As of two weeks ago, my father has an entire album of videos consisting of either myself or Felix being surprised (and one of Rita mauling my father after not seeing him for over two weeks).
In my last few months before leaving England, I kept saying that I had made a mistake: March is probably the worst time of the entire year to leave England behind. You see, as much as I enjoyed complaining about British weather, the good thing is that you really learn to see the bright side, so to speak.
For example, there may not be many nice weekends in the summer, but when they arrive, you’re out at terraced bars, in the park with a bottle of wine, or at a barbecue. In the fall, things get cold and pretty (not quite New England pretty, but close enough). And then comes Christmastime, which England does surprisingly well: there’s no snow, but there are markets and mulled wine and lights all over the streets, and the companies here throw excellent Christmas parties (i.e.: drank champagne on the staircase from the Spice Girls’ ‘Wannabe’ video).
Right after Christmas is the right time to leave. England in January and February is a unique type of misery – you’ve run out of vacation days for the financial year, but the sun is going down at like 3:45 PM and you’re waking up in the dark. It sucks. The ideal thing to do (when moving out of the UK) is to go home for Christmas and just never go back.
Of course, I didn’t do that. I stuck it out through January and February, and even a little bit of March. And then I left. To Southeast Asia, mind you, where my legs stuck together from sweat and I could only stomach a mango smoothie for breakfast, but still – mid-March is that point in England when you start to remember that the sun actually does exist (so I’ve been told) and you get these teasing hints of what might be coming in the summer (‘might’ being the operative word).
This very long and winding prose about the British year in weather is leading the story of how untrustworthy my parents are. At some point, over a few beers and a Korean barbecue, Felix’s friend suggested that I tell him I wouldn’t be going to his graduation (cruel) and then actually show up and surprise him (very cruel). This would also be the first time we would have seen each other since Christmas.
Excellent plan. Went without a hitch. My parents knew about it, and dad and I flew to London from Denver, showed up in Cambridge, and Felix made a weird sound and a funny face as he realized that I was not, in fact, asleep in Colorado, but jet-lagged, caffeinated, and very much awake, right in front of him.
What I didn’t realize before all of this was that my parents had double-crossed me. After all of this had been arrange (had flights from Denver to London, had hotels, etc), my parents had emailed Felix to invite him to come surprise me when I came home from Thailand. So really, Felix got to surprise me for the first time we saw each other after Christmas. And my parents knew about and arranged both of these things. So in my father’s words, I will never trust either of them again.
The thing with the weather didn’t really come through, but the point is that I was happy to be back in Cambridge for a particularly beautiful weekend in April. So now you that you should always move after Christmas and that my parents are sneaky, sneaky people.