Monday, November 02, 2009


Today is Fourteenth Anniversaries, plural: I arrived in New Zealand to stay on this day in 1995, which makes it my “Expataversary”, or the anniversary of the day I became an expat. That means it’s also the date Nigel and I have always taken to be our anniversary, since this was the day our life together really began.

So much has changed over those years, not the least the fact we now have another Anniversary: January 24, the day we held our Civil Union. We were talking the other day about what we would answer when people ask how long we’ve been married. We decided the long explanation is best: We’ve been together fourteen years, and made it “legal” in January. This lets people know both the long-term nature of us, and also that we’re legally joined, too.

In the past, I’ve talked about how people ask me if I’d ever live in the US again and, truth be told, I’ve always ducked the question because I’ve never known how to answer it. However, I realised recently that the chances I’d ever live there again are slim to none.

The America I left in 1995 no longer exists, it’s changed so much. Whether those changes are good, bad or indifferent is beside the point—it’s the scale of change that matters. Every year I live away from the US, the more like a foreign country it becomes. Every week I see a reference in American news media or among my Internet friends to something currently in American pop culture—and I have no idea what they’re talking about.

If this sounds implausible, then consider that when I left the US the Internet (as we know it today) was still in its infancy: Connections were slow and expensive and the World Wide Web was barely beginning. Cellphones existed, but were expensive and only beginning to catch on (and they were analogue—no WiFi, no texting, no downloading anything to your phone).

When I arrived in New Zealand in 1995, I couldn’t possibly have known that over time I’d begin to feel like a foreigner in my own homeland, but that’s what happened. But I also couldn’t have imagined that a day would come in which I’d feel completely at home in a country other than the US, and that happened, too.

I think the difference for me is that I love adventure—not the trekking across the Antarctic kind, but the perfectly ordinary “let’s see where this goes” kind. As Nigel and I have built our life together, we’ve moved around and tried new places and jobs, but we’ve always moved to something, not from anything.

And that was true for me, too, fourteen years ago today. I think that sense of adventure is the secret to why this experience has been so amazingly wonderful for me. The fact that Nigel and I share a sense of adventure is probably one of the secrets to why our life together has been so amazing.

So, on this fourteenth anniversary, I’m living in a place I love, having a wonderful life, and sharing it all with my best friend and soulmate—and now husband, too (and Jake, too, of course). Fifteen years ago, I couldn’t have imagined that any of that would be true, so maybe that’s the real “take away message” from my experience: Don’t assume that your dreams won’t come true, because you may be only one day away from the start of it all.

And for me it all started fourteen years ago today.

Previous years’ posts:

Lucky 13: Expataversary and more

Twelfth Anniversary

Eleven Years an Expat

A related post:

Ex, but not ex-


Unknown said...

Aww, this is lovely. I celebrate my 5th expativersary this year, so I will be able to apply for citizenship at last.
I found a country that I can relax in, and finally feels like home :)

d said...

Aw, you guys! *sniff* =)

Arthur Schenck said...

Thanks, fellow expats!

Anonymous said...

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