Today at work a very lovely colleague asked me the most common of expat questions: “So, why do you live here?”. And while it’s a perfectly fine question, in theory, it sort of feels invasive, you know? Like-what are you doing in my country, weirdo? Obviously, that is not what was meant, but……sometimes it feels that way. Especially when you’ve been asked that question about a million times before.
Usually my answer is short and sweet. I married an English man. The end. But that’s not really all of it. I mean, I’m not some damsel in distress who blindly followed my prince across the ocean, feel me? Because it most certainly didn’t go that way. At least, not in my head. Nor in real life. It was far more complicated than all that.
So the real reason, besides just looooooove, is how much easier it was for me to move to England, and have a fulfilling life that didn’t just involve being a wife, but also didn’t involve being the only one who could legally hold a job. The options for Jon to come to the USA were small. I was a graduate student with no immediate job prospects, he had a great, steady job in England. The visa requirements for coming to the States are far more complicated and far more bureaucratic. The timeline of us being able to be together would have been months and month and months over what was expected for me to come to the UK. We actually began the process of getting him an American visa, but nearly a year after we started that, we thought we’d see if I could get an English one, and within two weeks of filling out the application, I had one. So living in America just wasn’t in the cards then, no matter how badly I wanted it. But maybe someday we can both be there, live there, work there, long-term. I hope. We’ll see.
And that, all of that, is the longer, more complicated answer. Although really it isn’t that complicated to choose the easier, cheaper way of doing things, now is it? This way, I get to have a (mostly) great job, alongside my husband who also has a great job, in a country with universal healthcare and awesome maternity leave and public transportation and easily accessible high-quality food. And, like, pubs and stuff. And it all came together rather quickly once we decided to go for it.
So no, I didn’t just move here for love, and I didn’t just move to England because I married an English man and he made me and obviously wives go wherever their husbands go. It was a lot of things, all combined, and we made the decision that worked for us, and our little partnership. And if I could, even with how lovely and great England is, I’d move back to America and be amongst my people, right now. Maybe I’d also live a few other places, were this just a magical free dream world, but America….I miss it, and I love it, unrepentantly. And no matter how great England is, my loyalties still lie at home.
So in conclusion, and to end this long winded train of thought, that is why I live here. So…maybe don’t ask anymore? Of if you do, just be cool about it. That’s all I’m asking.