Oreos, peanut butter...it was taking it's toll. We were basically running out of everything. Especially confidence.
Dee had finished his class work and was beginning his dissertation. He had to write a document of a few hundred pages, longhand, in our freezing cold bedroom, next to the drafty window in order to have a little light. Forty watts doesn't cut it during a drab and dreary Yorkshire winter, where it gets dark at 3:30 in the afternoon. He wore the requisite cardi (cardigan sweater) over his sweater vest, as well as fingerless gloves. It was a scene out of Dr. Zhivago.
The hot air was leaking out of our balloon and we were starting to feel adrift. Remember all those meddlesome folks who thought we were nuts? What if they were right? Was it just the weather that was giving us cold feet? It wasn't like we had a plan. Dee was now capable of restoring stained glass windows in medieval cathedrals, and replicating mortar from the 13th century, but there wasn't much call for that in SLC. What had we been thinking? Starting over in a different country and culture was bold and daring. Starting over again a year later in front of everyone we knew could be embarrassing and foolish.
I don't know about England, but here neighborhoods seem to have similar types of people. There's the organizer, the busybody, the bring-everybody-cookies lady, the know-it-all, the too-good-for-the-rest-of-you, and the helpful gardener with all the tools. Hermie (I've changed his name) was the odd-man-out. He was brilliant, which made him hard to relate to. His wife was nice, but she had some kookier elements about her, too. Hermie had come to blows with another guy on the block over which of their sons had won the Pinewood Derby. It was ridiculous and his reputation didn't have far to fall after that.
Anyway, one Sunday afternoon we were sitting on our bed in York, and the phone rang, which was extremely unusual. I answered and it was Hermie! He was wondering how we were doing, and wanted to tell us what great neighbors we had always been. (Luckily, we were hypocrites, so he didn't know what we really thought.) He was so friendly, and nice. We talked for a while and he said he had sent us something in the mail and wondered if we'd received it. We thought back, mentally thumbing through our Christmas cards from three months before and said we didn't think so. He told us to watch for it, and said goodbye. How thoughtful! That call was just the encouragement we needed, we told each other. What a nice guy. A few days later we got his envelope. Inside was a check for $1,000!!! He had written a lovely letter saying he hoped this would come in handy, and that he admired our nerve. Please spend it with the pleasure he got from sending it. Dee has a phrase for this kind of event: "How does your crow taste?"
A few weeks later, a good friend from home wrote to say she had always loved my diamond ring, and would I consider selling it to her. She had admired it before, but who asks a question like that? It was so unexpected, yet perfectly timed! We had mutual friends who were coming to visit us, and she sent a check with them. I packaged my ring carefully in a tube of Smarties (M & M's) so there wouldn't be a problem with customs, and they took it home to her. This infusion of cash was just what we needed.
Dee was contacted by a professor who needed some research done for a book. That became an insightful and amazing project, that ended up to be life changing. A couple of times a week throughout the spring and summer we followed old maps in search of 19th century mills, barns, churches, homes and other ruins. We explored parts of Wales, the Cotswolds, Worcestershire, and Cheshire and got familiar with back roads covered by hedgerows. Most of the time these were day trips while the kids were in school, and other times we took them along. We read local histories and journals written during the period, and followed the paths they described from the 1800's. The stories were fascinating and the people came alive to us. Slowly it dawned on Dee that this was what he wanted to do: chronicle the lives of everyday folks, document how they rose to the challenges they faced, and place these events in historic perspective. Coupled with his love for photography, it seemed like a plan! Our enthusiasm and anticipation came rushing back.
everything, and we discovered what was really important. It was worth it.
His platoon was running in formation when Dee had an asthma attack. Suddenly he couldn't catch his breath and he was starting to lag behind, slowing the whole group. His arms were bent and the two guys on either side of him (who were both taller than Dee) lifted him from under his elbows, and carried him the rest of the way. Dee compares the kids rallying around us and supporting our dream to those two soldiers. They ran in formation, lifted us up and made sure we finished the run.