I am often asked, "Do you miss the USA?" Quickly and unequivocally I reply: "No." Then I usually qualify that I do miss Mom, Sister DSJ, and all my friends back there. The Brits I talk to find it curious that I would prefer England, and/or Great Britian to the the USA. My only response is--its a God thing.
To be honest, at times it is really difficult to get homesick in the UK. Especially when I stroll down grocery store shelves and find Kelloggs' corn flakes, Kellogg's rice krispies, Pop Tarts, Hellmann's maynonnaise, and especially Ole' El Paso Mexican food! Equally, I might as well be walking down the local Main Street of an American town when I walk down the local High Street; what do I see--tee shirts and jerseys with New York, San Fransisco, Boston, blazened on the front. And baseball caps rooting for the Dodgers, or the Nicks, or other America teams. I overhear people talking about CSI; Friends and Law and Order.
Even British television programmes are "under the influence." I was watching "Midsomer Murders" on Wednesday night. The main plot revolved around "Old West" aficionados involved in a land dispute There was even a local "Wild Bill Hickcock Wild West show." Granted for the British viewers who have never been to the US, I can see the appeal of the departure from Norman Knights and Vikings. But for an American Ex-pat who grew up watching John Wayne, Ben Johnson, Kirk Douglas and other cowboy movies, seeing stages coaches, and gun fights at the OK Corral in the middle of Midsomer Worthy it was just ironic. I must say, thought, the programme's author had done his homework.
However, I only have to look at the lounge window to be reminded that yes, I do live in England. We look over Kidderminster Park, next to a grammer school. On weekends the park hosts football (that's soccer for the Americans) practices and games. I can also see the traffic travelling along London Road--the red 81 bus (a double-decker) from London Transport, as well as the First Travel buses going to and from the airport, or London. During the winter, Windsor Castle is in clear view. It looks about 2 inches tall...but it is easily seen whilst standing on our balcony.
Wanting to actually live here, and make a life here, I set some goals for myself when I arrived here in 2003. I wanted to work here. Whilst I wanted to pay off school loans, I also wanted to be around British people to learn terminology. I wanted to become British--and I couldn't do that staying at home. So I started out temping and eventually found a permanent job--where I worked until 2007.
I drove in America, so I HAD to drive in England. It wasn't as easy as I expected. Finding myself situated on the opposite side of the car, on the opposite side of the road required finding new techniques for determining the actual position of the car on the road. And round-abouts were a major mystery to be solved. I took some lessons from a very good instructor, and on my FOURTH attempt, I passed the test. Obtaining my drivers license was another official documentation toward my British citizenship journey.
As a person who had married a British Citizen, I could apply for British Naturalization after three years of living in the UK--which would have been 2006. That is, of course, if my visa had obtained the status of Indefinate Leave To Remain; this I had done. However, for various reasons, it wasn't until 2007 that I focused on getting my citizenship.
I found the information on the appropriate UK Home Office website and discovered I had to take a test entitled, "Life in the UK." I learned basic things about British history, British government, the different cultural populations in the UK and even about what regional accents are called. For example, a "Scouse" is from Liverpool. I studied hard and passed the test easily.
Because English is my first language, I did not have to take the English proficiency test.
The application for citizenship was sent in--with countless thousands of others--on 31st March. The fees were set to go up beyond double on 1st April. My Midnight Man and I stamped and registered it for signature to make sure it was before the deadline. Finally, in September, I pledged my allegiance to the Queen and country of Great Britian.
The idea of returning to the USA to live holds no appeal to me.
- I worked hard to get my citizenshp.
- Since I have an underactive thyroid, I qualify to have all my medication costs covered by the government. Yes, I pay nothing for my medicine.
- My step-daughters and their families are here.
- British history fascinates me.
- Travelling to Europe is easy and inexpensive.
- The idea of pulling up roots and starting all over again has no appeal to me.
- I even like the weather here.
Now, having stated Great Britian is my home of choice, I must also go on record and acknowledge that I do love America. At times I am aware of just how American my mind-set is. But I am now more than American--and I am also British.
In 1999, during a plane ride from Northern Ireland to the USA, the ache of leaving swelled inside my heart. I heard the Holy Spirit say; "Some people fall in love with another person and must be with that person regardless of where it is. Other people fall in love with a place and simply have to live there--even if it means they are alone. Just to be where they love is enough. Dalletta, you have fallen in love with a place. You have fallen in love with Great Britian."
So there you have it...my greatest joy is being where my heart is.
Serving Jesus, Author of our faith