Emigration Diary: The Big Question
Everything is bigger here. The cars, the shopping malls, the cooker, the fridge, even the milk cartons all seem enormous. The boxes of toys and clothes I posted over that seemed overwhelmingly huge when they filled my front room in Ireland barely even got in the way in the hall here. Everything is bigger, but is it better?
We went to a sprinkler park this week. The kids got to wear their swim suits and a generous helping of factor 30 and play in a playground made up entirely of water hoses and sprinklers triggered randomly by giant red buttons. There was the usual playground equipment too but it was so scalding hot from the sun that it was practially redundant. Initially, my kids were hesitant to join in this strange game with these strange children but fate had gifted me with a ping pong ball in my handbag and the quest of balancing a ball on a water shoot was just enough to break down shyness and integrate them fully with their peers. Loads of squealing, watery fun was had. It’s a fabulous amenity that my seven year old commented would be practically useless in Ireland.
Other than the weather, my day-to-day life hasn’t changed a huge amount yet. I’m still loading and unloading the dishwasher daily and churning out lunches and dinners to a constant chorus of ‘I’m hungry!’ I’ve been applying for jobs but haven’t found anything suitable yet. In fact, it’s been three weeks and I haven’t even left Long Island. I still have a lot to organize. We both have to sit driving tests and I’ve yet to find suitable health insurance and childcare. I’ve enrolled the kids in the local school from September and there is much excitement that they’ll be collected from outside the house in a big yellow school bus, just like in the movies.
We joined the local library the other day. In addition to stocking our bookshelves, we signed up for some free family workshops during the month. I figured it might be a good way for the kids to meet other children in the area. I might even work up the guts to go to a mommy coffee morning soon and maybe make some new friends myself. It’s funny how I expect my children just to join in with strangers and integrate when I find the prospect of doing something similar so daunting.
We see a lot less of George now. He’s commuting an hour each way to the city so he’s gone early and gets home late, barely in time to say goodnight to the kids. He does seem to be enjoying the work though and I can’t help feeling a little jealous when I see his photos of city skyscrapers while I’m still stuck in suburbia. True, it is a hotter, sunnier suburbia with a beautiful swimming pool in the garden so I can’t really complain. It’s also really nice to have my family around. It’s good to not have to load the kids into the car every time I need something from the grocery store. I guess I just thought things would change more dramatically for me. Patience is not my strong point.
George does get weekends off, thankfully, and we spent last Sunday in the garden. It was 35°C. He repaired some of the decking that hadn’t survived the winter and cut back some of the trees. My mother cleaned and oiled the patio furniture and I took the giant pressure washer and cleaned some of the paving around the pool. The kids built themselves a camp out of the off cut branches. Afterwards, we all went for a refreshing swim and then had a delicious barbecue. It was a really pleasant day and we didn’t have to go anywhere.
I got to thinking; everything is bigger here because there’s so much more space to fill. And if there’s one thing my kids and I appreciate it is space. Here they have the space to run around, I have the space to think and most importantly, we all have so much more space to grow. So, with my fingers crossed that I don’t expand so much as to fill the capacious driver’s seat, we’ll continue our journey onwards. Because, despite all the adjustments and upheaval and the anti-climaxes, I still believe, in the long run, for us, it is better.