A little history: More than a decade ago, my British boyfriend and his accent swept me away from my San Francisco apartment and high-paying high-tech job to live in a small Thames Valley town full of antique shops and tea rooms. (Actually, it was nothing like that, a few months after I met him, I quit my job and showed up on his doorstep with seven suitcases).
The initial honeymoon period with my new homeland lasted barely two months. After that, the grey skies were really starting to bug me. So was the fact that EVERYTHING WAS HARDER HERE.
My poor boyfriend (now husband) had to install an American-sized water tank to make sure I had enough hot water, and a garbage disposal (in sink aerator) to make me feel like I was at home.
Heaven forbid if someone started SMOKING next to me in a restaurant. Future hubby feared those encounters the most, and would spend considerable time doing reconnaissance missions to scout out the least smokey establishment. He found a great one, a local Italian restaurant. Sometimes the pasta was soggy and the bruschetta a bit oily, but it was smoke free. Unfortunately it burned down a few months after he discovered it.
Just as I was about to come to terms with my destiny, my husband was offered a promotion in La Jolla – a city in California where the sun shines for 400 days of the year. We considered it for about two seconds, took the job and found a white stucco Spanish-style bungalow four houses from the beach. (We later found out the 1930s pipes were leaking sewage and it was full of rats, but that is another story).
We moved back to the Thames Valley last year. Emily was starting reception, and we had secured a place in a very popular local school.
If we didn’t come back, we were told we would lose the school place, and most likely never get in again. We would be offered a spot at a less desirable school (by council housing – shock, horror), and then we would be forced to send our hoard to fee-paying schools because we couldn’t possibly send our little angels to “that school”.
I briefly considered having our children baptised as Catholics to get them into to local Catholic school, but my husband pointed out that was not a good reason.
Come to think of it, I think my husband’s main worry was that our girls had acquired strong American accents. "Hey you guys” and “let's get outta here” were regular phrases in their vocabulary.
When I woke up today there was condensation on the windows and I turned on the heating. It is predicted to be 25C in La Jolla.
I know, I know, you can’t eat the weather.
But please remind me, why am I here?
This post was written by Susanna, An Expat Mums Blog founding contributor. You can read more at her blog, A Modern Mother.
Photo credit: scandblue