Thursday, 23 August 2012

While the gettin' is hot

EDIT: Please make sure you read the comments at the end of this post (if you get that far!). This really wasn't meant to be a piece with a negative focus, and I honestly am not picking anyone out in particular. I'm just writing about another aspect of expattery, and how I feel about missing people.

This is an odd post to write and I'm not sure whether it's the right thing to do, to write it out in public. That sounds dramatic - I promise it's nothing horrendous! I guess I should start by saying that this post is about observation, not accusation, and something that I've been reflecting on for some time now. It's part of human nature, and probably only taken me this long to come to writing about it because I'm just as guilty of it as anyone. It's also not something I see as an 'issue', as I accept that a) all people are different; b) I get things wrong all the time, so this post (and any of my thoughts) are hardly conclusive; and c) I'm just musing out loud, so it's nothing personal.

Since I've been in the States, I think I've made a pretty good effort to be accessible and regularly available for multiple methods of communication. Through mobile media, social networking, the wonders of Skype, email, and even good ol' snail mail, I think I've done a pretty good job of keeping in touch and keeping people updated back home. Admittedly I'm less good with the birthday cards and presents than I used to be, for both financial and distance reasons (although with companies like Amazon and Moonpig, this is hardly an excuse), but other than that I hope I've made the effort for family and friends alike.

Even back home, I was always a person that made a huge effort to keep in touch. I seem to have an inherent fear of losing people from my life, which is odd, as I've never really 'lost' anyone in a significant way. It might be because I moved from what I considered my home town at age 6 and that really distressed me, leaving me feeling uprooted and detached, but that's conjecture at best - so many things have happened since then! It isn't obvious why I am so keen on maintaining links, but whether it's nature or nurture, it's how I am. I send cards, and I text, and I email at length. I remember birthdays, anniversaries (and by remember, I mean 'have them in my Filofax with something of a religious annual update to make sure I don't forget'), spend ages and take pleasure in finding ideal gifts for those I love, and really enjoy getting little surprises for those I care for 'just because'.

Aboriginal symbols for colonies or campsites,
symbolising the idea that home is where you are.
I'm not saying this to blow my own trumpet at all, but to illustrate that I know not everyone is like me, and I've learned not to be worried by that. I used to feel less cared for when people didn't make a similar level of effort, but not any more. The only people I know who function on a similar I-like-to-spoil-you-and-giggle-ridiculously-because-I-can-do-this-and-life-is-awesome-and-so-are-you-and-I will-add-in-some glitter-for-good-measure level are Ben, and my sister-in-law. In fact, in the case of the latter, it was the first ever mail I received from her that made me realise I was dealing with someone who really was 'my sister' (in marriage terms, of course!). She sent me a package with a letter detailing what to open when and why. It had two cards in it, one for me, and one for me and Ben. There were stickers and sparkly bits in the parcel, and along with some native Aussie chocolate (I am still wanting more of those coconut things, by the way Wren, if you're reading!), as well as a beautiful necklace with a specific link to my then situation (leaving home), which I now never take off. I was touched in a way I can't really express, and I felt so very special to receive such a wonderful bundle. I guess that's why I do it: I want people to feel cared for and appreciated, known, acknowledged. I'm excessive; I love and communicate love whenever I can (possibly why I fit in a bit better here in NC, with their southern friendliness!); and I'm a little too effusive and warm for the average Brit. And that's fine.

I guess what I am a little saddened by is that I've hardly heard from some people at all, despite my efforts at keeping in touch, and these are people who I was very close with before I left. I'm not saying I'm shocked by this development, and I know that it was my choice to leave (and a great choice it was, too!), as well as the aforementioned difference between my version of 'keeping in touch' and that of most others. But it still stings a little, and there's not really anything I can do about it, other than keep trying. Also, oddly enough, it's actually happened on both sides of the pond. I've found my friendships here developing in ways that I wasn't expecting; those I thought I might be closest with have sometimes turned out to be treasured but nevertheless distant friends.

On the flip side, and the positive aspect that I'd rather focus on, I've been pleasantly surprised by finding people who seem more like me, and who have crept up on me gently (in a non-stalker like fashion), making me feel special and loved in a way I inherently understand and appreciate so much. I've also been happily surprised by the efforts some of the people I'd generally been a bit more reserved around back home, and now I speak with them certainly more frequently than I would have while in England, and possibly more openly, too.

From reading around the subject a little it seems that any expat has, by leaving their motherland, damned themselves to a lifetime of constant comparison. One thing I haven't read much about it how that links to the people known in both (or each of the) countries that the expat returns to. I'm not the kind of person who wants to country-hop and live all over the world - I'm not that sort of 'free spirit', but I'd say I'm definitely a divided soul. I know for a fact that I am not a child of the world, but an English girl who loves being part American.

Without a doubt, I have some wonderful friends on both continents. I am a lucky, lucky girl. But how a person relates to their experiences is inevitably entrenched in who experiences those things with them, as I wrote about back in March. So telling the Brits about American adventures or vice versa is likely to be a pointless task, even though humanity is of course all connected. The lack of cultural context, but possibly more importantly, communal, real-time simultaneous experience, means that all discussion lacks some depth in this instance. I'm also rather fascinated by the point of switch-over, when the new country becomes more relevant in your day-to-day existence, but it's not your original home. Is this a healthy thing, and how does it impact on your motherland friends when suddenly your birth country is less significant than the country in which you're currently living?

