Expect the Unexpected

Maggie O'Farrell

I’m currently reading Maggie O’Farrell’s book, I am, I am, I am. As you can see, it’s a memoir of 17 brushes with death, and I love it and hate it at the same time – which I didn’t think was possible in a book. I love her writing and each story has me captivated and often in tears. Yet, some of the content is disturbing and conjures up thoughts and images I’d rather avoid. I think parents are fundamentally fainthearted about the dangers that lie out there in the world. We invariably think about them all the time, but we don’t want the details thrown in our face to dwell upon. This is why there are certain headlines in the news that I read and think – nope, not reading that article. This book sort of throws them in your face, although it also makes you think about the near-misses in your life. Not huge tragedies, like surviving a plane crash, but that time you swam a little too far out in a rough sea, the time you got in a car with someone you didn’t know very well, or the many times in high school or college when you could have used better judgement.

This wasn’t meant to be a book review. Actually, I’m only about a third of the way through reading it. I mostly wanted to share this quote from the book:

…the things in life which don’t go to plan are usually more important, more formative, in the long run, than the things that do. You need to expect the unexpected, to embrace it.

This is my intro into sharing that we are currently looking for a new house. After almost seven years of renting three different homes in two different countries, this will be the first time we’ve been forced into a move. If we had our choice, we would stay. Our landlord said (pre-Brexit) that we could probably stay 5 years if we wanted to, so we didn’t expect his decision to sell. I don’t doubt that we’ll be able to find another house that will work for us. It’s the location that will be difficult to beat. Matea and I currently have a three minute walk to school and work, Dahlia has a six minute walk to school, Brett has a 5 minute walk to the train station. There are cafes, pubs, parks, the vet, hairdressers and dentists outside our door.

River Thames

River Thames

We have thought about buying, but aside from the fact that we don’t know how long we plan to live here, or what we really want to do with the next 5-10 years, housing is EXPENSIVE here! The shocking-kind-of-expensive that has you thinking…really? A terraced, 3-bedroom house (nothing fancy), with one bathroom, no closets, small kitchen and even smaller garden, for 1.2 million pounds? (That’s 1.6 million dollars, by the way.)

Yes, you pay for location. Short walks to school, work and amenities aside, we also have one of the best cities in the world practically on our doorstep, while still enjoying a leafy, riverfront, suburban-but-slightly-urban neighbourhood. That almost makes the outrages prices feel worth it. (Almost.)

After some frustration and sadness, I’ve decided that things like this happen for a reason. Ever the optimist and believer in fate, I like to believe that this is one of those blessings in disguise. It could potentially shake things up a bit, which could bring about even further change. Although, for the time being, we are keeping things simple and looking to rent a house in the same general area, and keeping the girls at the same schools.

That’s what happens when things don’t go according to plan – you don’t have time to think about a strategy. Sometimes I think about how life brings these surprises, these unexpected shifts that might have a huge impact on your life. As a parent, I used to get stressed out about that. Every decision we make is shaping our kids’ futures, just as my parents’ decisions shaped mine. I still marvel at the fact that I could have been raised in Peru, or England, or anywhere else in the world. My parents had no connection to the United States. My American accent sometimes feels like a sham, since my first words were in Spanish and my first English words were spoken surrounded by accents other than American. Isn’t life incredibly arbitrary and amazingly strange? Yet, we hold on to what we know. Because more precious than time, is who you spend it with; I read that somewhere recently. I’d like to add, that more precious than where you spend it, is how you spend it. We’ll focus on that and hopefully everything will fall into place.

7 thoughts on “Expect the Unexpected

  1. Trevor

    I wish you every good fortune in finding a suitable place close to where you are now so that you can continue your lives with as little upset as possible.

  2. Ali Walker

    Hi Mandy
    I hope things fall into place for you all and you find somewhere new to live that works as well for everyone. Unexpected is good even though it sometimes brings stresses with it. Ed’s job ends here at Easter and currently we have no idea what our next steps will be. The world is full of possibilities and opportunities. xx

  3. Kal

    Mandy – my heart is warmed by all that you said in this. Life is a conglomeration of so many things and choices. I’m thinking of the end of the movie “Parenthood” where Steve Martin equates his experience to being on a rollercoaster and he looks like he’s about to throw-up when he looks over at his wife and she’s just digging the whole ride. I trust that in 20/20 hindsight, this will all make sense. Thanks for the beautiful heartfelt sharing that you do through your pictures and writing. It’s a meaningful way to stay connected. Love to you and the family.

  4. Melinda

    Ah—this *is* exciting, and I get the mixed feelings. I am picturing fairy magic sprinkles on the path to your new home…And wishing we could visit for a cup of tea to discuss.

  5. Dan

    This was a very enjoyable read Mandy. Best of luck and I hope you find a situation that you can continue to get the most out of.


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