Of course, the Brits don’t celebrate Canadian Thanksgiving but we still found many ways to be convivial this past weekend. Saturday found us heading out the door as tourists again, hitting Oxford Street early in the morning to find a jacket for Allan and slippers for me, then wandering over to Chinatown for a bite and groceries before making our way to Leicester Square and then home. Saturday night however, we did something decidedly untouristy: we finally finished settling in. We’d been in our flat about three weeks by that point and despite chipping away at cleaning and unpacking, our living room was still not very functional. The biggest problem was that the floor was completely dominated by parts of an Ikea shelf that we had bought for about £10 and then been unable to assemble because we refused to pay another £8 to buy a wrench to put it together. After asking around for a week to various floormates for a wrench to borrow to no avail, Allan posted a Facebook message to our entire residence and within hours a nice man in another building offered us not one but three tools to put our shelf together.
It’s amazing how little it takes for a house to feel like a home, but it’s a very conspicuous feeling. With the shelf put together we could finally move it into the bedroom, organize our belongings onto it, clean out the rest of the living room and start actually living in that room. We also put up the hooks that we had finally been able to buy after days of them being out of stock and were able to hang up the clutter that had accumulated around the flat. And after three weeks of longing for comfy footwear I slid my feet into my new slippers and suddenly I was home.
On Sunday morning we accompanied our friends Jenn and Stephen and their little one Emma to a beautiful Anglican (very) High Church in London complete with robes, ringing bells, incense, and choral singing in Latin. During the announcement time the priest very solemnly told us that a congregation member had been visiting female prisons in Africa where the women had reported a serious need for clean undergarments and would we be able to donate to the cause? After the service we saw this by the door:
We spent the rest of Sunday eating Thanksgiving dinner with various groups of Canadians, including a residence-wide gathering during which time we were instructed to, groan, share about something we were thankful for. I mumbled something lame about not having to work this year and getting to be a student instead. But when Allan’s turn came up, he stood up and, to much cheering and clapping, announced that we had been married for just over a month. He shared that he was thankful that after months of planning and organizing and dreaming and waiting, that we were finally here and that we were settled.
There were many raised glasses and cries of “Hear hear!” but as Allan grinned and sat down we exchanged a look of understanding of just how deeply that comment went. I distinctly remember a conversation that Allan and I had last summer just a few months after we started dating where I had raised the then-far-fetched idea of studying in London and Allan joked about how awesome it would be if he moved to London and studied too. And for just a brief moment we were both overcome by excitement about that possibility before coming back to the reality of our still-fragile relationship and our firmly-established lives in Canada. That conversation happened just over a year ago but it’s been a long journey from then to here, with months spent figuring out where I would go to school, then getting engaged, Allan applying to school, Allan being accepted to school, sorting out students visas, wrapping up our jobs, planning a wedding, getting married and moving to London. At almost every step of the process there were doubts about whether things would work out as we hoped. It seems too good to be true but we are here, we are married, we are studying and the honey year has begun. We are thankful indeed.