Just over three years ago I moved to the States. In a way it was good timing – I had just finished a PhD, there were no jobs in the offing, we were still young(ish) and many of our friends had moved out of London to start families. But it took a long time and a lot of stress to get the visa that would allow R to take up the job he had been offered. By the time we finally got it, after an entire morning at the American embassy I was rather too emotionally exhausted to feel the underlying fear very acutely.
The fear was there though. Because although we assured friends and family that it would only be 18 months, in reality I knew R would be very happy to extend it if everything went well. And I’d never been to the US before, and had no idea if I’d like it. And I had no idea if I’d get permission to work, or be able to find a job if I did. I had visions of myself drinking gin through the afternoon, waiting for R to come home, or, worse, learning to drive and then just taking off somewhere.
Happily I didn’t succumb to alcoholism. (In fact, it was a massive relief to me that in extremis my reaction is merely to eat too much, become slightly agoraphobic and then call a therapist.) And while I did learn to drive, this was towards the end of our tenure and a skill used more to take road trip vacations than to run away.
Perhaps I should have worried more about not being able to work. If nothing else my experience in America taught me how much work is central to my identity.
But mainly the things that I learnt from living in the States were positive. It confirmed that I like people, and can get on with pretty much anyone. I like travel and learning about other cultures and their histories. I like food, and drink and music, and respect these as cultures. I like the outdoors, and healthy(ish) living. And I aspire to live a balanced life.
Of course it’s been a challenge incorporating these aims into my life back home in London – I think we all aspire to a truly balanced life, but I’m not sure if I’ve ever met anyone who has achieved this. But I think I’m definitely friendlier to strangers, and more willing to travel frequently to see friends and family. We’ve also been trying to incorporate American food into our lives here. Making a big bowl of guacamole to have with the football (NFL) is essential for us now, and we’ve bought a small barbecue so we can continue to grill when it’s dry and warm(ish) out. I’m planning to write a post about eating American in London, so watch this space.
But really I’m finding it harder and harder to think about blogging. There are things I never got around to writing about – our love of baseball, our trips to New York – but it just seems like such a different world now. So my plan is to write what I can, when I can to cover off what I’ve missed, but to work to an end date.
In June this year we’re heading back to the US for a two-week road trip in the NW. It will be a year since we left to come home – we made it a year! – and that feels like a good point to end this blog. At least until the next big adventure…