Give and take.

by

The awesome pajamamommas (go see their blog!) says: I’m curious to hear more about what it’s like to live in a country that’s not the one you grew up in. What do you miss most about Country A? What wierd cultural differences have you encountered? (if you can say without giving away your top-secret location).

Country B does not have tablecloths as people in Country A know them.

It sounds simple, but that’s a pretty profound difference. Something that a whole country of people – jillions – barely think about. But if you want a tablecloth like that here? They literally do not exist. Other kitchen things are that a ‘spatula’ is referred to as a ‘fish slice,’ which grosses me out considerably because, well, I have a little problem with seafood. Remind me to tell you about that sometime.

I guess there are more important things to worry about than kitchen utensil themed linguistic differences, though. Like the people.

People over here are generally more aware of what is going on in the larger global community. Politics are discussed more in casual conversation (my mother found that quite difficult, particularly our family and friends being critical of Republicans!). Our media isn’t as biased or openly, uh, ignorant as many channels in Country A.

People don’t go camping in great big forests, but in wide open fields. This is one of my most difficult things to get over, and I don’t think I’ll ever reconcile myself with it. We have found a few places with trees to camp, but by and large big ass fields seem to be the order of the day. People also often equate trips to the beach with bringing a big windbreak (like a portable wall, seriously) and heavy rainfall.

What do I miss about Country A? My family and friends. Big expanses of land. Huge forests and bodies of water everywhere (where I grew up, you were never more than a mile from running water!).

Generally, though, I prefer it here. I like the history – you can be in a McDonald’s and it happens to be a building older than Country A. Political ideaology is a lot more progressive and liberal. We, as a gay family, have rights here that are probably years away in Country A. This year, in fact, our civil union will probably legally be changed to marriage.

I don’t like that the houses are waaaaay smaller. That closets really don’t exist. That most houses are attached to the houses on either side.

I used to not like the crazy ass driving – cars parked all over the fucking road, and you just weave back and forth over the centre line like nobody’s business. That doesn’t bother me anymore. Nor does driving a manual/stick shift – most cars here ARE manuals. If you can only drive an automatic it says so on your license, like, hey, check out THIS fucking loser!

I guess the odd thing for me is that I’ve lived virtually all of my adult life here. After I completed my first degree in Country A, I had a year in between where I alternately lived out in the middle of the woods – just me, alone, on 500 acres of woodland – and lived illegally with TMD in her dorm room in Country B. Then I moved.

It was difficult having to learn many skills I had previously learned whilst in university in Country A – everything was different. Cheques/checks, bus riding procedures, big ass city subways/tubes, just everything. Rather than being an adventure, it made my first year here rather difficult as we lived in the country’s largest city and I knew no one other than the other people on my MA course, and we were all mature students living all over. I’ve only kept in touch with one person from that course, and she’s probably reading this.

But many of the true adult skills I’ve learned – how to get a mortgage, starting a retirement fund, becoming a professional accredited counsellor – well, those are things that I would have to relearn if we ever moved back to Country A.

At this point, I’ve been here so long that I have to really stop and pause to think of the ‘Country A word’ for certain things. I’ve always felt more at home stepping off the plane here than when I go back to Country A. Again, ask me and I’ll tell you more about that sometime.

The main issue is really my family. I can’t help but think that we are all getting older, and I am cheating my mother and stepdad out of being involved with my children on a daily basis. That we are cheating ourselves out of being involved with them. My sister is the one we have appointed as legal guardian should anything truly terrible happen, yet she’s only met the kids twice.

I’m definitely past the point of thinking of my primary, immediate family as myself and my sister/parents. Now it has shifted to what is best for me, my wife, and our children. It is better for us to live here. Laws protect us here as lesbian women, as home educators, etc. Our lifestyle here matches what we want – to move to Country A would require massive rejigging of how we conceive of our family as working.

Do I miss nice, big gas guzzling environment killing cars? Sure. Sometimes. But do I love the ethos here of walking everywhere? Yes.

Do I love being able to stay home with our children, secure in the knowledge that no one questions we are both the moms and we can educate our children as we wish? Yes. Do I miss my family every day and long to live within a half hour of them, rather than half a world away?

Yes.

This post brought to you by my compelling desire to write, and complete inability to do so. Generous people have given me funny, thoughful, and factual suggestions for posts. Click here to see them, or add your own. I’ll work through them all in time.

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9 Responses to “Give and take.”

  1. Jess Says:

    Every time our plane lands in that big city you once lived in, I feel like I’m home again.

    Also, it’s been YEARS since this camping travesty was discovered and I still don’t think I’m over it. WHERE ARE THE TREES????

  2. pajamamommas Says:

    Aww, thanks for the shout-out! And for answering my question. It sounds like it must be hard to have the place that works for you so far away from some of the people who are important to you.

  3. mamacrow Says:

    tablecloths? what table cloths can not get here? i’m curious!

  4. mamacrow Says:

    *you.
    what table clothes can YOU not get here *sigh*

  5. Gnome Says:

    Really interesting. I never knew camping in fields was strange!

  6. mamacrow Says:

    oh, the field thing. wood camping is not so much fun cos you get eaten ALIVE by mozzies. However, there are some woodland camping areas, particularly for guides (trans – girl scouts)

  7. mamacrow Says:

    maybe we’re just tastier then. I don’t come off to bad but Roo & Fluff get eaten ALIVE

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