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Review of the year (+4 days)

Hello. This should have been written/posted on Wednesday when on May 2nd, I’d been here a whole year – but I was ill – really quite ill – and I hate being so ill that it prevents one from blogging. Therefore, let’s pretend that this post was done four days ago when it really had been 365 days later.

“How has your year been then Geoff?”. I could be writing. But let’s not do that. There is no Lucy this time, instead – just brief breakdown of my own thoughts of the most crazy 12 months of my life.

In May, I moved here. Some would say on a whim. Too soon, too fast, too crazy. I could concur with some of that now, but having the option of doing something crazy and managing to come out the other side a better and stronger person, than not taking the option in the first place, then I think I’d take the crazy option everytime. In fact, I’ve come to conclude that sometimes I think I take the crazy and hard option just to test myself to see if I manage to come through it or not. In short : May was a haze.

In June and July a pattern started to set in. I’d start to think that I was getting my head around this American life (with its lack of road signs, lack of familiar foods and miss-spelt words) when I would then come crashing down without warning. Sometimes for a day, often for more – the worst was a depressed four day period when I couldn’t pick myself up and feel positive or feel good about anything at all. But something would eventually come along to pick me up, I’d tell myself it was getting better and that – given time – it would continue to get better, albeit slowly.

In August I got a year older, and had a holiday (holiday from what?) and with turning 34 I got all moody and reflective again. The nice summer helped lift me, but it really only overshadowed that deep down there were certain things that I needed to sort and resolve and until I did then things were never going to get better. And so post-birthday and towards the end of August, things were not so good again.

And then September came along, the summer started to end and I had my hardest time. September was my worst month here so far for specific reasons which I’m not going to go into publicly – suffice to say that things got very bad to a very low point where I had to take major critical steps to resolve things – which is what I did.

184 days laterAnd from there, things picked up – slowly. October felt like a hazy May again, but around November certain things eventually, finally (at last!) clicked into place, and almost bang on the ‘magic’ six-month marker, the world became a happier place.

December was the run up to Christmas, post Christmas going into January was all about making a trip home for the first time in eight months, and wanker-drug-dealing-tenants that needed to be evicted, and friends that turned out to be arseholes when they showed their true colours aside, things were buzzing.

Back here, and things from February to April became focused on one thing. The wedding. The Wedding. And more wedding. Life is good.

And to now … a year later … a whole year which is a hell of a long time. And I stared at myself in the mirror this morning after getting out of the shower – naked – and looked the lines in my face. Tried to work out if I really looked a year older. Figured that maybe I looked a year wiser. And definitely summised that I was a whole year of life-experience stronger.

Which bring me to my salient points. In no particular order:

• I’m better than you. That’s an arrogant thing to say isn’t it? So i’ll tone it down a little and bring some reality to that statement. I recently got two emails off of people – one from a friend who came to the wedding, and one from someone that once gave me 50p and hadn’t checked my website in over two years and had just caught up with me to see what I was doing and sent me an email.

And the jist of the emails was the same. Moving was a ‘brave’ thing to do they wrote. Something they could ‘never do’ they both wrote. And way back in my life when I used to date a girl before Leigh who was also from overseas, I maintained that it was also something that I could never do. And yet here I am doing it. (I kinda hope that Leigh takes that as a compliment!). The point being is that I don’t think it’s unrealistic to say that what I’ve done here is something that the majority of the world don’t, and thus I’m getting to have an experience that only the minority do. So when I say ‘better’, I’m being arrogant (deliberately, for effect) but what I really mean is “I think it will shape me and change me in a way that doesn’t happen to a lot of other people”.

• There is a realisation that no matter how more settled I become here, and no matter how good things can be, and no matter how nice people are, and no matter how happy I am at the really happy moments, there will always always be those other small moments I’m afraid of where I get jolted into realising that it’s still just not quite the same as being back home somehow. These creep up on you at the most unexpected moments and hit you when you’re least expecting them. e.g This morning, I clicked online to discover that Frank Skinner (who I am a MASSIVE fan of) is doing a live stand up tour for the first time in eight years around the UK this autumn – which I would dearly love to see – but never will be able to because I am this side of the pond. This made me physically sad.

Bearing all this mind, I’m reminded of the fact that I’ve read plenty of times that the only way to truly get over this is to totally immerse yourself in the local culture. i.e instead of yearning for what you’re missing back home, get involved into what is going on locally, and make what is local feel like home. Meaning I should stop reading the BBC news pages and start reading the CNN ones instead. I should stop downloading Match of the Day off of BitTorrent, and go and see more local baseball games instead. I should stop whining about the lack of Ribena, and starting liking blackcurrant flavoured Tang instead. Right? Or ….

Would that also mean like I feel I’m cutting all my friends off from home as well. By talking to people at home about football scores, and moaning about the lack of certain products means that I stay in touch with people at home that I might not do otherwise, and I don’t want to cut my true friends and family off. So I need to find a balance, right?

