Oh what a week… this whole move is really testing us: Monday morning we learned that although our container had arrived in port, it was “randomly selected for x-ray inspection”, which means it won’t get to us until Tuesday next week. As we have to vacate our apartment in 2 days, we’re looking forward to a weekend of eating out and sleeping on airbeds. Luckily IKEA is only a 15 minute drive away, and we were able to stock up on towels, mattresses and guest beds. I really hope this whole period of uncertainty ends soon, not sure how much more I can take.
I’m still finding it very difficult here (although I admit I’m typing this while sitting in a lounger by the pool). Will I ever be able to integrate myself (and do I want to?) Of course all this is because I still don’t have a proper home, and still have to get into some kind of routine, and, of course, make friends. It’s just that I miss my friends from home so terribly, and part of me just wants them all back, rather than making new ones. I’m too exhausted!!! I have been invited to someone’s house for a cuppa though, so that’s a start, and the mum in question is really nice. And guess what, of course she’s English. She’s lived here for 7 years, and by the sounds of it, is ready to go home, but her 3 children are so completely settled here, and her husband’s job is good (alarm bells ringing in my head, must not wait so long!). We had a good chat about living here, but unfortunately, rather than alleviating my fears, she pretty much confirmed my observations. The school thing really stresses me out, E is already getting bored. I knew they were probably a bit behind in their learning, but am now quite shocked just how far behind, her homework is a joke, stuff she did in Year 1 and early 2 in the UK. So we might have to do something about that, although I don’t want to put her in another year with older children, not now she’s starting to make friends. And she is so young still… Well, I guess we’ll figure something out. The other thing is the incredible amount of effort and time that is expected from parents, not to mention the money! Yearly donations to the school are expected to be a good $1000 per child (oh how I wish someone had told us, we might have just gone for the private option, and for a smaller house!). And everything child-related is so bloody SERIOUS. Americans do love a SCHEDULE. I think it’s their favourite word (s-kkkedule of course).
Maybe I should just chill and not try to fit in, and just stay being the double foreigner that I am. The thing is I have done it all before. I have moved to another country, let myself get absorbed by it to the extent that I can now call it my home, without losing my connection to my first home. Yes, I can have two homes, two sets of roots. But can I have three? I wonder if anyone can. For my husband and my children, coming to the US is a different experience. They never had to adapt to a new society. Of course, they all are more exposed to different cultures, customs, attitudes than most of their friends because of their connection to Germany, but when it comes to actually living somewhere, they never had to adapt to a new set of rules. So in a way, I have both an advantage and a disadvantage here. I kind of know I’m over-analysing things, and that I should just roll with it and enjoy the ride. I’ll try and treat this time in the US as an interlude, so to speak, enjoy it, make the most of it, learn about living here, and not expect to slot in. Who knows how I’ll feel in a few months’ time? But where does my reluctance stem from? It might sound strange, but maybe I’m just too old for this. I kind of feel that at the age of 36, I want to have a place to settle down in, a place that I can truly call my home, with all the trimmings. But of course it could be that I just don’t want to immerse myself as much as I have in the UK because I simply can’t be bothered to do it again. I know how much bloody effort it takes! After more than a decade of living in the UK, I had finally found my spot there, found myself (just to sound a bit OTT). I did the main bulk of becoming an adult there, finished school, got my degree, worked, bought and sold a house, and – most importantly – had my children there. And made some amazing friends along the way. All this does shape a person, and it so happened that it suited me. I never felt like an alien there, something I kind of knew from plenty of experience in and with the UK before I actually came to live there. Whereas my relationship with America has always been quite different. I have visited this country in the past on several occasions, always for holidays (which of course makes a big difference), and I clearly remember thinking each time that I was glad not to be living there, always really enjoying my time there, but relieved I could return home.
There is something about America and the Americans and their culture that I just don’t get. Maybe I’ll finally find out what that is, maybe I’ll change my mind once I’ve lived here properly for a while.
Maybe I should have a look at this article I once read again – I first did when we decided to move here and I needed to list the pluses on my pros and cons list. It’s really interesting, gets you thinking about your own country (or countries). It’s written by an Englishman, but might as well have been written by a German):
And maybe I should just shut up, stop whinging and get on with it. There are 2 children to be picked up from school, food shopping to be done, bunk beds to be put up, dinner to be cooked. I really don’t have time to wallow in self-pity, do I??!!
And it’s nice and sunny, and soon I’ll have a lovely garden to sit in and enjoy life. I just need some friends to pop by and keep me company, and I’ll be ok!