When people here in Coastal Georgia ask me when I am next going “home”, I always answer that I am home. Maybe I am unusual as I know many British (and people of other nationalities) who have lived here even longer than I have who still talk wistfully about land of their birth as ‘home’. I moved to Coastal Georgia over ten years ago, directly from London, England, and have been a proud US citizen since 2012, submitting my application for citizenship on the absolute earliest day that Uncle Sam allowed me to apply. My favorite holidays are July 4th and Thanksgiving, which are obviously not celebrated in the UK, and I love the ‘Star Spangled Banner’ and the Pledge of Allegiance. So, citing a very American expression, I guess you could say “I have drunk the Kool-Aid”. With Thanksgiving next week, I have been thinking a lot about our family’s traditions developed since I emigrated and how much I have to be thankful for. I love it here and I am very happy and very blessed.
Do I love Great Britain? Of course I do. When people ask me what I miss besides my friends and family, there are, naturally, lots of things. Some of them are obvious like the green English countryside with lambs and daffodils, favorite traditional foods like proper fish and chips and tea with scones, and very British traditions like royal weddings, the Queen’s Christmas Day Speech, and Boxing Day (the day after Christmas). I miss the ironic humour (which is how the British spell it), the cultural references from my childhood, and the “mustn’t grumble” stoicism of the British. I am lucky that we have air miles aplenty (thanks to my husband’s world travelling job) and I have lots of places to stay when I visit, so I can easily get back to the UK once or twice a year. I also have the flexibility to work some remotely since I have a group of dedicated professionals supporting me back at LFPR’s office when I go to the UK. As I often say, I am not like one of the GI brides who got on the ship after the second world war for a far-off land never to return!
Of course, I did tear up when our plane left Heathrow airport for the “big move” 10 years ago, but I was also excited. And now when I return for a visit, it feels like Britain is not the same as it was when I left in early 2009. In some ways I feel that I don’t really 100% “fit” anywhere. In this part of the world, I will always be “the short English woman who does PR”, and I get asked dozens of times a year (really!) where I am from and do I like it here. However, no matter how much I learn from my American husband, family and co-workers about the language and culture, I still don’t always ‘get it’ even if I understand intellectually. When my husband sings the “Oscar Meyer Weiner” song, or someone asked me “Where’s the beef?” with everyone in the room (other than me) chuckling, I feel like I am not only on another continent but on another planet! On the other hand, I have missed over a decade of history and cultural development in the UK, and London has changed enormously since I left. So, I sometimes feel exactly the same way over there.
I am somebody who never does things half-heartedly. When I decide to do something, I will move heaven and earth to make it happen. If I commit to a work project, social engagement, voluntary project or a person, pet or country, there are no half measures. I am stubborn and determined and know that this can sometimes be a little challenging for those around me…..but America, I am committed to you, and I am here to stay.
I say goodbye this week with an appropriate quote from all the way back to ancient Rome by Pliny the Elder, “Home is where the heart is!” America, I am home.
God Bless America and Happy Thanksgiving!
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Lesley grew up in London, England and made Georgia her home in 2009. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or via her PR agency at www.lesleyfrancispr.com