How was your day yesterday? I hope it was happy because March 20th was apparently the International Day of Happiness. Considering the state of the world right now, we sure could have used a little more advertising on that one. I didn’t even hear about it until this morning. Like my birthday, which got extended thanks to having to pay tax on some of my presents before customs would release them, I have decided to prolong the IDH to at least cover the 21st of March, although I really think we need to consider a much more long-term celebration than a mere two days. Like how about every day?
For my part, I am marking this occasion by naming all of the things that are currently making me happy. I mean, not this very second, although I am enjoying a really nice spinach, Gruyere cheese and dried cranberry salad which is making my stomach happy, I mean things that have made me generally happy since I arrived in the UK four and half months ago. These are, by the way, in no particular order.
- Spring. Seasons don’t change in Florida or Southern California, so I’ve never watched them change before. Spring, I know, is going to be my favorite. The world is being reborn all around me. The trees are coming back to life, flowers are blooming everywhere, and the baby lambs are bouncing in the fields. Baby lambs are another thing that makes me happy. How can you not smile when you see one of them trying to run or wrestling with one of its friends or even just sleeping curled up next to its mother as if to say, “Being a lamb is hard!!” The first day of spring that you can leave your quilted parka at home is a happy day.
- New foods. I did a whole post on this, but I forgot to mention that I am developing a fondness for chutneys (both sweet and savory), bell peppers, courgettes (zucchini) and Branston pickle (spread on warm, buttered bread). I’ve even had scallops, gooseberries, lettuce with no dressing, cauliflower and mincemeat, all without choking. I’m no Anthony Bourdain just yet, but my palate is expanding.
- Skyping with my family and friends. Never has technology been so amazing. I am up to 6,000 miles away from everyone in love in America and I get to see and hear them for free!! Sure, it means I have to put on pants just to catch up with my mom, but it’s a small price to pay.
- Starbucks. If you live in a town with two or three or even a hundred coffee places, you can easily start to take your macciatos and frappuchinos for granted, but when you have to drive an hour for one, they taste better than you can imagine. What’s even better is when you spend the whole day in Starbucks, playing card games and people-watching with your husband and your new friends.
- Not having a phone. This isn’t technically true as I do have a phone, but it’s an old Blackberry of Paul’s that I can’t figure out how to use for anything other than making calls. Usually, it’s in my purse and it’s dead. The weird thing is that I don’t really miss being constantly connected to everything and everyone. Getting to my computer to check my email is back to being a big deal. Talking to my mother is a treat rather than something I do in Tesco while shopping for lettuce. It’s not like I really need a phone for its original purpose; no one in America calls me because it’s crazy expensive and everyone here just contacts Paul first. Right now, the appeal of a new phone lies only in my love of shiny objects, which isn’t really a reason to spend money on one.
- Cooking. This relates to the food thing above, but I am loving the hell out of cooking every night for myself and Paul and sometimes his parents and our friends. I am experimenting with new recipes, figuring out how to make my old comfort foods in a different country, and buying all the second-hand cookbooks that I can. My next step is to find the Mexican grocery store in London that promises to sell masa; I am dying for some real enchiladas.
- The stars. Rural Wales has no street lights and the nearest town is tiny with no real light pollution. On clear nights, I can see more stars in one blink of my eye than I have ever seen, even in Florida.
- Driving with Paul. Sure, it can be scary sometimes since he seems to consider most speed limit signs as mere suggestions, but I love our road trips to Shrewsbury, Builth Wells and even London. We talk about politics or current events or people who are currently pissing us off, we listen to music, he points out historical places or even just things that interest him, and sometimes we just sit in content silence, ’cause there’s no need to chatter.
- Silence. Along with no light pollution, there is also virtually no noise pollution out here. No cars, no ambulances, no helicopters, no noisy neighbors…just a few sheep and the occasional gust of wind. The first few nights were actually too quiet; I’d gotten so used to sleeping through police chases in L.A. and thunderstorms in Florida. Since then I have come to love the sound of nothing at night.
- Winter clothes. Okay, I know I just said not wearing my parka was a happy thing, but did I mention how cute I look in my parka? Seriously, I love my winter wardrobe. Boots and sweater dresses and scarves and hats, oh my! Best thing? I don’t have to have monthly pedicures since no one but my husband sees my toes (and even then it’s only when I am changing from shoes to slippers). Also, I love fascinators. I have two of them now, a pink one on a comb and a black and yellow one on a headband. They’re not winter specific, but they fall under clothing items I have acquired since moving, and I wanted to make this a nice round list at ten things.
I probably could go on, but those things can be saved for a rainy day. There are a lot of rainy days here. Surprisingly, that’s another thing that makes me happy.
What’s currently making you happy enough to do an awkward dance?