• Finally, it’s quite likely that Leigh & I will not stay in Charleston forever, and move elsewhere, easily the UK – at somepoint in the future. So it’s not like we’re going to be here forever getting used to certain things. I have an image that ‘What i’m used to’ will in fact be ‘Not getting used to anything’ because I doubt that I will ever be truly settled again in the same place for a long time for the rest of my life. Being unsettled I suspect is something I’ll have to get used to. But we still have to decide when, and where, and how. And the logistics of the whole things and who will do what work, and how may phases of unsettling times will we go through before we perhaps decide that we have to stick somewhere for a period of time to help with certain things, e.g. Children. It’s a fuck of a lot to decide.

And to more one more final thing that I need to harp on about : Homesickness.

A year ago, the longest I had ever spent out of the country was when I toured round New Zealand for three weeks. I think on that trip I missed home on about day 18. And I thought that was homesickness. But … no!

Now I know what it feels like to be homesick. Properly. And yet the ghastly thing is that it’s almost impossible to describe to you what it feels like, and probably only those that have also felt it (properly) through their own experiences can relate to you and appreciate what you’re feeling.

The weird thing is that being homesick DOES NOT necessarily mean that you are having a bad time. I have had days when I am having a great time, but you still get homesick. And I still haven’t worked out the best way to deal with it when it kicks in – except to accept it, bide your time, wait for it to pass – and take a bonus from the fact that the gaps inbetween seem to be getting longer, and the duration for which it lasts when it arrives seem to be getting shorter.

So that’s me. A year on. That’s my review of the year, Geoff-style. I just needed to get it off of my chest. I think I’d of disappointed others and not just myself if I hadn’t of made a statement at this annual marker.

But I should also summarise that … life is good. It could be a whole lot shitter than it is. I feel quite fortunate compared to other people I know, but that doesn’t mean that mine is perfect or far from uncomplicated. It’s all relative, innit?

20 responses to “Review of the year (+4 days)”

  1. Rudi says:

    Thanks, Geoff. The perspective you show is incredible.

    You’re lucky, you’re blessed, and you’ve got a good head on your shoulders.

    And congrats on the nuptials!

  2. Agricola says:

    Nice post. I lived in England for two years…..I remember the homesick part like it was yesterday. More recently, I lived in many different parts of the US, moving about every two years for about 12 years. I can’t count the number of times I saw a thing, or felt something, that I really wanted to share with a friend but could not….they were too far away or too many time zones away. And, like you say, going home, to Sunny England, may be in the future. In the end, your life-long friends and the relationships that take years to establish are what make you feel at home, and by definition you can never have those things anywhere but home.

  3. Leanne says:

    No matter what you do, either you or Leigh will always be ‘far from home’, missing family, friends and places and things. But if you live long enough in the US, and then return to the UK, you may well find yourself after a period of time, missing family, friends and places and things from the US.

    I lived in the UK from 1995 to 2001 and then returned to NZ with Andy (my English husband). In the last 6 years I’ve had many instances of missing the family, friends, and places and things in the UK and now I have a hankering to go back and live there again.

    Being torn between two countries makes for amazing life experiences and yes, you end up being much stronger for it.

    Hang in there and make the most of your time in the US, now.

  4. It would be astonishing if, having yanked yourself out of UK normality, your first year in the States wasn’t mildly traumatic.

    But you’re still there, and happier, and married, and that’s damned impressive really.

  5. Reading this blog has made me realise what I blithely put my other half through 15 years ago when he made the crossing in the other direction. For two years he really hated it and missed the US, hated the UK beer, the sport, the roads, the weather, the people – then we went back to the States for a holiday and he was horrified: everyone was so loud, the roads were so wide, the beer was too cold, and nobody understood anything about cricket.
    So a year is too soon to be over the homesickness (and I know what that’s like, I went to boarding school) … but you’ll get there in the end, trust me.

  6. Hi Geoff,

    I recently emailed you about tubechallenge etc,

    I also had the opportunity to move away from home which I turned foolishly down which in some ways I’m glad I did. I never could have done it, you managed to do this so tremendously well.

    Kerrie (my wife) and I take our hats off to you sir.


  7. Anthony says:

    Hats off, indeed! I may never know what it is like to have such a drastic life-change, unless I end up emigrating to Australia with Chelle, but your ongoing account of happenings has been both fascinating and entertaining, and has seemed (from this end) level-headed in the face of adversity.

    Well done for making it to a year. It seems like only yesterday that we took that final Tube trip after Shepherd’s Bush.

  8. sam says:

    I noticed that my homesickness went away after a while but then maybe its because i have a definite date of when i’m going home.

    Even then i have found that the weirdest thing brings it on. Less than a month ago now i would have given anything to go home. It was a feeling of extreme lonleyness and confusion. But now im less than a month away from moving back to the UK for the near future and I don’t want to go.

