(Originally published 21st March 2013)
Something strange keeps happening to the gravity over here. I was at work today and handfuls of the free teabags they leave out for staff to enjoy in the office somehow fell into my bag. The same thing happened with quite a lot of plastic cutlery in the canteen, too. It’s not like the flimsy plastic cutlery you sometimes get, it’s good quality gear, even though it’s technically disposable. Its only problem is that it’s prone to the same freak gravity issue that means that some of it just seems to have fallen into my handbag. I’ve noticed a similar thing happen to a handful of drawing pins. In fact, that was extra-complicated, because a good couple of handfuls of those actually fell into an envelope on the way to falling into my bag… It’s all very mysterious.*
*I’ll be honest, this is a lie. It’s not like I haven’t been tempted, but I’m too pretty to go to prison. Oh no, wait, I’m just too wussy for a life of crime. Either way, everything at the-company-that-must-not-be-named remains in it’s right and proper place. But, you know… They just leave this stuff lying around… One day someone’s going to to come along who isn’t as honest as me. It just makes no economic sense.
OK. I just have buyer’s guilt.
This weekend we moved into our apartments in New Jersey. Mine’s very lovely and I share with nice people, but I’ve had to buy a lot of stuff to make it start feeling home-y. Someone was saying that everyone needs to make their nest before they start feeling properly at home and comfortable in their new surroundings, and that’s exactly what I’ve been doing.
Almost as soon as we got off the bus in Newport, and dumped our bags into our empty bedrooms, people had to go and buy bedding. Which is fair enough, because nobody wants the scabby old sheets left behind by Smelly-Feet-Mcgee when he moved out of the flat. But the thing is, there is one shop nearby that sells it. Interns moved into apartments across a four block complex on Sunday, dumped their bags, and started oh-so-casually strolling towards this one shop, feeling quite smug about the fact that we were surely the first person to do so. Then, on the horizon, there’s a couple more interns, sauntering down the road. Then a couple more. And then, before you know it, you’re deeply engaged in one of those ‘I’m not racing you, honest’ powerwalking competitions where nobody wants to admit they’re vying to get there first but everyone definitely is. You know the kind. It starts off with a casual glance over the shoulder and ends up with an elbow to the eye and a door to the face.
Target is a giant shop and has full aisles of really nice bedding, but only a small amount of really cheap bed sets with everything one could need. It even contains a skirt. My bed is now better dressed than me. Anyway – the bedding aisle of Target ended up looking like the beginning of Saving Private Ryan. It was chaos. I’m not even exaggerated when I say there was a shop assistant there calling into a radio for backup. There were dismembered limbs and weeping passers-by. There were pillows everywhere and duvets all over the floor. Well, comforters. I’m all for Americans in general, but they cannot do a decent bedcover to save their life. A comforter is kind of like a duvets anaemic younger brother.
Which brings me to Monday, when it snowed. A lot. Well, enough that it quite possibly would have shut Britain down, anyway. But here they have these magical things called snowploughs and nothing stops for any weather. I get a boat, a bus, and a train to work every day and all of them were running fine. Anyway, I got home on Monday evening to discover that it was snowing. I discovered this as soon as I stepped foot off the jetty (that’s right, there’s a jetty involved in my commute. No biggy.) and onto dry land and got a shoeful of ice. So that meant going to Target again and, once I’d convinced them that I came in peace and nobody would have to die this time, buying some emergency wellies and a blanket. To be fair, I did get quite expensive versions of each, but I had no choice where the wellies were concerned and, well, the blanket is just a particularly kick-ass example of blanket-kind. I consider it a gift to future-Nicola who will be poverty stricken and poor. I’m sort of my own kindly benefactor. So that was big expenditure number two.
And then Tuesday it was food. This country is crazy in that so much food can be bought so cheaply, but it’s all so unhealthy. I decided I wasn’t going to stand for it any more and bought ingredients to make lunches and breakfasts and dinners myself and avoid the fact that people have to put cheese on everything. Don’t get me wrong, since I did that, I literally have not made dinner once. But the intention was there, and nobody can ever take that away from me. And I feel better just knowing that one day, when I’m feeling down, I’ll have the icy embrace of a packet of chicken breasts split into individual portions in sandwich bags in my freezer. And we’ll be happy. And then I’ll say ‘screw cooking’ and order something in. But still. It’s there. Like the world’s worst life raft.
So, nest-building. It’s an expensive business. But it’s probably worth it, and I’m getting there.