Sunday, July 4, 2010

Wherever I Lay My Hat

This week’s post is from Toni, who is on a sojourn in her native country.

They say home is where the heart is, and I’m in a quandary.

I landed in my beloved England on June 30th and well, my heart (in the shape of three kids, the Ball & Chain and the mad mutt) was still in the States. Furthermore, despite having lived in Wimbledon for four years in the 1980’s, I only half knew where I was as my mate Di drove me to her house. (The one way system was never that complicated when I lived there and I’m relieved not to be driving this week.)

It was great to hear English accents all around me, and to ask for something in WH Smith without most of the shoppers turning round to see where the funny accent was coming from. The prices were a bit of a blow to the solar plexus mind you. How do you people afford to live here? And then the adopted American in me kicked in as I waited for two and a half hours (ish) in Café Nero for two cups of tea. “Come on girls, you’ll have plenty of time to talk about your weekend plans when you’re NOT WORKING”, my inner voiced screamed. Oh for the manic efficiency of my local Starbucks.

Then there are the bathrooms with no toilet that I forgot all about. In many lovely Victorian houses like where I’m staying, the loo is a small room by itself as opposed to being part of a larger bathroom. This is fab as it means that you never have anyone knocking on the door when you’re taking a shower and telling you to hurry up because they’re dying for a wee. (I realize that this doesn’t happen often in the States as many houses have a least two toilets, but in more modern houses in the UK it’s not unknown.)

The biggest thing about coming back to your country of origin after many years of living abroad is the feeling of being in an altered state. You know where you are and what you’re supposed to be doing, but everything’s just that little bit different.

As Mike said, when we discussed this, “It’s like waking up from a dream” but I would venture to say that when things change as much as they have in the UK over the last twenty years, it’s like waking up from a dream and finding you’re still in a dream. If you know what I mean: It’s life Jim, but not as we know it.


It's life, Jim, but not as we know it.

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  1. Hope you have a wonderful stay and at least the weather is good.
    You must miss the rest of the family though. It must be like being torn in two wherever you go.
    Maggie X

    Nuts in May

  2. Good post! One that a lot of expats can easily relate to. It's all part of the expat condition--the visits 'home' (?!) and the disorientation mixed with relief. I wonder if knowing you may blog about it helps or highlights the ups or downs?? I find blogging helps me to see the funny, or at least entertaining side of my experience!

  3. Good post! I'm going back myself in August for a couple of weeks - wonder if I'll find it changed a year later? I hope you enjoyed Cybermummy- so sorry not to be there...

  4. I'll be back in the UK this summer for the first time in 4.5 years. I will have to drive though. I've already been warned that it will cost a small fortune to fill the car up :-( As you say, I don't know how people can afford to live there!

  5. Great post! I know that 'altered state' all too well when I visit the States after living in London the past 10 years. It's just weird, isn't it? By the end of my visit, I'm ready to go 'home' to London. Great to meet you on Saturday. Am still thinking about the whole e-book thing and feeling sad about the publishing future:(

  6. I know exactly what you mean, it is especially weird when handling the money - I haven't lost my English accent so people look at me like I am bit simple when I cannot work out which coins to hand over - oh and also I find everyone seems a bit of a caricature - is that just me?

  7. Oh Lord. Sounds like Jock will be one of those turning heads in Barnes and Noble. I keep thinking that going back to the states will be one of reverting back to my childhood - let's just hope that's not the case. I agree with Michelle, blogging helps...a lot.
    One of the biggest things for - I'm looking forward to knowing how to flush the toilet again. I swear, if you don't get the right tug on the handle on the toilets in the UK, nothing will flush!

  8. Ah yes, but these bloody low flush toilets (compulsory in Chicago) mean that they often don't flush at all. Everyone has a plunger somewhere in the bathroom.


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