Missionary Kid, Third Culture Kid, call me what you like but I believe it’s my experiences as an expatriate that trained me to truly learn that home is where you make it.
Andy and I have always said that our years overseas uniquely prepared us to live in Utah. We already knew what it was like not to be a part of the local culture. So despite the obvious differences between our family and 90% of those surrounding us it became home…more than any place I’ve lived since my Hong Kong years. In fact, it was the longest I’ve lived anywhere since Hong Kong.
Now we find ourselves starting over again. We have picked up our little family and moved across the country. We’ll never quite fit in here either. Our accents (or lack thereof) will always give us away as non-natives to the East Coast but we’re settling in nicely. We are unpacked (for the most part), the girls are in schools they love, they’ve made new friends quickly, and to top things off we’ve purchased our first home. It’s not big or grand…that wouldn’t suit our personalities or our priorities…but it’s ours. In all its quaint coziness it’s ours. It has creaky hardwood floors, a fireplace we enjoy using nightly, and a backyard the girls can actually play in (hated the yard we had in Utah!). I love it all. Except the kitchen. But I’ll love that soon enough. (I’ll post before and after photos when it’s done.)
I knew things would be different here. I remember being amused at the things Andy would take note of when he moved out west for the first time. I’m sure a lot of these things will become normal to us but for the sake of posterity, here are a few observations from some Delaware newbies:
1. There are a lot of squirrels. A lot. And they scamper across power lines just like Jumpy Squirrel in Curious George.
2. People here are far friendlier than west coasters give east coasters credit for. Everyone has been very friendly and welcoming. We have awesome neighbors and love all the teachers and administrators at the girls’ schools. Even random strangers who find out we are new here are welcoming.
3. The trees are huge. Maybe this is because all the trees in our Utah neighborhood were so young. But there are fantastic huge old trees everywhere.
4. You can’t see where you are going. The view does not extend for miles and miles. There are too many tall trees. I miss seeing across the valley, the lake, and the mountains surrounding us.
5. There are no mountains. Anywhere. I wish I was exaggerating but within our first couple of days here I was watching the news and they showed a really pretty picture of early morning fog among some rolling hills. Then the weather man said, “Here we have a picture of some morning fog in the Poconos Mountains.” My first thought was, “Wait…what?! Did he use the word ‘mountains?'” You could say they make mountains out of molehills in the literal sense.
6. There are a lot of squirrels. A lot. They’re everywhere. I’m not entirely convinced they don’t secretly run the state with aspirations of extending their power to the whole northeast. After that there will be no stopping them.
7. Everything feels old here. I like that about the random Revolutionary War sites you come across, older homes that feel like they were built to last, and old Pubs that long-dead famous authors used to frequent. I don’t like that about gas stations and grocery stores. (Although I did find a grocery store that feels far newer recently! Maybe they recently remodeled.)
8. The Costco entrance is on the wrong side of the building. Also, they don’t sell enormous paintings of the Mormon temple. I’m okay with that.
9. You know those accents you hear in the movies? They’re real..people actually talk like that.
10. They don’t label road names. That’s annoying. Until you’re on top of a street there’s no way to know the name of it. Then it’s a tiny sign on the street corner. Thank goodness for Siri or I probably would have caused multiple accidents already just trying to figure out if I had come upon the right street.
11. I take back #6. I believe the squirrels secretly run the entire country. Don’t be fooled by the fuzzy, playful exteriors. Inside are cunning little strategists.
That’s it for now! We’re settling in nicely and hopefully when we get a little more settled I’ll have time to get back to things I love…like cooking, writing, and documenting our adventures exploring a new area of the country! :)