Friday, November 02, 2007

Twelfth Anniversary

Twelve years ago today I arrived in New Zealand to live. It was an extremely hot, sunny day when I emerged from the airport. Nigel had just started a new job and couldn't meet me, so I took an airport shuttle to the house, got the key that Nigel hid for me, and went inside.

Leading in from the front door was a path of laser printed sheets, one letter per sheet. They spelled out "Welcome Home". I knew I was.

In the early years, there were times I missed America so much that I quite literally ached. But over time, that feeling eased, helped, if I'm honest, by the introduction to New Zealand of familiar American brands like Ritz Crackers, Oreo Cookies and Ocean Spray Cranberry Juice. Mind you, it wasn't that I actually wanted those products—it was just that seeing them made me feel somehow more at home, and in those early days I'd take help assimilating wherever I could find it.

Since that time, we've been back to America twice, and we'll be back again eventually. We've bought and sold houses, I've changed jobs a few times, and become used to driving on the left side of the road. I have, in short, built a life.

I'm asked from time to time if I miss America, and that's not an easy question to answer. Of course I miss the friends and family I left behind, and there are places in America that are very special to me. Sometimes I miss them, too. But really, how can I miss something that in so many ways I carry in my heart? I may not live there, but I still love the country of my birth. Not even Bush/Cheney/Congressional Republicans can change that, try though they may.

Of course, I love this country, too. It took a chance on me when it let me move here; I hope that I've justified that faith. I love my life here, and I love my Nigel. For me, that trumps everything.

My post on my eleventh “Expataversary” is here.

A related post on being an expat is here.


Anonymous said...

Congratulations on twelve years, Arthur!

Arthur Schenck said...

Thanks so much, Mark! Congratulations are in order for you, too, but I couldn't possibly comment beyond that... ;-)

lost in france said...

Happy exapataversary, Arthur! My goodness, I had forgotten that you have been out of the U.S. less time than eye (says he, coy about his age).

I understand about the Cranberry juice. I was ecstatic when I finally found it in France.

Unknown said...

Congratulations on your anniversary in NZ. I went back and read your Eleveniversary post, and your coment about the 'honeymoon' caught my eye. I wondered if you'd like to talk some time about your honeymoon period in NZ, and what's changed for good or ill since then. (I confess to being an upcoming expat, and I'm always curious about how people react to a place once the shine is off, so to speak.)

Enjoyng the blog and the podcast regardless. Take care-


Arthur Schenck said...

LiF: Thanks! Sometimes it seems I've been here a lot longer, sometimes a lot less. I suppose that's only natural.

I think I did a double-take when the cranberry juice first appeared. I sometimes still do when I see a familiar product that's suddenly arrived here (and that still happens).

Patrick: Thanks--both for the congrats and for the idea. I've never talked about that in any real depth, so that's a really good topic, and so is a bit about what an expat can expect.

Feel free to email me if you want to ask any questions about expat-hood. I'm happy to help if I can!

Unknown said...

Look forward to it, and thanks, especially since NZ is on my short list of places start my expat adventure.