This week was our first anniversary of living in the UK! I am now conversational in Yorkshire, know that jelly is Jell-O and a Ariel isn’t just the Little Mermaid, it’s also a car’s antenna. I look right first when crossing the street and can navigate roundabouts on my bike. My love affair with old British houses had only become more passionate with time and sometimes I even eat beans on toast.
But there’s no denying it – I’m still an American. Brits love to impersonate my accent in the most inaccurate and nasal voice imaginable. I still long for ice water and garbage disposals. I dream of sunshine and warmth. I have to remind myself to say “zed” instead of “zee” when I see the letter “z.”
It’s funny what living abroad can do to your sense of belonging… I know I don’t belong in the UK but then I also start worrying that I won’t feel at home in the US either. I think whenever you’re living abroad it’s all too easy to idealize your homeland. Nostalgia is a powerful thing. Somehow I always picture DC as sunny and with the cherry blossoms in full bloom. But then I get paranoid because I know the US is far from perfect. Nevertheless, something about being abroad makes you want to defend your country from criticism. Like when you’re little, it’s ok for you to complain about your mom but as soon as your friend makes the slightest negative remark about her, you come rushing to her defense.
And when people ask you – “What’s blank like in the States?” or “How do they do so-and-so where you’re from?” how can you answer? There’s such diversity and differences even within my own homeland. And yet I’m constantly comparing the UK and US… trying to make sense of who I am and how my culture has shaped me. It’s hard to know where “home” is, and harder still to realise whenever you return it will have changed.
But then, perhaps belonging isn’t about a place. Regardless of location it’s good to know that Dan & I belong together. And I guess when it comes down to it, perhaps I don’t feel at home on this earth because I’m a citizen of another kingdom.