Emigration Diary: Tom-ay-to/Tom-ah-to
We’ve passed the six month mark in the US. It’s really starting to feel like home now. It struck me as I made plans with a friend to go camping that I would still be here in the summer. I’m not here temporarily on vacation like I’ve always been before. I have no flights to arrange to organize the trip. We simply have to choose the dates and pick a park and drive there. It’s also pretty much guaranteed that we’ll get at least some good weather if we do.
It’s hard to imagine the heat of the summer when it is as bracingly cold outside as it is at the moment. I really need to change my phone and my inner thermometer from Celsius to Fahrenheit. I really scared a coffee shop barista when I said it was below zero outside. These are the things I struggle most with. I miss the metric system. I am still unable to estimate how far a mile is; figure out what height my children are or how much weight I put on over Christmas. Some of these issues are more problematic than others. I still get confused about how to write the date every single time I have to. I figure it out, rather morbidly, by thinking of 9/11.
I am getting to grips with pronunciation and spelling though. I have dropped the ‘u’s from colour, favour and neighbour, ’ized’ most of my ‘ises’ and lost the double ‘l’ from jewellery and travelling. None of that hurt a bit. I can say ‘Baysil is an ‘erb’ with barely a smirk now and I didn’t bat an eyelid when I was asked for an ah-pricot sour the other day. I’m still not entirely clear what exactly I’m supposed to call my handbag. Is it a purse or a pocketbook and if it’s the former, what do I call my purse? My kids correct me constantly for calling underwear ‘pants’ and pants ‘trousers’. I’ve reluctantly started referring to the press as a closet and I avoid speaking the number thirty three in public entirely because of its evil ‘th’ qualities.
We have settled in to the community pretty well. The boys have regular playdates with their schoolmates. There are usually quite a few familiar faces if we walk into a local bar. We know who the most efficient cashiers at the supermarket are. I have someone I return to for eyebrow maintenance and we know which stores stock George’s favourite beer. I think the fact that I’ve been working in the restaurant has helped this transition enormously. Not only have I made friends there who invite me places socially but I have a selection of people to ask about the little cultural things I’m unsure of. How many school fundraiser items am I expected to buy or sell to be considered a good parent? (At least $100 worth.) Am I supposed to give the school bus drivers a Christmas tip? (Yes.) What the hell is an Arnold Palmer? (Half iced tea half lemonade.)
A big test of cultural familiarity is coming up on February 3rd with Super Bowl Sunday. It seems attendance at a party is compulsory. I haven’t a clue though. I’ve half watched a few games but I can’t for the life of me figure out the rules. I even find it difficult to remember what teams play which sports for what states. There’s nothing new there though, I’ve never really followed any sports, I was pretty much as clueless about the European Cup last year. I guess I’ll just do what I usually do and wing it. Smile when everyone cheers and try not to clap when people look devastated. Here, of course, the wings come with buffalo sauce. Bring it on. I have no problem relating to these or the nachos at all.