It all started in Ireland, but the story of how and why I ended up there would, itself, fill a book. And some day I hope it will, but for now, let’s just say I went to Ireland. Let’s also agree that, during a time in my life, escaping to Ireland had been a very attractive prospect, so during my trip to Ireland, I did have, in the back of my mind, the thought that I might have ended up living there.
Happily, that had not been necessary. As fetching as the country turned out to be, and as friendly the people and inviting the Guinness, I just didn’t feel the country calling to me in any meaningful way. In short, I would not have chosen to live there, which reinforced the idea that Americans, who already live in the greatest country in the world, are best to stay put.
As it happens, while in Ireland, I fell in love with a young woman from England. Two months later, when I went to Sussex to visit her, I found myself feeling strangely at home. My initial thought—as I looked around me while dragging my suitcase along the sidewalk and following a man who turned out to be my future father-in-law–was that I could happily live there. This was, however, irrelevant: if anyone was going anywhere, it would be to America because, as anyone can tell you, everyone wants to live in America.
But someone forgot to tell my beloved this, and she surprised me—during a lovely walk along the Brighton prom where we discussed the ins and outs of a long-distance relationship—by revealing that she would prefer to not live in America. We went to bed that night with the issue unresolved.
As I lay on a futon in a spare bedroom smaller than an American walk-in closet, I mulled over this surprising turn of events and, during those dark hours, determined that I could, and would, become an expatriate.
At breakfast the following morning, I informed this woman—who, in truth, I barely knew—that I would move to England if she would have me, and the ensuing conversation gave rise to the most hypothetical marriage proposal in history:
“Then we could live together,” she suggested.
“Well, if I gave up my job and moved over here, I would want you to marry me. So, if I did move over here, would you marry me?”
“I suppose, if you did move over here, then I would marry you.”
The rest, as they say, is history.
It's to no one's surprise that I ended up an expat (or would that be "immigrant" since I'm now a citizen?). My mother always thought I'd live abroad, and indeed, I didn't take a gap year off as I thought I'd wander the planet for a few decades before finally realising that I should probably get myself a real job, which would in turn, necessitate further studying at the ripe old age of say, about 35. It's rather surprising however, that my expat-ness should be in the USA. I had visions of me trailing around some hot, dusty Mediterrenean country or beyond, rather than surviving the torture that is a Chicago winter.
There I was, working for the corporate behemoth in London, when in walks a giant American on secondment from the Dallas office. Two years later he was back on the plane and that was that. We split up. Then we got back together again and tried the long distance relationship thing. In those days there was no e-mailing, and his hand-writing was so bad I used to have to ring him up to ask what on earth his letters said. Anyway, long, complicated story short, we married in London and when my visa eventually came through about a month or two later, I hopped on a plane to Dallas and joined my shiny new husband. None of this "Do I fit here?" malarkey. I mean, it's the USA fer cryin' out loud. They speak English. How hard can it be? Well, let's just say you could write a book about it.
PS. If Mike has the most hypothetical marriage proposal in history, mine has to be the most confused (at least at the beginning). So there we were at dinner, the Ball & Chain having popped back from the States to tie up some work, and us trying out this ridiculous long-distance relationship. To say things were a bit tense would be a gargantuan understatement - me chattering insanely, about anything and everything, the B&C - well I wasn't quite sure what was going on in his head.
At one point he looks at me and says "It's all a bit difficult this long distance relationship isn't it?", to which I hastily replied "Oh, I don't want to talk about it now. Can we just finish dinner first please?" Poor chap had been about to propose and I thought we were about to become history. Bloody typical.
And the rest, as they say.....
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