Saturday, 20 October 2012

If needed, I'll be there

The start of this post is infused by wine and thus is only going to be brief. I shall write the rest under conditions of strictest sobriety, in order that it is not overly sentimental, or more rambling than usual. But on the last night of my parents' visit, and with them asleep and my husband just gone to bed, I am sat listening to music and can't help but reflect on their stay and my feelings about them leaving.

Sorrow and pain are the two emotions I immediately associate with them returning to England. I can't help it, and I've tried so very hard to pretend it's not happening. In fact, it's actually been easier than I imagined, because we have now finalised our booking for coming to the UK for the Christmas break, so I know that I won't be apart from them for more than two months or so. Ten months, and an unspecified ten months, was pretty awful. I don't want to do that again. All the same, not having them within the immediate vicinity (be it neighbourhood or state) is going to take some adjustment. We've lapsed into our usual family routine with blessed ease and delight, so to have it removed is going to hurt. It's like they should always be here; they are such travellers and world citizens indeed that it feels like they already belong - part-time at least - in the Queen City.

Seeing them has both invigorated and confirmed my choice and belief in my choice of moving here. I am happy, and the people who love me most outside of my marriage, my parents, know it. They can see it when they come to our house; they get it when they see Ben and I living, loving, being together; they enjoy our little furry family being part of our lives; and they've experienced our home and life here too. Reservations of course include the obvious limitations in health care, ridiculous political and religious extremism, terrible driving etiquette, and the massive bloody ocean between us all. But other than that, I get the impression that my parents see what a lovely life we're lucky enough to lead.

So, what is the point of this post? I guess that it's my apprehension that my stay in America isn't just an extended holiday. We knew this anyway; the intention was always to really live here, and to build a life here. We're not country-hoppers, and our relationship is the most permanent, beautiful thing in the world. But currently (and possibly election result/child bearing-willing), I guess we are contemplating a long-term lifetime here. We want to come back to England, for holidays, long stays, and also - in theory - to live, whether it be for a short period before returning to the US, or to make a commitment to living in the UK properly. It's my true home, and I know Ben is so very keen to make that move, too. But from where we currently stand, and without visiting England for a good 18 months, it's seeming like we might stay where we are.

It's not like this is news to me. I just haven't really contemplated it openly before now. I am very happy here. I like life in America - with Ben and in our house, our neighbourhood, our town, our state. There are definite drawbacks (expensive healthcare, excessive religious involvement, bipartisan politics, the war on women - see above), and cultural adaptations I have made without being aware of them, but I know I have definitely altered my expectations and behaviour to fit in a little more here. It's also not written in stone that we would stay forever and ever, either. It just feels more possible.

*end late night wine rambles*

0955 10/19/12: See what I mean?! I've even written the date in the American format. Bah. But today is the day my parents go home, so I'm going to have to continue this later today or over the weekend.

1042 10/20/12: I wrote the first part of this post thinking that I would be more likely to backtrack on what I said about staying here once my parents had returned home. I think that's why I persuaded myself to write it when I did, in order that I said it honestly, before I was influenced by the massive gap in my heart that my Mum and Dad not being here has left.

But I still feel the same way.

Walking around our house this morning was a quite sad, as it was so quiet after being filled with the bustle, laughter, and general lives of four people, three dogs, and a cat. With Mum and Dad back in England, Ben at work, the cat AWOL, and at least one dog asleep, it was a little too peaceful as I pottered around tidying and staring absent-mindedly at things earlier today. But in a way, I was still happy. Really quite happy.

This house, this place, feels like home. Walking through our neighbourhood at 8:45AM in my polka-dot pyjamas and hooded dressing gown (yes, I'm that classy chick you see from time to time) with the two puppies trotting merrily along with me, waving to the ladies who live across the street and getting nods from passers-by in cars, while the whole time enjoying the fresh air and autumn sunshine, reminded me what a home we've built here already. It's a wonderful place to live, both socially and meteorologically, and is filled with people I'm lucky enough to say I love and places that feel almost as familiar to me as those I've visited for 10+ years back in England.

