|Walking to Departures at LGW|
But I feel okay.
I missed England, and the people in it even more, and I was so very happy to be home. My real home, where I fit in without thinking about it; where my voice doesn't stand out; where the weather rarely stays the same for a full 24 hours and the sky has a million different shades of grey; where the news actually is news; where pubs are after-work gathering places; where soup is served without a sandwich; where the 'F'-word is more like punctuation than an expletive; where supermarkets don't make me cry (although I can still sing to cheese); where train drivers make comical announcements about their service's latest failure; where metric and imperial units of measure are used seemingly randomly and interchangeably - I could go on.
As I said above, the people are what, who, I missed the most. That's always been true, however much I loved seeing the familiar sights of London, the beloved greens of my Cotswold town, and my beautiful family home. It is hard to put into words what actually seeing my wonderful friends, being in the same place as them, hugging them, is to me having not been able to do it for so long. I think the brain almost allows you to forget a little of how good - nay, necessary - it is because otherwise you'd never be able to carry on. Don't even get me started on how much more this is true for family. Knowing I should see both my parents and Sam and Wren Stateside this year is a huge comfort when I start to ache for their proximity.
|It was cold in London|
Granted, we visited at a funny time of year: Christmas is already pretty busy for most people, not to mention emotional with a lot of family reunions and hectic with fun time off from work. So it's not exactly representative. Add to that the fact that England in the winter is often downright miserable (especially with this year's floods), and I think it's only fair to acknowledge that we didn't see its best side. A summer visit will probably be planned next time, and then I can hopefully have a more balanced view. But I'm not entirely sure how much it will change (except as a function of time - perhaps I will hanker to be there more permanently once I have been away longer? Or perhaps if we stayed longer, at a more "normal" time of year?).
The Internet also has a lot to answer for (or be thanked for). It's made it so very easy to keep in touch with the important goings-on in my family's and friends' lives. Between email, What'sApp, Facebook, Twitter, this blog, and the wonder of being able to make voice and video calls for free via Skype, to an extent it's almost like I've not been away. Although the aforementioned hugs of amazingness cannot be administered down an ethernet cable, and that does make a huge difference once you get one again, it does mean that there is a level of connectedness there that pre-internet expats did not have. I really don't know how they coped. At the same time though, it's possible that these options have facilitated my acceptance of the harder parts of being away, or at least masked them by providing me with some form of immediate communication.
|Status update after getting back to NC|
This does not, will not - will never - mean that we're not coming back. It also doesn't mean that I miss England any less, or am any less English. In fact, no one commented that my accent had changed (it was exclaimed that it had not, in fact), and I was not all of a sudden surprised by how small the buildings and streets seemed - two common occurrences for returning expats from America, apparently.
We plan on living in England at some point in the future for some time, not just because it's my mother country but because Ben wants to very much, and I feel he deserves his own expat adventure too. As he's an English Literature/Shakespeare scholar as well as probably the most British American I've ever met, I think he'll do just fine, and it occurs to me that he might feel a little about Charlotte as I do about Gloucestershire.
I'm not suggesting that one has to leap an ocean to have a 'real' or more meaningful life experience, but for me, it's made all the difference. I wasn't running away from my (lovely) life in England, or any particular thing at all. I just chose change. I chose happiness. I chose love. I chose to be, rather than to seem to be, and I choose to be in Charlotte.
So hey there, Queen City. It's good to be home (part 2). Here's to 2013 in America!
|Sunrise on Fairview|