Such a long absence,
I know

I've needed time to sift the events, 
the thoughts, the feelings in my mind

While in the UK,
I had no idea what my reflections would reveal from this side of the move...

London Heathrow Airport

Our move back to the US was a rocky one with unforeseeable mishaps:

- all our checked-in luggage was 'lost' for one very long week

- tracking online, we saw Hurricane Arthur pass over the ship that carried our house contents

- our pets were delayed in US customs due to a bomb threat evacuation

- and more things broke than ever in this move

Feeling like we were starring in 'The Truman Show', we can laugh about it now
Sort of :)

those first weeks in the US I didn't miss England
but I felt sad that France was less accessible
(go figure!)

Now, I often find myself lost in reminiscing about England
- London, birdsong, public footpaths, picturesque villages, 
our beautiful drive to school, friends -

It feels like I broke up with a boyfriend I loved dearly
but now I need to move on

They say the longer you stay abroad,
the longer it takes to resettle back 'home'

So we felt it was the right time to leave,
especially for the kids

Living in the UK was a dream come true with the opportunities it provided,
the lifelong friendships created,
and the growth that would have been difficult
to achieve had we never left the US

We have no regrets about raising our kids abroad
during some of their formative years

I can't wait to hear their reflections when they are older
 and see how it molded them as people

Now I feel we are entering not a new chapter in life,
but a whole new book
where everything feels foreign 
in this US timezone I've never lived in before

I exhaled when we moved back to the US where the laws make sense to me
(subconsciously a tiny part of me was afraid I'd break an English law I didn't know about)

I felt a tiny bit vulnerable and self-conscious about being a foreigner
My accent would always label me 'The American'
no matter how long we lived in the UK

And there was so much I didn't understand on a deeper level:
processes, cultural references, mindset

I feel like we belong here,
although we don't yet belong

I imagine it will take a while before we feel we live here,
not just visiting

With some local day trips around the area,
I am starting to see what is here
rather than what is not

I still walk up to my car with a moment of hesitation
- do I get in on the right side or the left? -
and I'm occasionally surprised when I hear American accents
(as I often thought in England, 'oh, visitors!')

It took a while to shake the nagging low-grade worry from the UK
that I might not find a parking spot I can fit into
or that I might not have proper change to buy a parking ticket

Here, I'm surprised strangers ask me where I'm from
because they detect an accent, they say
(which must be a slight difference in intonation or word choice)

But then due to a lack of English accent,
people are confused when I say I moved here from England
so I must say 'I moved here after living in England for 4 years'

The 'English' part of me feels that answer is way too wordy and 
divulges more personal information than I want to part with,
but that is where the follow up questions lead anyway
so down that road I follow

Having lived in 4 houses over the last 5 years,
I find myself hesitating to spend money on this house in case we move again

Although we bought this house without intentions of moving,
that nomadic life of 'we might need to pick up and go' still lingers

I have loved decorating our new 1950's house
All my bottled up creative decorating energy has been released
and it feels good to stretch those legs that have been in rental houses for the last few years

Lately I discovered some fantastic home decor blogs
which provide daily visual inspiration
and I have tidied up how I receive blogs through UnrollMe

Internet shopping has allowed me to put the house together fairly quickly,
which has been crucial for feeling settled

To set up house, we bought new electronics and appliances with US plugs
With the benefits of streaming and downloads,
we won't buy a DVD player or stereo system this time around

I still need to shed the scarves and sweaters for a warmer weather wardrobe
And I must buy a pair of sunglasses!

The biggest change I've noticed from living in the US 4 years ago
is the technological advances:

iPads have replaced some cash registers

Some businesses accept Google Wallet for transactions

Slide your credit card at the gate when you enter a parking garage

Simple mops and brooms are hard to find

And even soft drink dispensers have a new look

If you must know,
I can't get enough iced tea!

And not to brag,
but I can get a week's worth of laundry done in half a day

It is refreshing to have the sounds of American football
on the TV all weekend, not just at dinner time

And we're back to
going to professional baseball games
with yummy oversized brats and sauerkraut

Proudly I now have another driver's license under my belt
(needless to say, it was much easier than the 3-part test in England)

I naturally I have my intense 'missing England days'
and I would visit again in a heartbeat

Blogging was an integral part of my experience in England
as it motivated me to do and see more

It has been an amazing experience to e-know so many of you
and I even met some virtual blogging friends face-to-face

While I intend to keep this blog online
(still thousands of pageviews weekly!),
the title of my blog lends itself to stay in the UK

One day I might start up a new blog
but I haven't identified something I really want to get down on paper

So for now,
thank you so much for reading

My heart is happy we connected somehow
in this crazy internet world

I love you guys!
Wishing you all the best

- all photos my own -
(an unsponsored post)