    I will miss Colorado just as much as i missed England. Congratulations on sticking it out

  9. stroppycow says:

    Staying would have been the crazy option when it was possible to go without burning your bridges. What was the alternative? Pining and regrets?

  10. ClaphamCommuter(G's mum) says:

    You could just be a ‘Citizen of the world’ Geoff, not worry too much about where you actually are. If you shut your eyes you can be anywhere you want. Remember ‘Wherever I hang my hat is home’, assuming you where one that is. Having visited Charleston recently I must say it’s a very pleasant place, and of course Leigh is there, which must make it all the worthwhile. Some things are a bit grim here at the moment, and at least you’ve got the beach!

  11. Coco J. says:

    I agree with your mum. Charleston is an excellent place to live and you are in such a unique position to be able to live in the US. You don’t have to stay there forever, but try to enjoy it while you are there.

  12. CV says:

    Great insight #3 and I would echo the ‘make the most of it while you’re there’ sentiment. You’re right too about immersing yourself in what’s local, because you can only get that stuff while you’re there. Make the most of it coz you’ll miss it when/if you go off somewhere else!

    Life’s a journey. Don’t get hung up on the destination.

  13. ClaphamCommuter(G's mum) says:

    Read ‘Blue Witch’s’ blog 26th April quoting Rodin, might be relevant.

  14. Ciaran says:

    Goeff How goes. Congrats on the wedding and all that. Well done and may you have many happy years together.

    As regards homesickness. As soon as you get back here your realise What you are missing. Taxed to death, the ignorant tossers on public transport, the crap weather, the violent crime, the the Stalinist purges against the motorists who go a couple of notches over the speed limit, the below par customer service, the binge drinkers, the chavs, the selfishness, the rush hour, the swindle that is “green tax”, the lying caniving governemt who are so out of touch with the people its untrue, the political correctness, the blame culture, the ridiculous health and safety rules, the extortionate prices for football tickets etc.

    But do you know what. I still like it here! I must be mad. If I left, I’d miss it like crazy. I have mates who have moved to Oz and when they come back, they all say its great out there, but they all miss home like mad. Especially that great British institution, THE PUB. You just cannot recreate a British pub anywhere else in the world than in Britain.

  15. James says:

    I’m not sure how you can say you’re “better” than anyone else. Lots of people have done what you’ve done, without acquiring a superiority complex. Congratulations on moving and getting married and all that.

  16. zuzula says:

    The last 12 months have been an incredible journey for you. I can’t believe it’s been a whole year since you upped sticks! You’ve been very candid about the highs & lows of such a huge lifestyle change. Here’s hoping the next 12 months are a little more calm (if you’re sure that’s what you want!)

  17. ClaphamCommuter(G's mum) says:

    What about Leigh’s feelings in all this, after all she has had to put up with all your up and down moods,and
    what if you leave the U.S.A., won’t she have a difficult time in settling down where ever that is? One of you
    or both will always be away from ‘home’. That’s the problem with cross-continent relationships. I am very close to some-one who after 40 yrs, still talks of the ‘home’ where they were born and raised.

  18. geofftech says:

    #15 – James:

    You need to re-read the bit of of my post that quite clearly says –

    “So when I say ‘better’, I’m being arrogant for deliberate effect”.

    Also, lots of people have inddeed done what I’ve done, aye. But there are a hell of a lot more (i.e the majority) that haven’t. Okay?

  19. Jigna says:

    I have recently been advised to read your blog by my sisters friend, as i was trying to explain to her how it felt to leave all you know and love and move to the USA, my husband and I moved to Dallas from Yorkshire in February 2007……so I relate to your blog on many levels and it makes me think again, about my Grandparents who moved from India to the UK in the ’50’s and to the USA from the UK in the ’80’s what they did amazes me every day when I try to negotaite all the myriad differences between daily life in the UK and USA, but for them what they did was such a normal and natural thing that its nothing new, and depsite my “rootlessness” I do miss “home” so much, but where is my home? Leicester where I was brought up, London where I went to university and lived for 6 years or Yorkshire where I still own a home, India where my parents were born and I have never lived or Dallas where I now live?……….what I miss the most (as mentioned by yourself and other commentators) are the moments you cant share when you want to or need to with friends and family members in different time zones.

  20. shadwell says:

    I think there is always a bit of the ‘grass in always greener’ in all of us. This applies on all levels. Work, partners, houses, countries, appearance….the list goes on. So, wherever we are there is always a part of us which ankers for something different. In terms of moving abroad we anker for home because it is familiar to us. It provides us with security. Our friends and family are most likely to be back home. It is where we feel most comfortable and secure.

    When we move we have to establish new freindships and learn a whole new culture. We have moved out of our confort zone. But isn’t this normally a good thing ?

    My firm opinion is that the majority of people in life never move far from their comfort zone. Sometimes these people are happy but often they are not. It is difficult to generalise as we all have such different needs but, generally, it is the people in life who are prepared to push themselves and seek out new challenges are most likely to lead the most fulfilling lifes.

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