My eyes are heavy on the 11:34 to Peterborough, and I’m crammed between my suitcase and a teen-aged Brit and I feel sorry for him. I need a shower, a nap, some reassurance. I’ve just officially packed up and moved to England and everyone I love and everything I know is an ocean away.
I’ve planned this since last November. I had been working a short-term gig and needed something to come next. I’ve toyed with the idea of moving to the U.K. for a few years, and felt reasonably confident that I could could get this thing going over there — this work thing. I had connections, and thought I was a shoe-in.
I mentioned it in an off-hand way to my ex — we have kids together and I wasn’t going to leave the country without them. She is in a relationship with the VP of her London Office, and I thought that she’d like the idea. I was right. She was over the bloody moon. She texted me the next day to tell me that she had a fat offer waiting for her in that same London Office. Yeah, I know. This went from theory to reality within days. Shit got real. I endeavored to “cool her jets” by reminding her that it was just an idea, but she wasn’t having it. “I need you to commit to the U.K.” she said, and I dutifully, inexplicably agreed. I always cave. I’m not going to fucking talk about it.
I put all of my efforts into finding something. I knew where to look and who to talk to. I made it my job to find a job. In my head I feared a prolonged and nasty custody battle with my ex, who at this point made it clear that she was moving to the U.K. I couldn’t stomach the conflict, and in all honesty I have always wanted to raise my kids overseas anyway, but now the clock was ticking. She had a job, had started shopping for houses with her boyfriend, and I was still scrambling.
I won’t recount the conversations I had with the recruiters I knew, and the utter frustration at the lack of progress. It sucked, and I felt like some shit went awry. When things happened, they happened quick, and unexpectedly. I got a call from a dude in Germany who represented a company in the U.K. and wanted me to talk to his client. I got on the phone, and after about four rudimentary questions I had a job offer. The first thing I did was to call the ex and let her know. It was a go.
I’ve flown into Gatwick on my exploratory trips since January. It’s not the closest airport to where I’ll live and work, but after doing it once, I was comfortable with the plane to train routine. It meant a lengthy train ride from the airport to Kings Cross, where I hop on the Great Northern rail to Peterborough to grab my rental car. It’s a beautiful journey, especially the further north you go. After getting my rental, and bouncing off curbs and medians to get to the shabby brick hotel that will be my home until my house is ready, I was more than ready to sleep. Before I did, I googled the area I was in. I wanted to see where I could hike, explore, and find some peace until my kids would join me.
My search turned up Monk’s Wood, Archer’s Wood, and the Odd Quarter. The first two were easy enough to figure out. They’re medieval and British, and make perfect sense. The last? Well I don’t know. It is in fact a piece of property adjoining the not-quite-Bates-Hotel I am currently staying at, and there is no explanation for the name. Moreover, it’s private property, so there’s no option of finding out for myself.
But how perfect is this. The Odd Quarter. The name invites all kinds of images and definitions and I don’t think I want to settle on one. I feel like I’m well-suited for such a destination, or perhaps, I’ve never really existed outside of it. It fits for now and I love the mystery. I hope this will be one mystery of many that I share with my kids who love odd things. Let’s find all of the odd things.