Cons (i.e. reasons to stay put...)
1. Our Home. Not our house, but our home. I do not have any family in this country, and my husband's is also remote. But somehow we have managed to find ourselves with a (if I do say so myself) gorgeous older home in an honest-to-god Community. Our neighbors have become our dear friends. In fact, we call it the "Enablerhood"--we skit across to one another's houses, kids in tow, Flyer wagons loaded with bottles of booze and delicious snack-food items, and then wax lyrical (after a few tipples) over how lucky we are to live in the 'hood and to have found this commuuuuunity. (Yes. I am commuuuuunity obsessed, even in real life). When I was preggo with Baby Boy, we did not have to think twice about enlisting the help of neighbors to jump into action when we hotfooted it to the hospital, and our 4 yr old did not bat an eye over "sleeping over" next door while mummy had the baby.
Our home. i.e our friends. It would be very hard to leave this part of our lives behind. (though they would have a great vacation destination, no?)
2. And also our house. Our things. Though life is much more than material things we collect around us, it's pretty hard to just cut loose from it all. I LOVE MY THINGS!!!! Our house is an old colonial, and by British standards it is large and airy. It's got green siding and cherry red shutters and shiny red front door. (sniff...) It has several bathrooms and a big fat ass refrigerator, and is just easy to live in... Could I ever, ever go back to not having a downstairs loo??? It is also filled with things like furniture, and pictures, and bedding and curtains. There would be a day when we'd put price stickers on it all, and open our home to strangers and let them cart it away for the right (or wrong) price. GULP. And the minivan. The mini-vaaaaaaan!!!!!
3. Income. Income is good. We have one. We have jobs, and they pay the bills. We live comfortably, and we both quite like our jobs. And the cost of living here is so, so much cheaper than the UK, where the housing market is through the fucking roof. Income in Britain, so far, is a very uncertain thing. Though ideally one of us would get a job before we made the move, realistically it's very hard to compete for a position when you are across the Atlantic. A move over there would likely take an enormous leap of faith. It's a frightening prospect, especially with two children. I am sure we can make it happen, we do have skillz after all (as long as we're not looking for academic teaching jobs, which are pretty much out of the question--but there are other interesting options).
4. America The Beautiful... Say what you want about this country, but it's a pretty amazing place, and it's been good to me. It's a cliche, but American is just friendly, and you only have to be back in the UK for two minutes, growled at by a surly shop assistant and you're off dreaming of the days when you were being stalked around Macy's by someone with a "canIhelpyou??" grin plastered on her face. I would miss "Have a nice day" because though it is a nicety, in my experience people actually mean it. I would miss not being asked by the supermarket cashier "how are you?" and saying in return "I'm fine. How are you?" I would miss my OB-GYN office and its soft furnishings and roaring (gas) fire welcoming me in the waiting room. I would miss humane dentists.
Ah. yes. I am not even gone, and I am idealizing already... I'm going to have to watch that.
So. The pros (i.e. why we should do it):
1. My family. Now with two children, yearly visits from/to the grandparents just seem woefully inadequate. Now, with two children, I know how awful it must have been for my mother and father to pack me off on that plane (gulp) fifteen years ago, 21 and clueless. I was meant to be here for two years, and since then all the big life announcements (I'm engaged! I'm pregnant!) have all taken over long distance phone calls, as have the moments where my father has undergone triple bypass surgery, or when I am told that one of my grandparents has passed away... and "people will understand if you can't make it to the funeral..."
Last week at school, my 4yr old had to answer "Does your Mommy have any brothers or sisters?" And there on that sheet of paper was his answer: No.
I have a brother. Did you know that? Yes. One baby brother. And he and his partner had a baby two months ago, a baby I have never seen except through digital photos, and who I am not likely to see until at least Christmas. Of course, Jack does know about "Uncle Jonathan" but he's not seen him in 18 months, and so he...forgets.
2. It's Time to Move On. Despite loving our house and our neighborhood, we have lived in this area for as long as I have been in this country. If you had told me at 21 that I would be settled here with a spouse, a mortgage, two children, a lab, and a minivan, I'd have laughed in your face. And then I would have become very, very afraid. And then I would have become hysterical.
We've made a great life for ourselves here, here in Lansing, Michigan. This is home, and we love much about it.
Do we want to be here in five years? In ten years? I am not so sure.
And I come up with the same answer when I look at my job. Again, I love my work, and enjoy the people I work with, but in many ways I have gone as far as a non-tenure tracked academic can go in a position like mine. I attended Grad school here, and in many ways, until we make the change I will feel like the eternal faker, and the Old Man often feels the same way.
3. Custard Creams and Cadbury's chocolate in plentiful supply... And Sarah, a sweet and funny blogging friend, a Kent girl just like me, sent me a care package containing those items this week. This, along with her stunning photographs of the countryside where I grew up make it very hard to not feel homesick...
Damn you woman!!!
(THANK you Sarah!)
Well. No doubt this little saga will rear it's head a few more times in the next few months. (months? years?) But right now my head is filled devising a master plan for our return in the next year to eighteen months. The paperwork alone is mindboggling, not least because ironically I find that if we do it, it would be a very good idea to become a citizen of the U.S.A. before we go, because if we ever change our minds, or the boys want to take up residency here as adults, it would be very difficult for me to come back. The Green Card would go "poof!" after 364 days. Yikes!
Fact is, if we are going to do it, it has to be soonish, before my boys get older and then hate me forever for depriving them of basketball and "football" and baseball and, and....make them speak in poncey English accents, or worst still, make them objects of derision because they say "budder" and "blahg"
Oy. The handwringing.
On the other hand, it is also exciting.
Thanks for bearing with me, folks. I'll keep you up-to-date.
(and, God, even clicking on "Publish" is frightening--somehow commits this as something very real... Gaaaaah!)