My natural impulse to apologise for the seeming egocentricity of a post like this is as strong as ever, but it won't serve much here, save for pointing out that I'm clearly not the centre of anyone's universe, in the same way that I am, inevitably, the centre of my own. As David Foster Wallace says in his stunning commencement speech 'This is Water'"Think about it: there is no experience you've had that you were not at the absolute centre of. The world as you experience it is right there in front of you, or behind you, to the left or right of you, on your TV, or your monitor, or whatever. Other people's thoughts and feelings have to be communicated to you somehow, but your own are so immediate, urgent, real - you get the idea." It may not have crossed others' minds to check in with me more regularly, or they may not have known what to say or ask, or maybe I'm not asking them enough about how they are and how we are - illustrating the inevitable confusion that arises from having to impute others' actions without knowing the possible internal and external influences over their behaviour that has nothing to do with us personally. There is also the possibility that they just don't really find my experiences here relevant so aren't asking because they aren't fussed about hearing about them, or are confused or hurt by my decision to leave. While ostensibly they support me, they may not take an interest because they don't really believe in why I am here. I have to consider that too, but I also need to remember that's only one possible conclusion.

As I said right at the beginning, this is a post meant for discussion and thought, not an accusatory missive directed at people I've not spoken to much of late. There are so many reasons that that could have happened, and all I can do is hope to remedy it with you. If we've not spoken a lot over the last ten months, know that I miss you, and I love you, and if you send me your address, I'm pretty sure you'll get a glitter-filled, excessively cheery missive headed your way in the very near future.

Sunday, 19 August 2012

Eve and Ben Lloyd had a farm, ee i ee i oh!




I'll update you properly at some point soon, I am sure, but we have just adopted a sister for Bertie (and Wash and Ender, but mainly for B). So, here they all are!

Thursday, 16 August 2012

366

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366, a set on Flickr.
My Other Limb's photostream on Flickr.

A picture of me, every day, for a year.

The general idea was the same as every 365 project (366 as it's a Leap Year): to keep the camera in my hand at all times. Not too tough, as it's usually attached anyway! But I also wanted to make sure I was getting on the other side of the camera more often.

I wanted to do something to track this year of huge changes, and the only constant theme would be me (at least visually). Some photos are artistic, some are rough, some are very casual, some are cheats, some aren't even taken by me, some are thoughtful, and some are spur-of-the-moment. But here's 366 days of me; from long brown hair to short blonde hair, from the UK to the US, from Rogerson to Lloyd, from leaving to arriving.

From and including: Thursday, August 11, 2011 To and including: Friday, August 10, 2012. It is 366 days from the start date to the end date, end date included, or 1 year including the end date.

Sunday, 5 August 2012

Licensed, working, living

This week has been a flurry of activity, from starting my new job at the vet (which I am LOVING!), to getting into a more "normal routine", to sorting out the last of my administrative/ID issues here, to relaxing over the weekend with Ben. Yes, even relaxing is done in a bit of a flurry right now!

Rather than post a dull diary of events from this week, I will summarise what we've done with a handy list, and then add some pictures in.

  1. Started my new job on Monday. It's a brilliant place to work, with so many lovely people, a great atmosphere, and of course, a ton of gorgeous animals! It's busy, interesting, and really enjoyable. The hours are pretty great too (although you get a bit exhausted working a full week in four days), and I can take Bertie with me, so I am really happy. 
  2. Thursday was my day off, so I did ALL THE THINGS. I went to the DMV at 7AM, and came out by 11AM with my NC driving license (passed this time, yay!). Then I went to the bank to do my last name change stuff - basically my UK bank accounts need my new signature and marriage certificate notarised by my US bank so they can change my name on those accounts too. Fun! Next was the post office, to send off said documents, and then off to Walmart to pick up my prescription. As it costs $9 there, instead of $33+ as it does everywhere else, it seemed like the smart decision. Finally, I made my way to Salon du Monde to get my hair sorted out, as it had grown a silly amount and looked a bit like a mop. The afternoon was spent with Ben, chilling out a little, and then the evening with my in-laws having dinner over in South Park at Maggiano's. Productive and lovely day off!
  3. Friday was a long day at the vet, and so I pretty much just crashed when I got home. So tired!
  4. Saturday is my favourite day of the week, because I get to see Ben all day, and we've established some kind of a routine. We spend the morning at the 7th Street Public Market, drinking incredible coffee at Not Just Coffee, browsing, and buying local, farm-fresh veg, meats, fruit, and all sorts of good stuff. Then we take Bertie to training at PetSmart, which is a lot of fun, and it's great to see her developing. Danni, our trainer, is the nicest lady, and she's great with B, especially when she is being a rambunctious little minx! Then we take the dogs for a walk, come home and cook dinner (or go out), and end the day crashing out watching a movie or just chatting over a bottle of wine. Wonderful. Definitely the best day. 
  5. Sunday is my day of rest and faffing around. Ben works most of the day, so I tend to sleep in a little, clean up, do housework, and then catch up with family/friends/blog/internet/reading. I enjoy it, but it can be a little long without Ben here. 

That about sums it up! Turned out to be a bit like a diary in list form after all, but you get the general idea. Nothing extraordinary, except for the fact that it's just been such a nice week, and things feel that much more settled. I'm a happy, lucky lady. 


Useful alarm I set myself.

Scrubs-tastic!

Giant Walmart prescription. $9 per month, for 13 months.
They gave me the lot all in one go.

The reason for this happy life. I love this man.

Ben snapped this on Friday night.
Bertie and I were both totally out of it!

Amazing latte at Not Just Coffee.

At the market.

And finally, a beautiful day at the park with our dogs.