FC: The BIG Move by Jenny Cowper
1: Copyright 2010 Printed in the USA Raleigh, NC Cowper Publishing Meredith College
3: The BIG Move by Jenny Cowper
4: My dad had news. BIG news. I'm talking family meeting big. Sit down, don't talk, hear-what-I'm-about-to-say news. Over my nine or so years on this earth I had been subjected to these little pow-wows on more than one occasion, but I could tell this one would be different And boy, was I right. Sitting knee-to-knee with my brother and sister on the couch in our cozy Stafford, England living room, I held my breath and waited for the bombshell. I got my bombshell alright. My dad leaned in close and explained gently that we were moving... to America!!
5: The reasons were all carefully lined out for us- better job, more money, bigger house, less travel... I was vaguely aware of these details whizzing in one ear and out the other as all I could focus on was the “America” part of the equation. I'd lived in the same house in the same small English town for my entire life! All of my friends and my school were within walking distance, and our extended family not much further. This was a huge change, and I knew I wasn't going to accept it over night.
6: In the months leading up to the move everything seemed to be in a whirlwind of change. We sold our house, the only house I had ever known, and moved in with my grandmother, Awree. The amount of space we had to spread out decreased dramatically and it seemed like the amount of arguments my siblings and I had increased ten-fold! It didn’t help that my mom and dad were gone for almost two weeks finalizing the building of our house in Charlotte, North Carolina. Poor Awree must have been ready to say “sayonara!” to the lot of us by the time the official moving date rolled around!
7: All too soon the boxes were packed and all of my worldly belongings were loaded onto a moving truck with the promise that they would be waiting for me in Charlotte when we arrived. You can imagine my nine-year-old terror when I heard my bicycle, dolls, and all books would be making the voyage solo- on a boat! Luckily for me I would be accompanying my family on a nine hour plane ride a few weeks later, instead.
8: The goodbyes were hard and the promises to write and stay in touch were made. I suddenly felt so confused. I was leaving behind everything that was familiar to me and making a move 3000 miles across the ocean. And yet, deep in my heart I was a little bit excited! Nervous-excited and still sad about leaving my friends and my family behind, but also intrigued about what I would find in this next chapter of my life. The photographs my parents brought back from their trip to Charlotte only piqued this interest, and although many tears were shed when the last suitcase was loaded, the trip the airport was strangely bittersweet. I started to think of the move as a new adventure instead of the end of my life as I knew it!
9: Phew, let me tell you. A trans-Atlantic move is hard work! We weren’t able to move into the new house right away because it wasn’t quite finished yet, and that meant we spent almost a month living in a hotel! It was set up like an apartment, but the idea of living in a hotel was still very strange to me. I loved that we were able to go to the hotel restaurant in the morning for omelets... at home our breakfasts had usually been comprised of cereal or toast! My mom loved the fact that she was off the hook for cooking.
10: It felt like all the time I had to explore my new surroundings was taken up by unpacking boxes and finding new homes for all my belongings. Compared to our house back in England the new house in Charlotte was huge! | My siblings Danielle and Matt and I relished the task of divvying up rooms and deciding what went where. Danielle got the biggest room, a perk of being the oldest. Matt and I were content to having rooms of our own though, and it wasn't long before everyone found his or her own place in the house. We still had to live in the hotel for a few more weeks until everything was settled into the house. However the excitement of a new house was somewhat over-shadowed though... by the impending first day at a new school.
11: Because we moved in February, I would be starting my third grade career smack-dab in the middle of everything. I was so nervous! I knew all of the other students would have had since August to get acquainted with one another and with our teacher, Ms. Alston. Even more unfair was the fact that many of them had been at Winding Springs Elementary since kindergarten. Talk about an unfair advantage!
12: Before my official first day I went with my parents and my brother and sister to meet with the school principal and my teacher. The task was a daunting one and I decided to wear my special tortoiseshell sandals with the mini-platform that I had begged my mom to buy me at Woolworth’s back home. Sure, they were uncomfortable and impractical, but I thought they looked edgy like Ginger Spice, and besides, my best friend in England, Lorna, had the exact same pair. Either way, I wore them my first time stepping into Winding Springs Elementary, perhaps as a sign of solidarity to England or perhaps out of pure 3rd grade hard-headedness.
13: The minute I stepped into Ms. Alston’s 3rd grade class she was there to sweep me into a big hug and present me with a teddy bear, a ritual that every student went through upon entering her class for the first time. Hmm, hugs and teddy bears... maybe this wouldn’t be so bad after all? However I also noticed the students in the class were collected into clumps, chatting and laughing in what were obviously already formed cliques. A wave of nervous terror rose in my chest as I clutched my bear a little tighter and I looked around for the comforting presence of my mom and family. I knew they wouldn’t be there the next time I entered the classroom, but for now it was nice to see a few familiar faces amongst all the newness.
14: Something must have alerted me early that the Spice Girls would be pivotal in my initiation into this new country and new chapter of my life. One of the first questions blurted at me (after “Do you have an English accent?!” naturally) was “Do you know the Spice Girls?” Although I felt obligated to answer this with the honest “no,” the fact that I came from the same country as the current hottest pop sensation seemed to be enough to win the hearts of this crowd.
15: I barely noticed as my parents went off to help Matt and Danielle acclimatized in their own classes, and instead turned my attention to the group of classmates that had suddenly huddled around me. The questions ranged from the mundane “What did you eat in England?” and "Do you drink tea?" to the absurd “You know the Queen, right?” but I felt a fizzle of excitement as I answered each one, knowing that I was well on my way to be accepted into this new society.
16: Before too long I had caught on to the ins and outs of Ms. Alston’s class. I knew where the best reading nook was, exactly how loud my voice could get before breaking out of being an inside voice and stretching into the frowned-upon outside voice category, and who my newly found friends were and who simply hung around to ask me to say things in my “funny” accent. I even met Megan who has been my best friend ever since. It wasn’t long before I realized that maybe this move wasn’t so scary after all. It was just my next adventure!
19: The End
21: About the Author: Jenny Cowper has been living in Charlotte, NC for eleven years now. She is studying Psychology with a K-6 teaching license at Meredith College. In her free time Jenny likes to ride her horse, watch movies, and hang out with her friends and family. Jenny also loves to read and is always on the search for another good book!