So yes, Thanksgiving 2010 came and went. It was different this time. Different from 2009 and 2008 – the previous times I’d attended – and according to Crazy Yank, it was different from every other time because this time (this is the last time I say time) he hired out the local boat house.
I recall him considering hiring out the boat house in 2008 but he finally took the plunge two years later and it felt much more like an event for it. Big chairs, rich wooden floors, stunning River Thames views. We still ran out of seats but then again, with the new venue came many more guests. I was also pleased to see Crazy Yank’s full-size Obama cardboard cut out make a comeback from his surprise birthday party in September (I might upload a photo of me and said grinning Obama in the near future. He’s very funny.)
So arriving for my third, and my boyfriend’s second Thanksgiving, we placed our booze in the corner and I gave Crazy Yank some flowers as he gave me the obligatory kiss on each cheek. The usual faces were scattered across the two rooms. Slish was there with her group of friends (boys a new addition to the proceedings) and Wonder Boy, after his first term at university, was charactertistically cool, calm and collected. The spread looked even more impressive on a big table. Seriously. I couldn’t even fit all the food in the photo so here’s a very big photo of some of it instead:
(And yes, I believe those are pilgrim salt and pepper pots.)
Post-food, there was the usual drinking, dancing and displeased DJs trying to maintain control of the Crazy Yank’s super cheesy ‘good times’ playlists (Motown proved triumphant as always) and soon enough, it was time to say goodbye and leg it for the last train after lots of fun, as always. The venue might have been different but Crazy Yank had nothing to worry about on the night. Thankfully.
It was a Wednesday afternoon the day I moved to Chiswick. It should have been the day before but I hadn’t finished packing. Henry was the only person in the house when Crazy Yank’s Jeep arrived. In between helping me take my combination of suitcase and Duty Free bags (full of my life, not airport frivolities), Henry said: ‘Good luck with Sharky,’ half-grimacing, half-laughing. He gave me a hug. Said something like ‘See you soon’ and I was out of the door. He stood on the doorstep with the same awkward expression that had accompanied our first meeting in the hallway. I put my hand up to gesture a wave but didn’t quite manage it as we drove off.
‘Living with us is going to be easy,’ Crazy Yank began. ‘It’s going to be fun. I mean, it’s a really fun house. I want you to feel at home. Act like it’s your home. We’re easy-going, y’know.’ He repeated these sentiments a few times for the next 10 minutes of the journey (and especially while we were stuck in traffic on the Chiswick Bridge) and yet again before we pulled up at the house.
We dumped my suitcase and Duty Free bags in my room. He went back to his office on the second floor. I stared at the suitcase, the Duty Free bags and this room that had been both a garage and home cinema. The carpeted two-step runway in the middle of the room was a reminder of its former celluloid life. It was a massive space, with an adjoining shower and laundry room. It had plenty of ceiling lights but no windows, which made it feel a bit like a garage. I didn’t bother unpacking that day (or properly until about a year later if that) because I planned to move out two months later to live with a friend from university. In just eight weeks, I’d be living with someone my own age again and my bedroom would have windows. Or so I thought.
This is where the real story begins. And welcome to the start of your education on surviving life as a lowly lodger (plus how to guess the weather to match your wardrobe and prevent the premature onset of rickets through lack of vitamin D caused by no windows for nearly 14 months, of course…)