Monday, December 18, 2006


I had written some eloquent words in my head in the last weeks here in England upon reflection of my time here. Now, with just a couple hours before I need to get my bags to Vicki's and meet a few friends for a last meal before I head off early tomorrow, I'm at a loss for words. I'm still questioning frequently why I am even leaving England, but then realize again why with the excitement of seeing my family and my Midwestern Urban family over the next few weeks. It's still surreal it's over and just two short years ago (give or take) I was getting on the wrong busses and struggling to understand the Black Country accent. Wait! I still do that!

Professionally I think I have grown a great deal and have had some challenging cases that I may not otherwise had the opportunity to work with in the States, because there is no way I would work for direct child protection services there. I found I was able to use a lot of my skills toward strengthsbased and solution focused practice, while still balancing an improved skill to be direct with people and challenge their actions when kids were at risk. I had two of the best managers I think that probably work in the area and therefore was lucky to be on one of the best teams in general. In addition, I was lucky enough to meet some people through work that became my closest friends in this country.

Personally I think I have grown a lot, as cliche as that sounds, and although there are a few personal experiences and relationships I wished would have played out differently, I am leaving a happier and more confident person than I was when I arrived. I have had the chance to see and do loads, although there was never enough time to do it all.

I'll miss everyone that I have met through my work, travels, and personal experiences. I'll remember even the strangers who only crossed my path for a few hours or days with fond memories. I'll miss waiting for my second bus these last weeks and staring up at at a castle (albeit a bit of a shabby one). I'll miss little chat breaks with the gals at work. I'll miss greasy egg sandwiches. I'll miss the guys at CAIU and how they always made me feel relaxed in awkward cases. I'll miss cheesey Brit pop and dance music. I'll miss Sarah Hughes Darke Ruby. I'll miss Bathams. I'll miss The Robin Hood when it was still Max's pub. I'll miss Cottage Street and the little water bowl in the corner. I'll miss being driven around in Minis. I'll miss being able to take weekend trips to Nottingham, Liverpool, London, and elsewhere. I'll miss pub quizzes. I'll miss our little house and Brooksie. I'll miss pints of guinness with Tom & Tom. I'll miss dinners at Rachael's house. I'll miss wine nights at Jackie and Martyn's. I'll miss parties with Lesley and her posse. I'll miss the Big Chill. I'll miss Bri's laugh. I miss Rusty. I'll miss dancing more than I think I ever did before (I suppose I'll have to continue that now). I'll miss really good currys. I'll miss the local chippy. I'll miss gray winters. I'll miss the Welsh seaside. I'll miss Camden. I'll miss old English gentlemen that chat away to me at the bus stop. I'll miss hearing people call each other Bab, or talk about the baby (pronounced bAby), or saying Tara a bit. I could go on forever, there is so much more I will miss.

But don't worry! I hope to be back to visit soon!

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Farewell you Cheeky Monkeys

Today was my last day at work. I had gotten any casework left done Thursday so I was able to just hang about all day. We had a big lunch from the Chippy with everyone in the office and the Care Management and my team gave me an amazing collection of gifts. How am I going to pack all this stuff??? The highlight by far was a scrapbook put together with various reminders of events, our local sandwich shop and experiences, along with lots of lovely comments and farewell remarks. They even found a "cheeky monkey" to attach to it. I read the first page, which was the minutes from the first team meeting I ever attended and had to close it and save the rest to read alone at home. After saying goodbye to many people at work and having a lovely but emotional day, a few of us headed out for my last night out in Wolverhampton. Now, Wolvo is not the coolest place to go out and Cheeky Monkey's is definitely not the coolest bar or club I've ever been to, but it became iconic for the fun times we had there, often showing up at the end of the night and dancing our socks off. We started at the Little Civic, my favorite pub in Wolvo and Max and Marine also came out to wish me farewell. We got to Cheeky's I think earlier than I had ever been there before but the crowd of smarmy young men soon filled in the crowd . We danced our way away from them everytime they came near. It was a fun night, although I did cry when they played Like a Prayer (which I had asked the DJ to play about five times) because that's Nikki and I's "song."

Santa, his elves and a few of his reindeer even made an appearance at Cheeky Monkey's for my last Friday night in England.

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