10/16/08

A momentous day remembered

Well it seems to be a week for anniversaries, the most significant being, exactly 3 years ago today I moved to the USA permanently.

I left Gatwick Airport on a jet plane, with a couple of cases and my wedding dress to hand. I kept a good old Brit' stiff upper lip as I said goodbye to my mum and brother, mainly so we'd all get through it without dissolving into tears. I received many well wishes and smiles in the airport, when my very conspicuous and large Pronuptia wedding dress carrier was spotted over my arm.

I sat back in my BA World Traveller seat (I had splurged for the quieter cabin, knowing I'd be a little emotional) and as the plane left the ground and England disappeared from sight, I shed a few quiet tears.

Yes I was sad and a little nervous, but I was also at the end of a very long journey to finally be on the same continent as the man I loved. The closer I got to the USA and my new very different life, the more excited I became. I had made a huge life changing decision at 39 years old, and then followed through on it. Many people dream of starting over in middle age, but I was one of the few who had actually done it. I was kind of proud of myself and a little shocked!

I have never for one moment regretted that decision. Many hear 'internet relationship' and dismiss them as bound to fail. But I knew the Hubster better than anyone else I had ever known. Being in a long distance relationship puts unimaginable strains on you both and the relationship. It forces you to really talk for hours on end, you end up knowing every little thing about the other person. You fall in love with the person inside, not the face the world knows.

Within the first 2 months we shared a house move, our wedding and suddenly getting used to living together for more than 2 weeks at a time. Life wasn't always perfect, but I was very sure of my decision and made every effort to integrate.

At first I felt like I was 5 years old again. Just for a moment, indulge me and imagine moving to a completely new country.

You don't know what to dial for local and long distance calls, you don't know any street names, directions are given with north, south, east, west - not left and right. You have no idea where to go to shop for certain things, most of the store names are alien to you. Everybody you meet is new to you; your brain rapidly goes into overload with new names and faces to remember. You're driving on the wrong side of the car and the wrong side of the street. The food is very different, products are different, some things you love you can no longer get at all. All the measurements you have known all your life have been thrown out the window; whether it's shoes, clothes, cooking or weight. Everytime you open your wallet you are faced with different currency and coins are very confusing.

I either had to be guided by others, or ask to know just about anything, it was extremely frustrating for a previously highly independant woman. It was also a huge amount of new information for my brain to compute and despite being generally happy, in January 06 I had a big old panic attack and ended up in the ER for a few hours!

I got over that and continued adjusting to my new life. Gradually I learned most of the essentials or made adjustments to accomodate the new stuff into my way of thinking/acting.

Looking back 3 years down the road, I can honestly say I have never fought homesickness, this now feels like home and did so very quickly. My quality of life has improved beyond measure and I am a much happier, less stressed and calmer person.

There are times when I miss family and old friends, but it doesn't happen often and they're just a call away. All in all there's nothing I would do differently, I can't ever imagine returning to the UK, this is home now and I have totally embraced life in the USA.

Now if I could just get the immigration finished!

32 comments:

willow said...

Sarah, this is a lovely tribute to your new life...it made me cry! Thank you for sharing this wonderful piece of your life. I love how you have both flags on your sidebar. :^)

Stuart Peel said...

I know exactly how you feel. It's a wrench and a huge adventure all at the same time. And yes it's weird living somewhere new, and you do sometimes look around you and think 'What am I doing here ?'. But ultimately it seems to have worked out for you, and I'm sure like me you wish you'd done it before.

Congratulations and well done, because it isn't always easy.

Rob (Inukshuk Adventure) said...

So well written Sarah. Indeed an adventure into the unknown and you have been rewarded with love and contentment. Happy 3rd anniversary.

Melissa said...

Sarah, before I read your post I was reminiscing about my first marriage which took place 20 years ago in November. I was living in England and fell in love with a Scot. We got married 10 months later in Huntingdon. He followed me to the States two years later, so I can identify with your feelings and understand what an exciting time it was for you. I had similar feelings when I left the US for England. How time flies!

Janet said...

Congratulations on making it through the first 3 years, I can so relate to that scene at the airport.

I also remember what a shock it was to my system moving from a rural area of England to the environs of LA.

Sherilyn -The Dominee Huisvrouw said...

I think the hardest part is that you don't expect it to be so different. You speak English, They speak English, no big deal, eh?

However one quickly learns how wrong they are when it's not a 2 week holiday, but a more permanent move. At least "Hubster" could help you out w/ where to go for things & you weren't totally on your own w/o knowing anyone.

Daryl said...

Wonderful post, Sarah, I cant imagine a better new citizen than you will be ... are ...

:-Daryl

Brad said...

Congratulations! I am truly very excited and happy for you. What a wonderful story!

Rhea said...

I'm so impressed with your moving to a foreign country and starting a new life! It's so incredibly brave. And we're glad to have you over here. :o) Great post!

Congrats on three years here!!

leslie said...

Congratulations of your 3rd anniversary! I'm sure England misses you but the USA is overjoyed at your choice. (especially the hubster lol) I've always wanted to live in England for at least a year - just to see what it's like to be there all year round and not as a tourist.

gingela5 said...

