Bella Bryce's latest blog posts
Where do I begin? I'm sure if you asked Maria, she would say, 'let's start at the very beginning, a very good place to start.' However, I can be stubborn (nothing a firm hand won't sort out) and I prefer to start at the ending. Today, in fact.
Wait. The ending begins with yesterday. We returned from England yesterday, after being there for three weeks.
Just a bit of background to this post . . . my husband and I moved to the mid-Atlantic region of America in April 2013 because of his job. He knows I will support him in any (good, healthy, genuine) opportunity that comes up personally or professionally. I even wrote that into my marriage vows to him. But, I still didn't want to move here. I also felt my feelings were irrelevent - because I knew this was the right thing for us. It was an opportunity someone at 27 just couldn't pass up. He wanted it, and I love him, so that made it a very easy decision!
Neither of us could believe it has already been 15 months since we left England, when we walked through the doors of the restaurant in Kent where we met about twenty five friends and family members who were all waiting to see us. Our plane was delayed twice the day before and so instead of having an entire day to rest, we walked in for lunch not having slept in about thirty hours. I was going on pure adrenaline and had countless cuddles and kisses to hand out. No tears. I was too tired for tears. It was fantastic to see 'everyone' (of course, not 'everyone' could make it that day).
I had planned to write at least three days a week and/or each evening. If you've looked at my Bella's Workload page you'll see that I should really have finished book V of the Waldorf Manor series by now! Didn't happen. I really had no time to write (I'm okay with that. People are more important than book sales), and a big sarcastic 'thanks' for a serious fault on Delta's end whereby they downgraded our seats to London, even though all the money was paid for premium seating (two women from Delat named Theresa and Jamie need a thrashing), there were no outlets on the plane where we were, hence, no work. My husband suggested I bill Delta for the 8 hours I lost on the plane. I giggled. Then I told him I couldn't. But now I want to.
We had three weeks full of dinners, lunches, coffee dates, sleepovers, catching up, downloading, meeting and absolutely no privacy. And we enjoyed every moment of being cuddled, spoiled, fed (please stop. Too much cake.) and getting filled up with love by people who truly care about us and our holistic growth. My husband worked Monday - Friday the entire three weeks as if we still lived there. We had dinner dates every night (aside from two) and there was a lot of necessary conversations. Lots of questions, lots of reflecting on the past fifteen months of living in the US. My husband didn't get to see many of our friends, though, and so I passed on his regards. I started my laptop twice and only managed 300 words in the time we were away, although my iPhone was glued to my hand. Without it, I wouldn't have been able to email or text or arrange any kind of meetings. Even then, there is still one girl I didn't get to catch up with! Otherwise, I (and sometimes, we) managed to revisit some of our favourite things in Kent: like the West gate gardens, the Dane John, walking the streets of Canterbury, my favourite shops like Debenhams, Cath Kidston, Aspinal of London, County Clothes, James Pringle Weaver, Lakeland, Noa Noa, Jaegar, United Colours of Benetton. Coffee was free flowing at Costa and Nero, of course. Just as I remembered it. I visited my old office where I worked. It was strange to walk the halls of a place I worked for several years where everything seemed the same, yet I felt different. It was almost as though I had moved on but nothing else had. I didn't like it. I wanted to sit back in my old desk, with my old team in Creative Comms and just pick up where I'd left off last March.
There was also a pivitol moment when I shared about my writing. With several people at one time. At dinner. They were my husband's colleagues. And I don't regret it. In fact, I rather found several of them amused at my diplomatic explanation of my writing. Also, Waldorf Manor is my only current work, so it's the only writing I was really talking about. Let's put it this way - the best way to describe beyond my brief explanation of the genre was, 'you'll get it when you read it' :)
I had afternoon tea at The Savoy twice, which was two-fold. First, because it's my idea of a perfect afternoon, and also, for research. I write about The Savoy more extensively in book V and being there fifteen months after my first stay was what I needed to help remind me of the atmosphere, the furnishings, the sounds, the smells, the way one feels when they walk into the Thames Foyer. I can't make that up. It's a very sensory experience anyway, and it's one place I feel completely comfortable. It usually makes other people uncomfortable because you never pour your own tea, or really lift a finger. I like being able to back off and let them open doors, pour tea, carry luggage, plop pillows.
We also stayed at The Savoy the night before we flew out of London - it was the first opportunity husband had to relax and then the next morning we were on a plane. Staying at The Savoy is like coming home. Bella's idea of home, anyway. A lot of people in their ignorance just assume that The Savoy is 'posh' or 'snobby', when in reality, one pays for it knowing their service is impeccable. When the taxi pulled up, the doormen opened both of our doors. I knew not to reach for the handle. The foyer manager personally greeted us and showed us down to the Thames Foyer where he handed us off to a hostess to seat us for tea. His name was Morris. He was new, because he wasn't the one greeting guests in the foyer last year. And good thing too, because when we stayed last year the man greeting guests in the foyer was arrogant and rude. I liked Morris better. During tea, husband and I spent two hours chatting, reacquainting ourselves with each other. We hadn't had a private conversation uninterrupted in nearly 21 days by that point!!! He wore new trousers, a shirt, new gorgeous shoes and a jacket he'd gotten a few days earlier. I love him in new clothes. He wears a jacket and trousers so well, it makes me giggle. He charmed me with things he whispered into my ear and he kissed me on the cheek several times. I was too busy falling in love with my husband all over again to realise the people at the adjacent table watching us. Until I did. Also, I'm pretty sure I looked like I was robbed from the cradle in my pink French Connection UK (FCUK) lace dress and black flats with matching cardigan, feet dangling above the floor. I was totally blushing as Thomas unashamedly kissed my cheek. He's very romantic. I'm very aware of people watching, and I don't like to express my adoration in public. Or at home, really. I'm not good at it. Yet, as the grand piano played and conversation buzzed as everyone else was also enjoying afternoon tea I eventually lost myself in having his full attention. This is not poetic, by the way. It's what really happened. Oh, and our teacups never were empty for long. We also had a waiter who was only eight days into his training and knew when I wanted more tea because apparently there was a certain look in my eye - or so he said. We ate all three courses, although I could barely finish the third. I also stole the waiter's thunder by politely asking if I could name the cakes on course 2. He let me. I got some of them wrong, but he humoured me anyway. It was because I'd been there the week before with my friend and memorised them. It isn't difficult to remember mango-filled chocolate eclairs and green tea mousse truffles atop shortbread!
If you look closely, you'll see the second plate is empty. Looks like you don't get any. Sorry.
Lateness doesn't deserve sandwiches!!
The most frequent questions we received on this business trip (besides, 'how is life in America?') was, "does it feel strange to be back?"
Does going home ever feel strange? I hope not. Yet, I say, home is where the heart is, and my heart is wherever my marriage is. Thomas and I are so intricately woven into each others annoying habits and delightful charms and quirks that we can be home anywhere. Wherever life takes us, as long as the two of us aren't separated, we are home. We have lived in a single room for five months before leaving England last year and sold most of our things in order to downsize. We had a massive Chesterfield leather sofa, matching chair, a queen bed and a load of candles, lamps and vintage books in a tiny bedroom. It was fantastic. That was home. It was home because Thomas and I were in this whole transatlantic moving thing together. If at some point we find ourselves living in squalor (I hope not!) or in great wealth, in a flat or in our very own Waldorf Manor - no matter which country or county or province - that is home.
That being said, England is also, still, where our hearts are too :)
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