An Interview with … Texas Dave
"I was born in the North of England in 1970, the 3rd son of a family of 3 boys and one girl. I married, (and subsequently divorced), very young, and have a 14 year old daughter who still lives in England with her mum. My daughter visits me in the US but she has no plans to move here. I moved to the US on a H1B visa, but have since married my US wife and adjusted status." Read on to find out how Dave met his wife and moved to the USA.
Tell us a little about yourself and family.
I was born in the North of England in 1970, the 3rd son of a family of 3 boys and one girl. I married (and subsequently divorced) very young (married 21, divorced 24) and have a 14 year old daughter who still lives in England with her mum. My daughter visits me in the US but she has no plans to move here. I moved to the US on a H1B visa, but have since married my US wife and adjusted status. I live in Texas with our 2 dogs, 3 cats and 2 horses.
What were your reasons for moving to the USA?
Back in January 2005 I was sat at home in England on paid vacation. I had 3 weeks to use up and wondered what I would do with my time. It had been several years since I took a foreign vacation, so I was looking for something exciting to do. I was single at the time, all my friends were working and unable to take any time off. I had always dreamed of visiting America, but had never before had the opportunity.
I decided I would take a trip to the USA on my own, hire a car and visit all the places I had dreamed of. Needing a starting point I did a bit of searching on the Internet. The choices were overwhelming, and I began to wonder if I’d ever decide where to start!
I owned and rode a horse in England (Dressage) so figured I would just search for a Dressage event during the time I would be visiting. The first result was Robert Dover hosting a Dressage symposium in Houston, Texas. Well I hadn’t even considered Texas as a place to visit, so this sold it for me – Texas it was!
I booked a 19 day return flight to Houston Texas, and hired a bright orange Ford Mustang convertible. I naively thought I could see all America by car, drive to New York one day, San Francisco the next etc. It seems so silly looking back, but that was my real belief at the time. As the reality would show this was impossible and I never made it out of Texas during those 19 days. I attended the symposium on a remarkably cold January morning. When I say cold, I mean really cold. I’d dressed inappropriately for the weather so was miserably cold and shivering. I’d sat a few feet from a gorgeous red head girl, not by chance might I add. This girl must have watched me shiver and stalked her prey (LOL) and moved closer to strike up a conversation. She offered to share her blanket, and we watched the rest of the symposium together. I spent the whole 19 days in Texas, visiting Dallas, Houston, San Antonio, Austin, Calvert etc. We fell in love immediately and promised we would see each other again after I returned to the UK.
On the day I was to return to England it was a very tearful occasion. Sue now tells me she wondered if we would ever see each other again. Back in England we stayed in touch by phone, at least an hour a day, every day. Spring break was approaching, so I hatched a plan. I bought a 2 week return ticket for Sue to fly to England to visit me!
A whirlwind 2 weeks of visiting London, Edinburgh, The Lake District, a few horse races in Cumbria we say as much of the UK as we had time to do. All too soon it was time for her to return to her studies (she is in her final year of training to become a doctor). Determined to be together, and Sue still being in school, we decided I would have to go to the US. Easy I thought, pack up my stuff and move over there – big, big, big reality shock. The reality was find a job (hard to do when your in England), this job has to be skilled and a job no suitably skilled American can be found to do; The employer has to be willing to sponsor you, etc etc etc. We could have just married and taken that route, but I felt this would appear to some to be a marriage of convenience, so a H1B visa it was going to be.
How long did the emigration process take?
I found a job in April 2005. I was able to emigrate in October 2005. I did however stay in the US between these dates on a VWP (Visa Waiver Program). I had to leave the US to avoid overstaying. This was a fantastic stroke of luck! We took my Jeep and drove from Texas to Canada (taking an exploratory route, so the total trip was 6,000 miles). Visiting all the cool places I never got to see on my initial visit. The Grand Canyon, Rosswell (a big let down), Calrsbad Caverns, The Golden Gate bridge, Sandia Peaks, Venice Beach, Pikes Market the list goes on and on and on. We drove from Venice Beach all the way up the full length of The Pacific Coast highway – breath talking! Anyway, on Arriving in Canada Sue had to fly back to school, and I had to sit and wait for visa approval. I lived in a log cabin by the lake, no electricity, no running water. A Bald Eagles nested in a tree above my cabin, bears and cougars shared the woods. 22 horses to choose to ride each day – I still look back in awe at the experience. I was truly blessed.
In which state do you live in?
In your opinion what are the biggest differences between the USA and the UK?
The most noticeable are the poverty gap, the intense racism still in the small rural towns, and the inward looking population (I haven’t met anyone who seems to care about anything outside the US or the US interests.). Being English had always meant a sense of fairness, looking out for others and a sense of the community (I lived in a small village, before you start to wonder which England I talk of).
Things really are bigger here too. Everything comes in giant sizes, oddly with the exception of butter which is always in silly little thin blocks.
In America you really can be anything you want. It is far less class structured. I can never be President, as I wasn’t born in the US, but other than that I can be anything I choose. This is the first time I have ever truly felt that could happen (maybe some of this realization has come with age).
What are some of the things you enjoy most about living in the USA?
My English accent gives me authority. I can talk about anything and people will presume I know exactly what I am talking about simply because of my accent. Friends value my opinion on fine wine etc, just because I have an English accent!
The cost of homes here is amazingly inexpensive. We are looking at buying our first US home when Sue graduates next year. 20 acres of land for our horses, a huge house, a pool, and all for less than a decent town house in England.
America (Texas at least) is very open. I don’t feel claustrophobic here.
My commute time went from 1 hour 30 minutes each way, to 8 minutes each way.
I am debt free for the first time in my adult life. I can afford to live comfortably without having to work really long hours. Although work is busy at the moment, I am working because of the need for my skills and not my need for the money. I don’t have to work extra hours, I have a choice now.
I’m a big spoiled kid who loves gadgets and toys. I love the fact I can fill my 6 liter jeep without taking bank loan out. My TV is big. My horse trailer is big. I can own and shoot a gun (I’m applying for a concealed carry now that I have PR status). Many of the things I like are material things. I’m only 35 and have a lot of growing up to do, but I’m just enjoying all these trinkets whilst they are still important to me. I know my priorities and values will mature as I do.
What, if any, are the things you dislike about living in the USA?
Nothing springs to mind. Its not all roses and champagne, but its really, really close. Life is what you make it. If you can turn the disappointments in to something positive then it is hard to dislike something. I have a positive outlook – an example is my wife called in tears this evening when she admitted she had lost one of a very expensive pair of diamond earrings I bought her for her birthday just last month. After consoling her I said that all things happen for a reason and perhaps someone needy had found it and it would help them out.