One of the nicest things about moving somewhere where you have family is learning all about your history. It's so wonderful to be welcomed with open arms by people you've only met a handful of times, and to gain so much knowledge about a family line you knew the least about. It's so painful to know that there will never be new stories about my parents and my brother, but to hear old stories that I never knew about them and their families is an incredible comfort and joy to me. It helps me keep them alive, and that is a rare and precious thing.
My dad moved from Canada to England for a year when he was a boy, and so my own move is in part a sort of pilgrimage for me.
But because I'm following in his footsteps, and I'm learning so many things about his side of the family that he himself might not have known... I'm having this intense longing to talk to him. I want to tell him about everything and everyone and hear more of his memories of his family here. I'm filling in gaps in my own knowledge, but with every gap I fill I become painfully aware of the ones that will never be filled - those of his perspective.
I can feel the pride and happiness in his voice about my being here. But I want so much to hear it, too. I miss him so much.
And I'm aching for a version of this stage of my life that includes them. I want my mom to have been horrified at the thought of my moving abroad, and I want my dad to have told her that his family would take good care of me and that I was used to living in a big city and that I'd be able to take care of myself. I want my mom to keep calling me, trying hard to sound excited for me but unable to hide how much she misses and worries for me. I want my dad to excitedly share memories of all of the places to go in London, seemingly unaware of the idea that places change a lot in over 50 years.
And I really, really want to go home for Christmas to five people, rather than two.
That version of my life seems so much more beautiful.