The Return

I thought a break from writing would help me better process the crazy changes in store this autumn and leave space for my private life to flourish, but it seems I was wrong.

Writing is, by its essence, an act of processing. To put new things into words requires attentive thought unlike any other I know.

And so, two months into America, and almost five into our year-of-transition, I woke up this morning knowing I needed words to help me filter this next stage in our lives.

I can’t possibly catch you up on everything that happened in the last interim, bear with me as things fall in and out of place.

But first, and most magnificently, we got married.

And like everything in Beandom, it was both proudly traditional and wildly unconventional. It also just so happened to be Practically Perfect in Every Way.

Sara & Liam-226 Iain

Second, we moved to the other side of the world. Which we knew would be big, but I had no idea how hard.

This is exacerbated by the fact we are in the English-speaking country from which I hail, and which we have visited many, many times.

How can driving, say, or grocery shopping be all that hard? What’s so complicated about going to the bank?

Oh, the hubris.

For one, the whirligig of social and cultural exchanges go far beyond quips about the foreign languages of our two English-tongues.

The unpredictable turns of nosy hospitality and stand-off-ish negligence enacted by Midwesterners is constantly a surprise. It’s as if we agree on the amount of open generosity and privacy needed in a person’s life but we’ve allocated it to entirely different areas of our daily activity.

Plus the Hellerian logic of the immigration process has hampered Bean’s… well, everything, and the word impotent is too small for the powerless waiting of being an Alien-with-a-capital-A.

And so help me, I have yet to cook anything that tastes like home. Somehow even the flour is different, and the grocery store doesn’t stock whole nutmeg!


I know I sound a bit diva. These are utterly and entirely first world problems, and rather paltry ones at that (though I am cut up about the nutmeg).

In hindsight, perhaps I should have steeled myself as if I was headed to Tokyo or Madagascar — somewhere utterly different, somewhere totally new I could explore on its own terms, instead of trying to shoehorn my foreign life into its non-conforming boxes (and assuming I knew what boxes were there at all).

So, this open-eyed traveler’s welcome is how I mean to go on. Traversing the uncharted territory of middle America with my trusty pen and a fresh pair of eyes.

I must be vigilant of course that I don’t become some pompous Victorian anthropologist who packs butter in terracotta pots when venturing into the jungle and declares the local customs “quaint”, but I think introducing the New Sara to the New America will suit us both better in the long run, and then we can greet each other as civilised equals.

So I’m playing my Do Over card, America.

The gloomy bluster of early November ought to be relished with good books and hot chocolate (and some further long-distance phone calls with the NHS). Let’s reacquaint ourselves tomorrow.


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