This time last year we left our house in Reading early in the morning, when it was still dark, having said goodbye to our friends and family during the previous week. I cried all the way to the airport, at the airport and on the plane! The plane left for Houston at 10.25am on 24th January 2012, with us not knowing how long we were going for; maybe a few weeks, maybe 6 months.
I certainly didn’t expect to still be sitting in Houston 1 year on!
It’s been such a busy year, with lots of adventures and learning along the way. We’ve seen places and things we never would have seen if we’d stayed at home and we’ve more adventures coming up (including Disney World next month which the girls are hugely excited about, and so are we, secretly!)
We’ve realised that if we stick together as a family then we can make anywhere seem like home. As long as we can get hold of some Cadburys chocolate and we’ve got access to Skype, that is. (You should see the huge amount of Cadburys chocolate I carried back on the plane last week from England – 3/4 of the weight of my baggage was children’s books and chocolate and I’m in no way exaggerating! If they’d checked my luggage the customs people would have thought I was starting an import business…)
And most days it doesn’t even seem that strange to be here anymore. Driving around here is normal, we understand how the shops and the post (mail) works now, and we can even find most things we miss from home (Heinz Baked Beans and Ribena are now delivered by Amazon.com are great expense!) The girls are settled at school, although they’d still prefer to stay home most days(!) and they have some friends that they can meet up and play with.
If only we could get over missing everyone at home so much, this would be pretty easy.
The homesickness is far less than it was, although the girls and I still have the occasional day when we want to curl up on the sofa, watch BBC television and speak to people at home all day (and when they’ve gone to bed, eat lots of Cadburys chocolate instead!) And it can strike at any time, without warning or reason, such as yesterday, for example, when a benign text from a friend at home gave me a wobbly half hour.
The (almost) constant sunshine is bliss, though. Just stepping outside and feeling the sun on your skin is enough to make you smile even on a bad day (as long as it’s not the middle of July when it’s more likely to instantly burn you!) And we can’t wait for the pool to get warm enough for us to swim. This time last year we took our first dip in the pool and it was very cold but it didn’t stop us. This year we are far too used to the heat to even think about even paddling in the 17c swimming pool water – we’re far too soft for that kind of temperature.
(I’m trying not to think about the mosquitoes, cockroaches and humidity until they return with a vengeance in the not too distant future…)
So, where will we be in another year? Will I still be writing LongAmericanHoliday (it will have become a ridiculously long holiday by then)? Who knows. The one thing I can definitely say about our expat experience so far is that nothing is definite for very long!