Monthly Archive: May 2014

Week 1: All about resignation

What a duplicitous word, ‘resignation’. Does it mean we have given ourselves up to fate, slumped back in our chairs to see what happens next? No! We are making the changes, and this week has seen the big one. My husband has handed in his resignation. (That kind of resignation.) He spent some time drafting the letter on his laptop, and I think quite a few years drafting it in his head. It was only when he felt himself finished that he showed it to me. It was two pages of A4, firm, clear, honest, passionately argued. I admit I didn’t realize how much he had been putting up with, and I was moved by it. And proud, too, of his honesty and clarity. I’d quite like to include the letter here, but I’d have to redact too much of it, and Husband probably wouldn’t allow it anyway.

Thunder clapped over London on the day he handed it in, matching the powerful beating of my heart.

There’s only one way to respond to a resignation letter like that. To accept it, graciously. And did they?

Yes, they did.

Irreversibility is setting in. That is to say, we could probably still put everything into reverse, but there’d be lots of sounding of hooters, expletives and red faces if we did.

The next two steps are:
a) selling our flat;
b) telling my in-laws what we’re up to.


Telling my lovely in-laws that their son has packed in His Brilliant Career that they are so proud of, and that we’re off to bake bread (their son) and edit books (daughter-in-law) in a country neither of us has spent more than ten days in, is our next big thing. Migration is not a theoretical topic for my in-laws. In the upheavals in Europe during and after the Second World War they migrated twice, involuntarily. Austria, their first port of call, would not make them citizens and, when the economy slowed down, stripped my father-in-law of his job to give it to a native. Germany gave them citizenship in the 1950s. The United States offered citizenship too; the Americans were generous to shattered Europe and its refugees. For my father-in-law the choice was made clear by his beautiful young bride-to-be: marry and stay, or go with his brothers to America and leave her behind. He chose to marry and stay. My parents-in-law have been happy in Germany, I’m glad to say. In a few days’ time we’re flying to Frankfurt to see them so we can tell them face to face what our plans are. It just wasn’t something we could do over the phone.


Prologue: to a story that has yet to happen

It can be difficult to pinpoint the exact moment a decision is made. The impulse is hardly felt, the impetus slowly grows, things start to be done. Small and large. Large is booking the flight to go to look at properties, then back at home instructing an agent to sell our flat. Small are the acts of tidying, sorting, organising, beginning to make it all possible.
Harder still is to explain why having loved London for thirty years, why having only months earlier completed the improvements to our flat that we had waited thirteen years to be able to afford to make, and having relished them for only weeks, we suddenly wanted out, both of us. Out of London, out of jobs (my husband’s; I’m a freelance and I shall keep on doing mine).
This is the beginning, and while nothing irreversible has taken place in reality, something irreversible has taken place in our hearts. In a matter of months, all being well, we will have sold our flat and moved into a house in the eastern Algarve, in southern Portugal. My husband will have given up his stressful but quite well paid job in publishing, and will be baking bread. I will support us through my work as a freelance editor, which I hope will survive the translocation intact. As it is, I have worked with people for years in the same city whom I have not yet met, so can it make much difference if I’m further away?
This will be the story, week by week, of how it all happens.

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