Leaving England

The sun is shining, there’s not a cloud in the sky and there’s football on the television and an open beer beside me. All in all the recipe for a perfect evening. It isn’t, I feel strange and the beer lies untouched. This is the last evening I’ll spend as a UK resident. I can’t decide how I feel other than it’s a kaleidoscope. I’m excited, happy, sad, exhausted, drained and intrigued by what America will offer me. This process has taken over a year and it’s taught me a lot about myself, I’ve even learnt patience. Tomorrow I get to start living with my wife, thanks USCIS for only making us wait a year for that.The next article I write will be from the other side of the Atlantic with a whole new perspective on everything no doubt.

 

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A last walk along the beach

 

I should probably be running around freaking out over what I have forgotten but I feel strangely calm, perhaps dangerously calm. Like a snake shedding it’s skin, I’ve reduced my life to nothing. Two suitcases. 52KG. I probably eat more chocolate than that in a week to be honest! I’ve certainly found out how much stuff I had that I don’t need. One family member gave me a Lynx deodorant every Christmas and as I didn’t like the smell but was too polite to say I had about 16 bottles of the stuff. Maybe I just smell.  I have plenty of other stuff I didn’t need, which Englishman has not one but two fancy dress sombreros anyway. Maybe I should have supported Mexico at the World Cup. Giving stuff away to family members, charity and friends is pretty therapeutic and I’ve promised myself I will try and be light on possessions in America.

I’ve finished my packing and now all I need to do is get to the airport and board my plane. But I think it’s time for a shave and then a final check of my possessions before getting some rest. Goodbye England, it’s been good.

 

 

The Bittersweet Nature of Goodbyes

I was in a card shop the other day and I jokingly asked the assistant if they had a goodbye card with the theme “Sorry you hate me forever for leaving” but needless to say they didn’t. I might design one, I’m sure there’s a demand for one done in a tongue in cheek British manner. I know that people don’t hate me but when friends and family get sad I do feel guilty although I think most people are happy for me and know that I’m leaving the UK for the right reason. That doesn’t make the goodbyes any easier though and that’s what today’s post is about.

    The theme of the last few weeks, apart from endless packing and running around aimlessly like an England midfielder trying to get things done has been goodbyes. I’ve said goodbye to friends, to family and even to a few pubs. Goodbyes are painful, often long and draped with emotion and when you have a lot of them in a short space of time they are often wearying too. Every goodbye is different in nature too, from the gruff and very British “See you around mate” (you won’t I’ll be 3000 miles away so I won’t bump into you down the local) to the more emotional and tear filled ones (like the one I’ll have with my mum on Wednesday). I read a quote the other day “How lucky I am to have known someone who was so hard to say goodbye to”  and it made me think that instead of mourning the loss of people in my life I should instead be glad that I’ve known (most) of them.

    I’m very lucky that technology exists to talk to people on the other side of the world for free instead of having to write and post constantly and that social networks make it easy to stay involved in peoples lives. Although flights can be expensive, I’ll only be seven hours away from the UK by air and that’s nothing to really complain about. So I shall stay in touch with people and return home for visits and hopefully entertain visitors in the US. Imagine 200 years ago when a transatlantic voyage might involve conflict with a French warship (well I say conflict but accepting the surrender of the French captain might be more accurate), scurvy and possibly rum, sodomy and the lash. I’ll let you decide which of those would be the worst! I don’t have to fear any of those on my flight although if I was flying with Ryanair they’d probably offer them all as an optional cash extra.

    There is a Morrissey song called “One Day Goodbye Will be Farewell” and that’s true because we all die but if you are good friends or family most goodbyes are just temporary. There should never be a farewell unless you are being strapped to a table under a laser by an overweight ginger man with with a dubious sexual predilection for gold and you aren’t James Bond. You say goodbye, I say hello…

Packing Blankets

I’ve just informed all of my Facebook friends that it’s now less than a week until I leave England so of course it’s now official. My flight is at 8 in the morning from Bristol next Wednesday and I’m going via Dublin so I can go through US immigration there and not have to face the mess that is Boston. The only seats left when I booked were in the middle of four so I just know that I’ll be sat next to someone who craves extra territory like Russia and creeps into my personal space but the flight is only seven hours so I’ll survive. Long distance flights seem to attract those with little regard for others and a marked lack of a personal hygiene routine but next time I’ll fly I’ll have my wife beside me so it’ll be a much better experience.

    It’s rather strange to think that it’s less than a week until I’m living in the USA, I would never have imagined this happening a few years ago. A land where a tap is a faucet (why?) and where they call a sport where you carry the ball football and actual football soccer. I’m excited about it though, it’s a challenge and an opportunity and something completely different. As long as I can import British chocolate and marmite, I think I’ll cope pretty well. I’ve found this blog to be a good way to air my feelings on the Visa process and the long delays and no doubt it will help me cope with adjusting in America too. Writing is really helpful to me.

