felt like maybe I needed some flowers. As it turns out, I have a lovely, albeit small, garden. It's overgrown and unkempt, but thoroughly English and quaint. So I went outside, with some rental kitchen scissors, the rain drizzling down my face, and I just started clipping flowers in hopes of brightening the gloom...and then I saw it. A butterfly bush.
When I moved into my house in Austin, one of the first plants I planted in my garden was a butterfly bush. It grew like mad and after a year, a sweet family of cardinals moved in and hatched a few baby birds.
One night a horrendous thunderstorm swept through town and with it came a massive hailstorm. Normally when it rained I would check on the birds and would see the mama cardinal on the nest, wings spread out, protecting her babies. But this time she was off somewhere and I was worried that the hail would knock out or kill one of the babies.
So I convinced the Canadian (who was in his pajamas) to go out into the hail storm (unprotected) and hold an umbrella over the butterfly bush, to protect the babies (meanwhile getting pelted by the hail because the umbrella was over the bush). About 10 minutes later the storm passed and the babies were ok. A few weeks later, I watched as the mama and dad cardinals nudged their babies out of the nest, across my garden and into the woods behind my house. The next year the mama and dad cardinal returned to the butterfly bush and hatched another set of babies (no hailstorms this time) and I loved going out in the morning to check on my tiny family -- it made me feel as though I'd created a welcoming place where the birds felt safe.
I snipped three branches of the vibrant purple flowers, a bit of foxgl and some yellow foliage, brought them inside and put them in a glass pitcher I found -- and now forever, for me, the butterfly bush will remind me that home is where the butterfly bush is.