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“˜Honey, we’re going to America!’

“˜Honey, we’re going to America!’

The day my husband, Chris, came home from work and said that his employer wanted him to go to the US for 2 years, I was stunned. The company offered to send us across the pond, to Charlotte, for 4 days, to see if we could be bribed by sunshine and the famed hospitality of the Carolinians. But I wasn’t going to move there for two whole years”¦was I?

The day my husband, Chris, came home from work at Barloworld and said casually over dinner, that the company he worked for wanted him to go to the US for 2 years, I was stunned.

I had a 5 year old son settled into his first year of school. I had a good job as a nurse in a local private hospital. I had just helped relocate my mum to the village as she wanted to spend more time with her grandson and my two stepdaughters were a short car ride away. I was very happy and was not about to give it all up to go and live in the deep south where images of “˜little house on the prairie’ and “˜gone with the wind’ spring to mind.

The company offered to send us across the pond, to Charlotte, for 4 days, to see if we could be bribed by sunshine and the famed hospitality of the Carolinians. After a little contemplation, I decided that a few well earned days away with my husband, at the company’s expense would be very nice, thank you.

But I wasn’t going to move there for two whole years”¦was I?

My friends would say “I wish I had the chance to go” or “At least they speak English there and it’s not a foreign country” Ah, that’s where they were wrong, it is a VERY foreign country…and they don’t speak English! What the hell is a zucchini and who on earth would drink cold tea?

What should I do?

I reasoned that it was just for two years and besides, if I didn’t go, each time I had an argument with my husband, he would always remind me that it was my fault!

It was a wrench.
There were tears.
I packed and unpacked”¦. twice!
Our daughters were upset and what would I do with my cat?

“˜Have a great day ya’ll’ was beginning to wear thin already

In Charlotte the weather changes by the day in the autumn (or the Fall) and a month after we arrived there was an ice storm.

Now an ice storm is when Mr Freeze comes and sprays the world with a layer of ice inches thick and everything comes to a standstill.
It's surreal.
It’s quiet.
It’s strangely beautiful.
The downside is, no power, no heat, no phone.

Aaagggghhh!

We were not prepared for the fact that the health system was a mind boggling amount of paperwork and cost. A money driven system, where you die if you can’t pay and insurance is everything.

I ask myself….."what am I doing here?”

It’s taking a long time to feel “˜settled in’.

I didn’t understand a lot of the southern Americanisms and they didn’t understand my English. I was tired of hearing “˜I love your accent, it sounds to cute’

I didn’t want to be cute. I wanted to go home.

My son started speaking in a funny American twang and when I asked him to stop he said “˜I don’t want to be different here mummy”

Two years would pass quickly”¦wouldn’t it?

That’s when I decided to put on my “˜big girl knickers’ and throw myself into the “˜American way’ and stop whining. My family wouldn’t be happy if I wasn’t happy.

I volounteered at school, I set up lunches to get to know my neighbours and I drove home a different way each day to get to know the roads. I took my US nurse licensure and I started a small business teaching infant massage. Winter turned to spring and The Queens City blossomed.

The weather became warm and by memorial day, I was cheering “Way to go Alex” as my son practiced for swim team and played soccer. I had “˜nested’ in our new home and knew where I could buy Heinz baked beans and Cadbury’s chocolate.

{mosbanner right}Charlotte is very cosmopolitan and growing fast. It’s tasteful, elegant and there are flowers everywhere, it’s spacious and the pace of life is slower than we are used to.

The crime rate is low and the locals are so pleasant it makes you wonder whether the fluoride in the drinking water has been replaced with prozac.

There are new homes being built and with them come more new people from all over the country, and in fact, all over the world. There are a lot of English here. We exchange news of home and the Hello magazine. We discuss the price of petrol and the exchange rate. We talk about the football results and the weather. We talk at length about no longer missing being in a country where success and enthusiasm are frowned upon.

After six years here”¦.we are slowly becoming a new family.

The Blue Ridge Mountains are a short drive away and so is the beach.

As is the American way we drive 8 hours to Disney and think that it’s a short hop. We go to the pool after homework is done and we marvel at the Carolina blue sky. Children talk about summer camp and which college they are aiming to attend. They play outside every single day.

I miss my family but probably talk to them more now than I did when I was in England.
I miss the historical buildings and the little villages. I miss Mark & Spencer , and yes,
I miss the rain”¦”¦”¦but not that much..

Did I come here for two years?
I look at my family, laughing and suntanned, relaxed,
“¦”¦”¦”¦”¦”¦”¦..and I am home.

©Julie Hutt