So, what am I trying to say? I guess just that I'm at a point I didn't think I'd arrive at so soon: that I feel at home here, at least in our little microcosm of America. I can reel off a list of why the UK is a better place to live overall (from a dispassionate point of view), and I will always be hugely torn by being so far away from those who, apart from Ben, I love most in the world. The distance from my beloved parents, brother, sister-in-law, and several friends who I count amongst family in every way that matters is something that could be the deal-breaker. Coming to England for Christmas may turn this post around almost entirely too - I'm aware I'm speaking from a rather literally and metaphorically distanced perspective right now, so I could be totally missing half of the story, but nevertheless wanted to get it "on paper" for posterity.

We may still come back to England to live, and it's certainly not off the table in any significant way. It's a decision Ben and I will take together, and not for a few years yet I should think (which we have said from the beginning). But when and if we do, leaving Charlotte to move back to the UK won't be just coming home any more. It will be leaving another home behind too.


  1. The time to think about this more is when (if) you have children. If you don't have a large family in the USA, it's hard to raise kids when most of their immediate family are in the UK. IMO, they really miss out on having cousins around, being able to visit grandma more than once a year etc. And it doesn't get easier as the years go by.

    1. Thanks for stopping by. :) I think you're right that the crucial decision-making point is the when/if kids question is answered. Having said that, I'm from a family where I never really saw my grandparents and cousins, and I think I'm all right. But in this case, I would hate for our kids to miss out on our parents as grandparents, and vice versa.

      It's helpful to know the difficulties don't abate - good to have an idea that we need to ensure everything is in place as and when we do decide to have children.

  2. My wife and I are at the other end of the scale, in the sense of having a 15 year old. Once she leaves the nest, we may well move, probably to a different place in the US.

    Ultimately, I think we will end up the UK. I think I'd rather spend my elderly years in Cumbria or Yorkshire. I know that my wife wants to see more of the world, having dedicated a large section of her life to bringing up her daughter as a single parent.

    I don't feel particularly settled here, though it's more of a general restlessness, rather than anything deep. I enjoy the novelty of living places, but after a while I can get bored - I had that in the UK too. I think I maybe need to be closer to a big city too.

    I think you outlined some of the uncomfortable things about the US for a Brit. The "reactionary" forces are pretty strong here - Britain (rightly) has a reputation for being traditionalist, but the conservatism in the US can be something to behold. And it's a bit of an ugly atmosphere at the moment, with the election especially. (Although I think the world generally has gone a bit more negative with the economic recession).

    I'd like to do a bit more travel, it's just the logistics that can be awkward. Hopefully I'll get to see New Orleans next year...

    1. I suppose once you are child-free (in the sense of living with one!), you will be a lot freer to move around. Travelling to visit people here isn't seen as such a big deal it seems, so that will help too. It'd be exciting to live somewhere else in the US, and experience another side of the same country's culture!

      I think we are still thinking that ultimately we will also end up in the UK, it's simply that I wanted to document how I felt at that moment. Having two places that feel like home is both a blessing and rather confusing at the same time.

      As for getting bored, I think I get more affectionate about a place the longer I am in it, rather than bored by it. I've never really been one to move around much and I value the people in an area more than the area itself, when it comes down to it. Again, having a longer-standing network of relationships back in England may well be the clincher. Of course, the longer we are here... You see the issue!

      The "general restlessness" thing is definitely something I feel, but right now it's much more on and off than it was to begin with. I am less conscious of sticking out, of being or feeling different, and I just get on with it. If I have a bad day, sometimes I can definitely attribute that to sensing my alien status, but at other times, I'm not so sure. I might just be having a bad day.

      Ultimately, England is my true home, and that will never change. I am fully expecting to feel a sense of relief when I go home, just to be able to *know* how to be, what to say, how to approach basic things like zebra crossings and picking out juice at the supermarket (!).

      The ugly atmosphere in America is certainly very unappealing. I don't think America/ns realise just how unattractive and petty the bickering and nastiness looks from across the pond - not to mention ridiculous at times. You're right though, the negativity is world-wide because of the global recession. I guess Brits are just a bit less cheery to start with, ostensibly anyway, and have less of a sense of entitlement. We kind of expect things to go down the pan periodically!

      Logistics are always a problem for us, too! When we have settled properly in terms of balancing our bank accounts and making sure the dogs are happy and confident, it will be more feasible for us to travel more. Fingers crossed!


Thanks for taking the time to write! I try to reply to everyone, and I love to read your comments.