Tuesday, 12 February 2019

The Quest for Repatriation

I sometimes feel that I've spent half of my life trying to leave Virginia. We first moved here on a Navy tour when I was a relentlessly xenophobic nine-year-old, and I hated it. For two and a half years, I was inflexibly patriotic, waiting to get back to the clearly superior UK.

My parents took a second tour in my teens, by which time I was ensconced at boarding school. I enjoyed Virginia much more as a holiday home, and when my father retired from the Navy, I bid the States farewell with some regret.

... My father promptly got another job in Virginia. My parents moved back out there and stayed until his retirement ten years ago. My older brother joined them to begin his own working life and got married there.

It was clear that my brother was going to spend his life in the States. I was determined to build mine in the UK: five years after graduating University, I had a stable job, a house and a marriage in England.

... Then my husband got the idea of moving to Virginia... an idea which resulted in a job offer we couldn't say 'no' to. Still, as fond as I was of Virginia by this point, I knew it wasn't where I wanted to make my home. I told my husband that we had to come back someday. Staying was not an option.

At the time, we figured we'd stay in the US for a few years, maybe start the family... but one thing led to another... life was good.... long story short, we spent thirteen years saying that we'd move back "someday."

Tell me how to say "No" to this...

"Someday" doesn't always mean "Never."

Now that we're divorcing, staying here is no longer the path of least resistance for me. I'll lose my visa once divorced, so it's either go home or go through the red tape of un-guaranteed immigration options.

The downside is that I've got to plan the move single-handedly. I haven't lived in the UK for thirteen years, I haven't worked for eight, but I'm the official head of this family, and I have to take the responsibility for uprooting us from Virginia and for settling us in the UK—somewhere.

As daunting as this sounds, I have a major luxury: the move will be paid for by my husband's employers. They moved me out here; they'll move me back. Likewise, the children's father will continue to give us financial support, so our income isn't totally dependent on me finding a job. That's a safety net I'm very grateful for.

However, I've still got a lot of hurdles to get over, and the plan is to move in June. Four months! Just to add one more thing to do the to-do list, I'm going to attempt weekly posts on the blog as we make the transition from our American life to the Great British Unknown.

Sneak preview of what's ahead!
  • My attempts to become gainfully employed after the eight year gap in work. Or alternatively, my attempts to amass sufficient income on a more piecemeal basis.
  • Can I realise my dream of living in Cornwall? Will I have to settle for being just across the border in Emmit-land (AKA Devon)? Or will I have to pack it all up after a year and move north for better job opportunities?
  • How do we get two elderly and cranky cats safely across the Atlantic? They'll be turning 15 around the time of the move, but they're part of our family, so the travel-habilitation is starting now.
  • Like everybody who has ever moved, we want to declutter beforehand... in this instance, we're going to a smaller house. We need to be practical about what we're taking, what we're leaving for their father, and what needs to go. And like everybody who has ever moved, we're doomed to failure.
  • ... in part because I have ADD. I'm the person responsible for pulling together all the logistics of this international move, and I'm still figuring out the right balance of medication. Still, the move itself is a no-fail mission. However bad I am at juggling, we're going to end up in the UK; the only question is how many balls I will drop en route.
  • Finally, moving to the UK is my dream, my goal... the kids want to stay here. That's hard on them and—in a very different way—hard on me. I owe it to them to get this right.

I begin this year in Virginia; I plan to end it in the UK. Which means that this summer, I'll say goodbye to Virginia for... I think it's the fifth time, but frankly, I've lost count... 

I know we'll be back. Aside from the children's father (who still plans to return to the UK himself "someday"), we'll always have family here in the form of my brother and sister-in-law. Maybe the children will want to move back here when they're older. I can't imagine I'll ever live here again... but then, I've thought that before.

These days, I'm more of a "never say never" person. Or perhaps: "Maybe someday."