Happy 4th of July to all my American friends! Hope you had a good day waving the flag, as did the Canadians just a few days earlier.
All this national patriotism made me think about my own situation, about being an immigrant. I moved to England in 1996, so I have been here 16 years with only one visit back to Vancouver. We decided to move here June 21, the first day of summer.
I vividly remember on arrival the biggest and fullest of my suitcases had popped open when it came down the conveyor belt at the airport and one of my shoes was travelling solo next to the case!
Our move was a bit of a palava, as most moves are. I packed and packed and packed. Gorgeous Husband didn't want to know. We had 5 yard sales to divest ourselves of our treasures. The last day, I remember leaving a pile of "good stuff" on the front porch after arranging for a charity to collect it. I hope they did.
I discovered the thing about packing was that once we had been here for some time and finally got the boxes out of storage, I was aghast at what I had brought across the world. "Why did I pack THAT? " I said to GH, who very kindly said, "Well, it must have been important at the time." Talk about diplomacy!
Anyway, about being an immigrant, I got to thinking and realized:
I am an immigrant (Canada to Britain)
Gorgeous Husband was an immigrant (Britain to Canada)
My father was an immigrant (Norway to Canada)
My maternal grandparents were immigrants (Sweden to USA)
Two of my teachers were immigrants (Wales and Ireland to Canada)
My godparents were immigrants (Norway to Canada)
So, there has been a lot of "upping sticks" and moving to pastures new in my background. Maybe that's why I didn't find it to be such an inconceivable thing to do. Do I regret it? No, never.
I had a crazy notion the very first time that I saw England that I wanted to live here. It was a gut feeling, based on nothing at all. Maybe that's why it has worked out for me.
This is what I have found different about living in Britain. How I see things, using my North American eyes:
In Britain, it is common to have the washing machine in the kitchen.
Not many people have driers, so they hang clothes out on the line. But interestingly, hardly anybody has a covered area outside where the washing line is, so you hear people at work look at the rain and say, "Oh, no! I've got washing out!"
British women are obsessed with ironing. Most of them hate it, but it is a guaranteed topic of conversation. "Oh, I've got all this ironing to do." Honestly, they save it up in baskets. I have even heard of women ironing bath towels. (I swear this is true.) I just iron what I need, when I need it (slob that I am!)
I have heard people talk about throwing litter "on the floor" when they mean the ground. Even in media, I have heard of a jockey being thrown from his horse "onto the floor". At first I used to wonder what building they were in, until I realized they were talking about the ground.
In real estate, they have what they call "chains". I had no idea what this was until it was explained to me. It goes like this: I will buy your house as soon as I sell mine, and then my buyer will buy mine as soon as his buyer buys his, etc. Hence a chain of people, each dependent on the other to sell their property. It's madness! British people also agree that it is madness, but it comes from people not being willing or able to find a place to rent while the deal goes through. You often hear that the deal fell through because someone down the chain "lost" their buyer. I think this needs to be changed, but I don't know how, and I'm not the person to do it.
Houses in Britain are made of brick. There is a real prejudice against wooden houses, and almost no one has one. I have heard (not sure if this is still true) that you can't get a mortgage on a wooden house. To be honest, that is one thing I do miss about North America: the wooden houses. I guess they are inclined to build things to last for centuries here.
So, all in all, would I ever be an immigrant again? I don't know. As I have often said, only if I have a really sweet deal on offer and a guarantee that it will work out. I must be getting old and unadventurous!