    I’m learning new things all the time at the moment. Yesterdays lesson was that sunburn on the feet is really fucking painful. Today’s lesson is that trying to cram your entire life into two suitcases is not remotely feasible, even when I’ve already got rid of half of my clothing, books and DVD’S (If you visit a charity shop in Exeter you may just find the worlds biggest collection of stripy jumpers on sale). I’ve also learnt that some people are a lot nicer when they realise they don’t have to see you any more! Such is life. Today marks three whole months until I last saw my wife so I’m more excited than ever about getting to live together and I know that it will make all of the stress and hardship of the last year completely worthwhile. 🙂

  

 

Here Comes the Sun

Well it’s only ten days now until I leave England for America and time is moving pretty fast! I thought these last weeķs would be difficult anď emotional but they’ve actually been pretty good. The British weather has surprised me to the point that I’m sat outside in the warm sunshine writing this with a beer by my side. The last few weeks have been really warm and between working, packing and sorting things out for my move I’ve made the most of them. The only downside is that now have awful sock tan lines on my legs that make it look like I’m wearing white trainers but never mind!

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Warm sunshine and Devon scenery could cheer anyone up

The other thing that has added to my good mood is how friends and family have been since my interview. It could be they are just happy to get rid of me but a lot of people have made an effort to spend time with me and I really appreciate that. I was sitting on the Cathedral Green in Exeter having an ice cream with a good friend the other day in the warm sunshine and I realised that I’m much happier than I was a few months ago when  I started this blog when I was pretty miserable and living with my wife seemed so far away. I’ll miss my friends and family a lot but I’ll stay in touch and I’m ready to embrace this new chapter in my life.

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Come join me for ice cream

I now have very little time left to sort through what I’m going to take and get rid of the rest but I’m pretty well prepared. Definitely more prepared than the England team were for the World Cup but the less said about that the better! I have a tan that means I won’t be the palest person in Boston anymore and I’m feeling in good shape physically. If anyone reading this has ever uprooted to another country then I’d definitely appreciate any last minute tips and tricks. Not long to go now!

The Times They Are A-Changin’

Today marks just four weeks until I fly to start my new life in the USA and I’m starting to realise what a whirlpool of emotions that invokes. I’m happy, sad, excited, nervous, apprehensive and intrigued all at once. It’s going to be strange leaving the UK, if we had different levels of citizenship that ranked us on how British we were then I’d probably come out as baptised in the waters of the Thames and delivered at birth by a bulldog. I couldn’t be anything other than British so it’s strange to think of me living in a country where there isn’t an obsession with the weather, moaning about the NHS but loving it at the same time and an irrational fear of penalty shootouts. How will I fit in? I refuse to be the type of expat who moans all the time about their new country and only buys things that they would have eaten at home. I want to buy a ridiculously large hot dog at the baseball and bay for blood at the ice hockey. I refuse to buy a truck and adopt dubious political views though! That’s the stereotyping dealt with for this post I promise.

    I’m at the stage now where I’ve done the scary parts of the interview and the medical and I just have to wind down everything in the UK. I’m very excited about finally getting to live with my wife, it was sad being apart for our first anniversary this week and I hate the system that made us spend so long apart but it’s nearly over now. Plus she’s promised to have a Reese’s ice cream cake in the freezer when I arrive and what could be better than that?  It’s been a difficult time living apart and we’ve both suffered at times but now we get to reap the rewards. Starting again in another country is scary of course but I’m lucky to have a loving supportive partner who will make it as easy as she can for me and I know that with her beside me it’s going to be just fine. I really can’t wait to be there and to make a start.

    The most difficult thing at present is thinking about the goodbyes, obviously I’m going to miss my family and friends and I’m not going to see them very much after I emigrate. That’s a thought that lurks uncomfortably at the back of my mind every time I see someone, whether it’s the last time I see them before I go. It’s when you realise that you won’t see someone any more that you appreciate how much they mean to you. Now that I’m at the four week stage I will be seeing people for the last time and it’s going to be quite emotional I think. I’ve decided that I’m going to try and see as many people as I can before I go and just focus on having a good time with them so that I don’t regret it once I’m in America. I’m also thinking of all the things that I want to do before I go, things like having a BBQ at the beach (if the weather ever improves) and getting a few hikes in on Dartmoor. I’m determined not to waste any of the time that I have left.

   My preparations are coming along well so far, except that I have way too much stuff still so I need to get busy with selling, giving things away and throwing out the rest. Reducing my life into two suitcases is going to be an interesting way to find out what I view as important. Hopefully I’ll be logical or I’ll end up in the US with a suitcase full of Morrissey CD’s and books and no clothes to speak of. I’m going to scrap my car in the next few weeks, I’d sell it but it’s 14 years old and I wouldn’t wish that heap of French crap on my worst enemy! It’s so bad that I park it on a hill so I can bump start it every morning. I’m already getting fed up of having to phone companies to cancel direct debits and speaking to people who try and persuade me to stay with their company even though I’m emigrating. Hopefully by the time I next post I’ll have a lot more sorted and can post something a bit lighter 🙂