Hannah Drake

The Expat Diaries, Vol. 17

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It’s been a bit of an eventful two months! Firstly, I celebrated two years of living abroad on June 8th. It has seriously gone by so quickly, I can’t believe it. The second year has brought about new challenges and I was more homesick over that year than the first. Maybe it’s because I visited the States a few times, but it was definitely more difficult.

We had two house guests almost back-to-back. My mom came to visit at the end of May. I met her in London and we spent the day walking around the city. During her trip, we also visited Hampton Court Palace and Balsover Castle. It was so nice having her over again. I’m still trying to convince her to come stay with us if we buy a house so she can work her magic and she and Luke fix it up just how we want it. She’s seriously a home improvement genius!

A few weeks later, my Instagram friend turned real life friend Gennean came to visit. We met in London last summer and she mentioned she might be back across the pond this year so I told her to let me know if she needed a place to stay near Birmingham! Unfortunately she was there during our eleven days of no internet, which doesn’t exactly make things convenient for someone who works remotely, but it was great hosting her. It wasn’t as busy as my mom’s visit, which she said was exactly what she needed after a busy stay in London the weeks before. I’m so glad that it worked out that she was able to come visit. I’m so glad that neither of us will end up on one of our mutually favourite podcasts, My Favorite Murder, and I’m really excited for you all to hear the podcast episode we recorded about being an expat.

We got some new fosters, picking up a mom and her three kittens at the end of May. The kittens were only about four weeks old at the time and so tiny! Toward the end of June, we took the mom, Valkyrie, back to the cattery to go to a different foster home where she could adjust to life without her babies. The original plan was to keep all three kittens, Thor, Loki, and Hela, but Thor was refusing to eat dry food when it came time to separate him from his mom, so he had to go into one-on-one care for a while to learn how to eat and get better at using the litter box. He only needed a few days away, as it turned out. He came back the hungriest and greediest of all three. The best news is they’ve all three been adopted by the same family! And selfishly, we’re slightly happy that they’re without their mom now because they’re way more affectionate with us. (Though still a far cry from our lap cat, Jake.)

I was off last week for the Fourth of July due to my normal work schedule. It was kind of a boring day, especially after my planned cake was a total disaster and unassembleable. That evening, we went over to our friend Taylor’s house for a BBQ. We had potato salad, corn on the cob, sweet tea, lemonade, and apple pie. Everyone brought their own meat to grill in typical British BBQ fashion. It was a lovely evening to hang out with friends, but to be honest, I wasn’t feeling all that patriotic or up to celebrating America. Earlier in the day, before I had given up on my cake, I was listening to Pod Save America’s mail bag episode. It ended with the question “What gives you hope?” Host Jon Favreau—not the actor/director—suggested listening to Barack Obama’s 2015 speech in Selma, marking the 50th anniversary of Bloody Sunday. I sat down and read the speech from start to finish and even shared a few quotes on Instagram. It did give me hope and for a moment it took away my anger and my sadness about what is going on from coast to coast in my native country.

The next day, Luke and I finally joined a gym. It’s the first time I’ve belonged to a gym since living in England for 25 months. I’m hopeful that it will make a difference for me—and a good way for Luke to gently rehab his hip—because I’ve discovered that I can’t be held responsible for working out at home.