This week marks a year since I moved to the US from the UK. To mark the occasion I’m doing a two part special looking at my first year in America with some of the more interesting things that have happened in my 12 months here. Happy 4th of July to all my American readers. 🙂
With my usual perfect timing I have arrived in America just in time for the worst day of the year to be a Brit in Boston; July 4. I don’t care though because I’m too tired to leave the house after my flight so I get an early night and let the fireworks taunt me as I try to sleep. I’m secretly pleased when it starts raining. The next day I unpack and realise that the 27 jumpers (sweaters) that I brought with me may be fine for the British summer but they are wholly superfluous for the much warmer summer here. My wife takes me to H&M (mainly because it’s the only clothing chain I recognise) and I stock up on t-shirts and shorts. I get a hoodie for $4 because it’s the holiday weekend; maybe July 4 isn’t that bad after all.
My wife has been with me for the whole first week but now she’s back at work so it’s time to explore the city on my own and get to know how everything works. My idea for a quick walk around the neighbourhood quickly turns out to be a mistake as I get lost and end up in a less than pleasant area. Nobody walks in the suburbs so there’s nobody to ask for directions. Every time I cross the road I manage to irritate a driver by using the crosswalks incorrectly. I also realise that absurdly I don’t know how to catch a bus here; do I put my arms out or does the driver stop automatically? How can I not know how to catch a bus?
After a lot of bureaucracy and irritation I finally have a social security number and a green card. I can now begin to look for jobs. Due to a series of bureaucratic cock ups it took three visits to the social security office just to get an SSN and I have never been more frustrated. Thank God for my supportive wife! I head to the magnificent library on Copley Square every day and apply for jobs and spend a lot of time procrastinating on Facebook. The first time I get asked for directions by a tourist I’m really pleased with myself for being able to help her. Later I realise that I gave her the wrong directions but it’s the thought that counts right?
The summer is beautiful and much nicer than a typical British one but something doesn’t feel right. The post boxes are the wrong colour, I never look the right way when I cross the road and the lack of a pub with a beer garden is driving me mad. I feel as homesick as a lion in a Scottish zoo; it’s miserable. When I to buy stamps at the post office the lady doesn’t understand my accent and I resort to pointing like a British kid on a school trip to France. What did I sign up for? I am starting to feel that I don’t belong here.
We head to Mexico for a short vacation and I learn that lying by the pool and drinking a cocktail every 30 minutes is beneficial to my mood. The Mayan archaeological sites are amazing and I am able to forget my homesickness for a while. When we get back I have a successful interview and I receive my first job offer. I briefly consider the option of binge watching Netflix and petting the cat for the rest of the decade instead but then I accept the job offer. Success! My favourite American interaction of the month is when I’m asked if I’m French. Zut alors!
People weren’t exaggerating about the beauty of New England in autumn (I refuse to say fall). It’s stunning watching the leaves change and now that I have a job I can enjoy myself a lot more without having to fret about phone interviews. I have discovered that phone interviews are my nemesis, I’d rather be trapped in an elevator with Donald Trump. The other thing that I discover in October is that Americans are obsessed with Halloween. My wife takes me to see a warehouse that has every conceivable costume from a nun outfit to a skeleton with an inflatable penis and for once I am speechless. I tell everyone that I am wearing the British person costume (yes it exists) and they can’t object. The skeleton with the blow up penis can wait until next year.
This is a pretty cool month you know? It isn’t so cold that I want to die and there are awesome things to do like ice skating on Boston Common in the evening. We head to England for a week and my wife meets some of my family and friends for the first time. It’s probably the least relaxing week off work I’ve ever had but it was fun. When we return to Boston I get to meet all of my wife’s family at Christmas and they make me feel very welcome. I feel homesick on Christmas Day but my sister in law is nice enough to provide some Christmas crackers like we have in England, there are even dodgy jokes inside. I spend New Years Eve on the couch watching Netflix with my wife and remark that I’m surprised at the lack of snow so far. Oh how I’d live to regret those words in the coming weeks.
To be continued…