In 2010 I emigrated to England from the US. Though I’d lived there for most of 2009, and as an MA student a few years prior, this was permanent. I wasn’t a tourist, student, or testing a relationship. With 2 checked bags at max weight and as many carry-ons as I could, well, carry, I moved to my new home. And over the next 10 years, I moved more of my stuff over each time I came home to visit.
Because even though my home was in England—we bought a house and everything—home was still in the Pacific Northwest. Despite settling in Yorkshire, it was always the intent to move to the west coast of the US. But international moves are difficult at the best of times, and inertia set in (and the 2016 elections). But in claiming both places as home, I ended up not being quite at home in either place. Even after 13 years, people still commented on my strong US accent (answering strangers’ questions about my personal life will never not be annoying), and there were some things I could never get used to, like the near obsessive reverence and blind following of tradition.
At the same time, every time we came back to the US to visit, it felt a little less familiar, a little more foreign (and ironically, people commented on my changing accent). I couldn’t put my finger on most of it, but over the years, both the Pac NW and I changed. My home wasn’t exactly my home any more.
And yet in May of this year, I moved back. A process we started a week before the UK’s first Covid lockdown in March 2020 finally wrapped up May 31st when we walked out of SeaTac airport with a stamped visa in my partner’s passport (actually, it wrapped up June 1st when our dog was delivered to us). And so I’ve begun the process of relearning what it is to be American in America.
Bread is too sweet. Cars don’t have annual safety and emissions inspections. Despite the ACA, healthcare remains an expensive privilege, not a basic right. Annual leave is minimal. Maternity/family leave is non-existent. Guns are everywhere. Conversely, my son will grow up surrounded by people of every colour and a multitude of languages and cultures.
I’m not sure what our future holds, and honestly, I’m not even sure if I’m hopeful for it. But it’s another step, and another adventure. And at least we’re lucky enough to be able to go on it together.
Girl Museum Inc.