Two years. Two Embassies. Two Visas. (Hopefully.)
If, instead of moving to America, I had gotten pregnant instead, I would be having a baby about now.
That’s a patently ridiculous statement – after all I don’t want kids – but it’s interesting to me as a measure of time. My last post on this subject was at the end of December, and it was very much a commentary on the sadness and loneliness that can take hold when relocating from a country that you’ve spent your whole life in.
Thankfully, the nine-month report is a much happier, healthier, and altogether bouncier child (sorry).
It’s that time. Time to talk about the Big H. No, not Harvey Weinstein, the other thing. Homesickness.
A few months ago I dumped a bunch of potential titles for posts into my Drafts folder to remind me what I had ideas about. One title was simply Homesickness, and AJ said “Well, you can’t write about that yet, because you haven’t gotten over it.”
I think I’ve been truly homesick just once before, back in September 2003 (or was it October?) when my family drove me the three hours from Wales to Manchester, and dumped me there. I remember feeling a profound sense of loss that day when they drove away, leaving me living on my own for the first time ever. This experience has been wholly different, for obvious reasons.
When I began this journey, it seemed like one of those things that was so far off that it might never even happen. There were so many layers of approval to be signed off, stacks of paperwork to be completed, and plans to be made that it was easy to think of ‘relocating my entire life to New York City’ as some abstract idea. This concept held even as the day of departure grew ever closer. Somehow, it was ‘just something I was doing’ rather than a seismic shift in the wonky tectonic plates of my life.
Finally, after nine months of waiting, wondering, speculation and admiration from others for this huge change I was undertaking, the day came and away I flew. Almost three months later – nearly a year to the day I asked about the concept of moving to America – my friends and family back home have asked with excitement-tinged voices “So, how is it living in New York??”
My answer is always a resounding “….eh.” It’s only when chatting to my parents last weekend that I realized why. The Big Adventure was never ‘moving to New York’, and it’s taken me a while to realize that.
As I write, there are but three days left until I get on the plane and bid farewell to my old life. The last few weeks have been a flurry of events that have left me with little time to reflect on the enormity of what’s happening – something that my friends aren’t shy at pointing out; “This is huge”, “I’d be shitting myself if I were you”, and so on.
In a way it’s a blessing. For months I’ve been pretty ambivalent and/or gung-ho about the whole thing. “I’m moving to New York” was delivered with the same weight as “I’m going to have chicken for dinner”. Perhaps it’s because the process has taken so long, or perhaps it’s just that, subconsciously, it was the best way for me to deal with it. I’m not really sure. What I am sure of, is that Shit Got Real about six weeks ago.
I now find myself embroiled in a cauldron of conflicting emotions. This is, no doubt, a huge change and a huge opportunity. NYC is widely touted as the best city in the world, and it’s a place that I’m very much enamoured with. Having survived London easily, I’m not phased by the idea of living and working within its American cousin. I’m finally going to be close to my girlfriend, who I’ve been with for nearly a year, stuck in the at-times frustrating ‘LDR’ scenario. On one hand, I’m still running and leaping for this opportunity with hands ready to grasp it.
On the other, however, I really don’t want to go. Continue reading “The Long Goodbye”
Tuesday June 25th 2017: Visa Day
My appointment was scheduled for 08:00, so I knew I needed to be up early to get there with plenty of time to spare. My alarm was set for 06:00, but by 05:40 I was in the shower, thanks to a terrible sleep.
I always sleep poorly when I know I have an alarm set for a particular time outside of my usual sleep pattern, and this day had particular significance.
I took the bus, Overground, and Jubilee Line to get to Bond Street, with Grosvenor Square and the US Consulate just a few minutes’ walk away.
As I write this paragraph, I am sat in the large blue-seated waiting room (“waiting hall” might be more appropriate nomenclature) with Number 9 stuck to my DS-160 form. There are 11 windows lining the right hand side of the room, so if everyone shows up to work on time I might not be here too long! Continue reading “Visas before Breakfast”
There’s a lot of Nationalism floating around at the moment, in both America and the United Kingdom. I’ve stayed inoculated against the disease by avoiding the rightwing press and staying informed, but it’s a risky business.
One of the big topics that’s been beaten to death by both sides is how ‘imports’ are ruining our lives, how everything would be so much better if we just ‘bought American’ or ‘brought our skills back to England’. Now I’m not going to delve into the whole globalisation argument, but I did find that an odd thing for Trump to be banging on about, especially when everything in America is the same.
Okay, that’s a little hyperbolic, but hear me out.
A few weeks ago, I posted about my start date along with a caveat, right there in the title. It turns out that was a good idea! After chatting to my immigration lawyer, she said ‘There ain’t no way Jack’ (paraphrased) to the proposed start date of August 1st, this time via email.
My start date was thus altered to September 1st. As of this afternoon, I’m now the proud owner of a set of Visa Application Documents, some forms, and a shiny interview appointment at the US Consulate near Marble Arch. I thought I’d talk a little about what’s been required to get to this stage.
I had been working in IT for a software company for a little over two years and was, on the whole, loving life. I had spent a year living in London, occasionally enjoying all of the things it has to offer, with two lovely flatmates, and I loved what I did and who I did it for. I had travelled the world – well, some of it – with stints in Paris, Munich, East Germany, and the United States.
Colleagues had become friends who had become travel buddies, and along with the decent salary we had explored the snowy mountains of New Hampshire, the concrete canyons of New York City, the sun-kissed beaches of Miami and Key West, and were due a trip to Tuscany, Italy in the first part of the year and an even bigger trip back to the US in October.
On an even more personal note, I was readying myself to take that next step into adulthood – buying my own property. I had just bought (well, leased) myself my first properly new car – a BMW M135i – after a few years of vehicular strife (that’s another long story) and during that process had stumbled upon a property being sold by a friend’s uncle.
I packed up my things, left London for a short stay with my parents back in (much more rural) Wales and prepared myself for the Next Big Adventure.
Then, everything changed.