I recently took a deep dive into my heart. I changed my career. I left my friends and my home and everything that was familiar to me, and moved across the Atlantic. I arrived into my new country with a suitcase in one hand, my daughter’s hand in the other and my heart full of promise.
I spent the first couple of weeks living in hotels, looking for flats. 23 flats later, I had become completely exhausted and feelings of fear and anxiety began to creep in.
Even though my mother tongue is English, so many of my interactions left me feeling so incredibly alien and rather insecure. One such incident occurred with a discussion with my real estate agent.
“Whats your social?” She asked me.
“Uhm, I am not really active on social media” I responded, wondering why she would need this anyway. I got a hard stare.
“What-is-your-so-cial se-curity-num-ber,” she spat out, with an exaggerated eye roll and a condescending huff.
Further conversations were just as confusing.
She was constantly throwing acronyms in, around and out of sentences. I had to constantly ask for translations, which clearly exacerbated her and frustrated me.
On the last day of the month, my agents told me that there was nothing more on offer. I also did not have a credit history in this country, which made it even more difficult for any landlord to rent me a flat. An elderly lady whom I had met at the hotel, overheard the conversation and shard that she had just heard about a private listing.
I called the number listed, got a cab and headed over.
The minute I walked inside of the flat, my heart smiled, and my daughter took out her wallet, gave the landlady three coins, and proudly stated that, “We were taking this flat!”
I let the lady upfront know that I did not have a social security number, nor a credit score to prove that I would be a good tenant. We exchanged a few words and within a few minutes, I had a landed a home.
“I’m giving you all three keys, my new landlady said, smiling with a youthful giggle and a heart full of trust.
I most gratefully took the set of keys, placed them carefully into my pocket, headed back to the hotel to grab my bags and looked forward to sleeping in our new flat.
We sang during the entire cab ride, while the cab driver bopped his head to our rhythm.
When we reached in front of our new home, I skipped out, and reached for my keys. My fingers fumbled around and I didn’t hear a jingle.
I stopped singing and my heart stopped smiling.
I checked my left pocket. My right pocket, again. My bag. My other bag.
My recently-found excitement deflated and morphed into panic.
I called the cab and asked him to check his car.
“No, Mam. They are not here.”
I called him again and asked if he could take me back to the hotel.
We drove back and forth three times, after which point the taxi driver took off the meter. He looked at me pitifully through his rearview mirror, as tears made their way down my face.
On our fourth trip back to the hotel, the receptionist ran to me and handed me the lost keys, with a look of relief that mirrored mine.
I went to bed, as my feelings and thoughts took turns between fear towards this unknown chapter, and excitement towards this unknown chapter. ” Have I made the right decision? What if…? I woke up exhausted and famished, craving the taste..any taste of home…something familiar.
It was the knock at the door which took me away from my thoughts. I cracked it open and saw a gentleman, carrying a smile and holding a beautiful box, which he handed over to me.
“We live next door, and just made a batch of chocolate chip cookies to welcome you.”
An awkward moment of silence followed, because there was a huge fanfare party going on in my body, and no words could come out my mouth. I wanted to jump and scream and shout and cry, but I managed to hold myself back, with squinted eyes and a much-too-wide smile.
The chocolate chip cookies were the perfect texture with a thin, crispy exterior, and a beautifully chewy centre, sprinkled with sea salt.
They were the perfect welcome; The taste of home, for which I had craved. That was when I knew that things are going to be O.K., after all.