The main answer is work, the other answer is probably a form of mid-life crisis. But since I was just 60, probably better to call it an end of working life crisis. I have always wanted to live in America for a while, and I have travelled extensively across the continent with work, and for pleasure. I love America, I love Canada, but can I really uproot the family, two school age kids, and push them into American society? Hey, yes, what an adventure.
This blog is my means of recording the experience of it all. Partially to get it out of myself, cathartic and all that, and partially as a record for me and other interested parties. An adventure story.
Two countries, separated by one language……I have always found the differences amusing in the main, and hilarious in the extreme. But what is it like to live in a foreign land, a foreign land with the same language, and a culture that one is confronted with every day via the media?
So, to begin at the beginning, we set ourselves an impossible job. To pass a visa interview and then move in exactly 5 weeks.
It was impossible, apart from the fact that I have some wonderful friends who packed, who stacked, and most importantly, who looked after the things that spilled over the edge of the abyss. Stella “the every wonderful” is still trying to rent our house out, John sold Heather’s car, Jason and Rob sorted the things that were falling off the house. In passing, I have to say that selling cars privately is a strange world that I hadn’t been in for 35 years, and I hope never to have to inhabit again. I now realise that they are a strange people who buy second hand cars privately advertised on web sites.
So, a simple decision to limit our possessions and force us to “travel light” led me to impose a baggage limit on the family. No shipping, if you can carry it, it must be worth taking. So we left England on a drab Wednesday, and 25 hours later arrived in Denver, Colorado, with our 16 suitcases still intact.
“16?” Yep, this wasn’t the right way to do it, but we didn’t know that until we changed planes at Dallas, and had to pick up the bags, despite BA assuring me that the luggage was booked straight through. But that is all best ignored and long forgotten, I can perhaps even find it funny now…… image two adults, two children, 16 bags (and hand luggage) running through Dallas airport trying to reach a connection that had already left. Yes, there were tears.
So we get out of bed on a Thursday morning in a hotel in Denver, tired, grumpy, and stressed. But the sun shines, and the American way soon washes over us.
Skip forward to Saturday at 6pm, and I am sat in my new home, on my new “Simpsons” settee, watching my new TV, with full cable connection, and fast internet.
Leaving aside the fact that we rented a house unseen, from an advert on the Web on Craig’s List, which I still think was one of the most bizarre things I have ever done, the rest of the story is an everyday story of American folk. Things happen in America, service is paramount. When the cable folk said on Friday we would be online the following day…….we were. Buying the furniture from a store & warehouse which is the size of 17 football pitches is bizarre enough to a mere Englishman. But then the delivery guys turned up early two days later, were polite, ran up the path carrying our new possessions, and even agreed to replace an item we had ordered by mistake.
Yes, the American Dream does exist. I have repeated this story to a number of newish American friends and they don’t get it. Why wouldn’t this all happen? Because in England I know a family who haven’t had an internet connection for two months after moving in, because every delivery man I have ever met in the UK is grumpy, mainly rude, and certainly not flexible.
I love America. But there are some very strange things about the country, some things that are worth exploring, and some that are just plain wrong……(to be continued)