Great post! I think I might be terrified moving to a new country! I would be terrified moving to a new state! Congrats on being here for 3 years! woo hoo!

pamokc said...

Girl, we're glad you're here! You've got too much life in you to be contained by such a small island anyway. You need those wide open spaces!!! Hi to hubster from us.

Hubster said...

Thought I would add my 2 cents worth........thats 2 of the little copper coins Sweetie....haha. I am so happy Sarah was strong enough to make the move and to do it with such style and grace. I trully am blessed and I know I don't tell her often enough....so I LOVE YOU SARAH.

Brit' Gal Sarah said...

AWWW - he made me cry the bugger!

Mary said...

Sarah, congratulations to you and your lucky hubby! I'm glad you made the trip, too :~)

East Anglian Troy said...

I've just been watching the evening news here in the UK and everything, globally, seems depressing, negative or full of strife. But then to read this blog of yours brought a shaft of sunlight into my heart and a smile to my face. Thank you!

Kat said...

Thank you for this post. In a month I will be leaving the USA for the UK (all be it only 4 years and not for a lifetime) and this post was extremely helpful. Thank you!

Katie said...

thank you so much for putting up with all of us after three years! :)

Snippety Gibbet said...

That was such a sweet post. Congratulations, my friend, on your third blissful year of marriage. And we're glad you're here.

Sherri said...

Happy 3rd anniversary Sarah!! Thank you for sharing that touching story with us. I'm glad you came to America and that I met you through cyberspace!!

Mare said...

I really enjoyed reading about your adventure and I admire you and your determination. And I have to say that I find your blog a lot of fun to read.

Kelli said...

Sarah, It is so wonderful to hear more about you, your experience and your life. It was emotional, thoughtful, touching and inspiring and I thank you for sharing!
Love hearing expat's stories... we all have such different ones, yet they are somehow tenderly the same.

The Antiques Diva™ said...

Brit Gal,
Congratulations on 3 years in my home state! You are doing swimmingly and I suspect you’ll be saying “ya’ll” and speaking with an Okie twang in no time (if you’re not already). It was such a joy reading about your process of expatriation to America. I mentioned before to you that I grew up very nearby where you’re now living, but having lived in Europe for 8 ½ years (first in Paris for 5 and now Holland for 3 ½ ) I’ve went through many of those same sensations and discoveries. Last week my lovely husband came home and asked, “Do you have an interest in learning to speak German?” Apparently we’re transferring from Amsterdam to Berlin in January with this move comes not only a new language, but a new way of life and a new set of friends and discoveries to be made – just when I’ve finally gotten a handle on Dutch life! Reading your memories of your last three years in America reminded me the romantic notion of the move and as I looked over at my list of new verb conjugations to learn I smiled and said, "Ich bin ein Berliner!"
The Antiques Diva

soulbrush said...

how very lucky for you, the instant rapport and feeling of 'home' it took me 10 years to adjust to life here in the uk. good post.

wanderingbtrfly said...

Congratulations, Sarah! I loved your post, and the hubster's sweet comment - I can see why you came all this way!

Your posts give me courage and support; even though I'm not quite an expat...yet :) Seeing what you've gone through and knowing that as scary as it was, it was still the right choice. congrats on 3 years!!

Linda said...

Congratulations on 3 years in your new home. I admire you for making such a major life change. I'm happy for you!
The song you asked about on my blog is Kenny G and Louis Armstrong. I found it on playlist under Kenny G.

Expat mum said...

Wow - you took me back 18+ years. I remember being in Dallas and not having a CLUE. Worse, you had to drive everywhere and I kept getting lost. That was before GPS and I used to drive around for hours until I saw something I recognised.

Kay said...

I loved reading this, Sarah and admire you tremendously. Not many people would have the courage to do what you did. I'm so glad you've come and have found happiness with Hubster. He's one very lucky man!

notevenatshirt vb said...

That had to be scary and I really am in awe of your willingness to start a new life. I'm full of admiration over the amount of courage that must've taken and kind of wish I had the same fortitude as you did. Thank you for sharing this with us and being so honest. I can't imagine how confusing this country and it's culture must be for outsiders.

Janet said...

Sarah, I'm a little behind on my blog reading, and I've just gotten to this post today.

Wow. You've brought tears to my eyes. I understand completely. Other than the fact that I made the reverse move, the biggest difference between your move and mine is that we didn't get married for another 3 years after I moved. We were a bit more cautious!!!! ;-)

Seriously, I KNOW what a big deal this is. One of my friends says that I "reinvented myself". You have as well.

And I think we're better women for it.

Janet

Poutalicious said...

I enjoyed your interview with David and I had to come read this. I met my S.O. on through Match.com online and we have been together 5 years. I think having this happen makes one more open to making internet connections.

Librarygirl said...

Thanks for posting this! Me and my hubby met online so I know what you mean about what people say. We've been married nearly 5 years and doing the long distance thing from me in the US and him in England was rough and definitely trying, but worth it in the end because I got to marry the love of my life. I forwarded him the link so he could read it, as I'm sure he felt similar moving over here.