Monday, July 1, 2013

Time to go "Home".

So I'm coming to the end of my annual trip to the UK. The menfolk have gone today and I have a few more days on my own.

Every year there are more and more things in the UK that are "unfamiliar" to me, making me wonder just exactly where I belong these days. I have lived in the USA for 23 years, 22 of those being in Chicago. That's the longest period I have ever lived anywhere, but I don't usually call it home. We have no family there and I could leave it tomorrow. The kids were all born there however, so I have a feeling Chicago will always be in my life, even if I don't live there.

I always feel like I'm coming home when I land in the UK. I talk like everyone else, I know the customs, the unwritten rules etc. But more and more of it is new to me. This year I successfully managed to put my pound coin in the supermarket trolley (I usually can't figure out what to do and end up just grabbing a basket). However, I still don't know what the "red button" on the TV remote control is for, and I still don't have a credit card with a chip and pin in it, making me stand out like a sore thumb. The other day, I handed over my credit card and chatted to a sales assistant quite amiably; she then asked me for my passport. I was shocked. Did I sound American to her? Surely not. She explained that she'd clocked my credit card as "not English" and followed "tourist procedures". The experience has left me a little wobbly to say the least.

I'm getting on the plane on Friday, but where am I going?......

15 comments:

  1. Don't feel bad; I've lived here almost nine years and I don't know what the red button is for either.

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  2. I feel exactly like this every time I go back to England. I wonder if as expat you ever really know where 'home' is?

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  3. I know this feeling well.

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  4. Me too. I have lived in the States for fifty years after twenty and change in England. I suffer from increasing nostalgia—even though I know nothing is the same. It is specific people I miss. I read more and more books set in England and I try not to let home sickness worry me. Off to watch Wimbledon!

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  5. It's a family fragmenter, all right. Your children will always call Chicago home. I raised my children in my husband's home town. Now I've moved "back" but they call where they grew up "home" and live and work near there.

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  6. I totally understand. We are mid-Atlantic now. 'Home' lives in our memories. Although, I really am beginning to think of Devon as my home. I eagerly chose to be here and hopefully, someday, it will really be Home.
    'We' and 'Us' really get me. I can say 'we' meaning here in England, and one sentance later say 'we' meaning Americans. Meh.

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  8. I know that feeling exactly. I have lived in America 17 years and in Germany for 6 before that. There is always that odd feeling of feeling like a duck out of water in England but somehow know it is "home". I also often wonder where I actually belong. My kids were born here so for us Massachusetts has become home. Just wish the flights back to see family weren't so much!!

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  9. It's not just an expat thing (although I'm sure with the expat thing it's far more pronounced). Every time I go home to Texas I feel like a visitor; even though I still call Texas "home". My son, although born in Texas and rightfully considered a "Native Texan" doesn't remember it all nor does he consider it home.

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  10. I hope, at any rate, that you had a good visit, and saw the sun a time or two. I know what you are going through; it is strange to belong to two countries, and yet belong to neither.

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  11. Hmmmm.... Good to see I'm not the only one thinking like this. It's a very strange thing. I might have to write more on it.

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  12. As I've lived in the US less than three years, I must admit that I do know about the red button. lol Plus I have a British bank account, as well as a US one, so will use my Brit card when I go back.

    I think that weirdly, Britain has a built-in expat culture in some ways. Because of the old empire, Brits have been living abroad for a long time but still seeing Blighty as home.

    I actually feel that being in Chicago would seem more like home to me than being in a smallish city in North Florida, in some ways. I certainly felt more familiar with the culture when I was up in the New York/Long Island area. The South is another world.

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  13. Also love your observations about the differences...My Kiwi accent just gets more and more extreme says my friends here. And I still could not handle doing the London grocery store checkout - which I saw there before here. As David Sedaris says I love not being forever an Expat - nothing is my fault!!!

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  14. Write more on it, this expat thing of kind of always being "other" except amongst ourselves. Out with other serial expats the other night--they have started a new stint in Houston--discussing how expats make up their own community.
    And funny, but I do have a chip and pin card, but I can never remember the number. Lately I've had to use my sign cards. I need to reset the pin as soon as I get back to London this week.
    Also, didn't you used to be @expatmum? Now I have vague recollections of you changing your handle, but I've used the old one a few times in the past week. Gotta remember next time.

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  15. AHLondon - no, the Twitter expatmum wasn't me so I have always just used my name. I hope you didn't get into too many political arguments with her!!! ;-)

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