Twelve years ago today, I got on a plane with the remaining 2 suitcases of my belongings and came to Britain. It was only supposed to be a year at most before I headed back with Kevin to study midwifery at the University of Pennsylvania.
Plans changed. Laws changed. September 11th happend and the world changed. We stayed in a country I'd never intended of calling home.
Sometimes, being an expat is living an awesome adventure. It is finding a place (or a person) that you love so very much, you make it your home. It is immersing yourself in a culture. It is getting attention for the way you talk or the way you spell or the way you just are a little bit different.
Sometimes though, it is more like a direct blow to your chest that has been riddled with the holes of things that are lost. The ways in which you will always be outside and different. It is always being asked if we are going "home". It is Ellis, asking if my friend can be his mama because then he would be "really Scottish" or when I am going back to me "real family". It is missing tomatoes and watermelons and warmth.
I love my life, but the bad days are hard. I retrace the path that brought us here over and over in my mind. The choices and decisions, all made with the best intentions, that have lead us to a place we didn't know existed. It is a good place - full of friends and mountains and sea, fufilling work and happy children. But on the bad days, I have to wonder if we had known what we were giving up. If we had known , I don't know if we would have made the same choices...
...but here we are 12 years on. And today, I am mostly grateful for my adopted home the single most beautiful place I have ever seen, let alone lived. For the way Ellis rolls his "rrrr"s, particularly when he says "Gruffalo". For friends who are like family. For European coffee and non-GM soy milk. For free health care. For custard creams, haggis and tattie scones. For an amazing career and business that is deeply rooted here in Britain.
Here is to 12 years!