Just sit right back and you'll hear a tale,
a tale of a fateful trip...
So today (or Thursday, depending on what time zone you're in) marks one year since we arrived in New Zealand, starting our so-called brand new lives!
We stumbled into Auckland a year ago laden down with overly burdened suitcases, knowing we had a place to stay with my in-laws but really, not much else. We weren't exactly huddled masses on Ellis Island, but it was still a jarring change from all we knew. But here we are – we're jobbed, day-cared and relatively settled, with the exception of having a nice little house truly of our own. Hopefully we'll get that nut cracked by year's end or so as signs are pretty positive on that front.
It's strange, though, to realize that it's been one year since I set foot on that American soil I spent most of my first 35 years on. I've lived in a "foreign country" for an entire year. The thing is, New Zealand doesn't feel entirely foreign to me. What with the language and British culture, it's not like living in Rio or Ulan Bator. Instead, it's rather like a kind of parallel universe to the American-centric one – many things are the same, some are similar, and some are just different enough to confuse you.
It's been interesting defining my identity as an American and my relationship to the US of A in this time. You definitely realize how low the current US political scene is held in view by pretty much everyone, particularly the British tabloid news services that are popular here. You do get a sense that Americans are viewed as a bit arrogant, a bit blundering and oblivious – a stereotype I try to do my best to dispel. I've met a couple kiwis that are real yobbos ("uncouth") too but I don't imagine they're all like this, and neither are all Americans loud, uncurious and insulated.
I do miss America, quite a lot, the generosity of spirit and casual kindnesses that aren't always transmitted to the broader world. I miss the landscapes, which are infinitely varied and the sense of sheer space that is missing in a sometimes-claustrophobic place like Auckland. There's a frontier poetry to America which sometimes gets obscured in the latest political screw-ups, but I do believe that the idea of America is very much alive and well, and worth being a part of. And of course I miss family and friends quite a lot. I can't rule out living there again one day.
But overall I'm very glad we did this, that I got to be the foreign one in this marriage for a while. We tried not to set goals when we moved here, knowing it might not work out (another couple we knew who moved here at the same time only lasted 9 months, after all). But now that we've got good jobs and are house-hunting away, I guess it's safe to say I'll be a kiwi for a while to come. Cheers mates!