I have been to this side of the Pond once before – back in 2005, when, during my 3 week stay, I was lucky enough to have witnessed the forests of the White Mountains turn from their summer green to the that autumn mass of color. That was just a short visit – this time I am here to stay (subject, of course, to USCIS). Thanks to the world economic downturn it has taken something like 4 or 5 years to eventually sell the farm, and in the end I practically gave it away. But at least it is now out of my hands. I heard just today that our 104 cartons of possessions are at last about to be loaded into a container and sent on their way. I guess they’ll take another couple of months to get here, and we’ll have to hire storage space until we get a larger place to live.
On my first night on American soil we stayed at the Salem Inn in Salem, Massachusetts. Liz has a passion for witches and Wicca, and I am a Free Thinker, so it was in all aspects an appropriate place to stay. And anyway I needed to replace a ring that I had lost somewhere on the farm, a ring with a particularly sentimental value. That first night was somewhat marred by circumstances. We had planned to go out for dinner, but with 40 sleepless hours behind me along with the loss of my laptop in Dubai – well, I’m afraid that the evening turned out to be an expensive damp squib. I did notice one thing though – having heard that everything in America was BIG, I noted that even the loo paper at our hotel was at least 10% larger than what I have been used to elsewhere.
But seriously – I have now been here for one month. Yesterday we sent the I-130 off to USCIS to start the ball rolling for my permanent residence. I will be flying to the UK in late July for a couple of weeks to keep legal, and will have the pleasure of staying with my sister and her husband Peter, and of seeing her three kids (?) and grandchildren for the first time in 15 years. My 5 weeks on this side of the Pond have been wonderful – eye opening, to say the least. It is particularly wonderful to witness efficiency, clean streets and highways (a story here), unbiased radio stations, the very latest technology and a wide variety of culture – available for all.
Driving north on Interstate 93 the other day we witnessed a State trooper meticulously going through a trash bag that someone had dumped on the side of the highway. He was searching each piece of trash for some clue that would trace it back to the culprit. Wow! Efficiency!
Of course the best thing about being on this side of the Pond is that I have been reunited with my family. With my wife and soul mate Liz, and with Julie, Jake and my three grandchildren Grace, Owen and Luke. We have an apartment just three miles from Julie, three miles along the Ammonoosuc River, and are surrounded by the forests and mountains of the North Country. From our deck we have views of Mounts Washington, Lafayette, Lincoln and Osceola as well as a number of the smaller mountains of the region.
Last week we drove down to Portsmouth to watch Grace compete in the State Gymnastics Championships – she came away with 5 medals and a very proud grandfather. My theatrical background kicked in during the Awards Ceremony in the school auditorium, where I counted more than 50 floodlights above the stage as well as numerous spots and follow spots. There must be numerous small theaters that would give anything for that lighting set up, and this just in a local high school. Liz and I drove back along the banks of Lake Winnipesaukee, stopping briefly at Weirs Beach so that Liz could get her feet in the sand – the waters of the lake were still just a few degrees above freezing, and far too cold to get her feet wet.