Half way to Austin, Texas from London Heathrow , I am looking at the tiny plane on the TV screen showing the current position of our A787 over the Labrador Sea and thinking to myself ‘Am I leaving home or going home?’
I guess its the essential expat question. When you are brought up in one country and move to another where do you belong? Where is home?
After a month in the UK my life in America has started to feel very unreal. Slowly disappearing from my mind like the Cheshire Cat in Alice in Wonderland, leaving only a mysterious smile.
My husband will be in Austin and for that reason alone I can’t wait for the other half of the 10 and half hour journey to be over. I imagine him driving his White Pick Up truck (what else would you drive in Texas) to the airport. Over the intercom we have been told to expect 100 degrees in Austin.
I am actually looking forward to the Texas heat. So much closer to the equator you can feel the sun like a blazing fire almost strong enough to touch in Austin. The ubiquitous blissful ice air conditioning also means you can escape it whenever you want.
Strangely one of the hardest parts of the last few weeks in the UK was the heatwave and record high temperatures. Britain is as unprepared for heat as it is for snow or high winds. There is no air conditioning except in cars. Shops sell out of fans in days. Even fans struggle to disperse the heat. At my parents house we sit directly in front of the fan to get some relief. Its so stuffy on some days it becomes claustrophobic. So bizarrely one of the big things I am looking forward to in the 100 degree heat is being cool.
I also can’t wait to get in the pool. How many Brits move abroad just to get a pool in their back garden? Moving to Austin I couldn’t believe that there were houses that didn’t have pools! Though in fact many Austinites consider them an unnecessary expense and are more than happy to swim and relax in the creeks and waterholes around the city. Even regularly congregating, to my surprise, in a large spring under a highway. But for me a pool in the back garden was the realization of a lifelong dream. To be superficial, I am almost tempted to say home is where your swimming pool is!
Having longed to hear British Accents when we flew out a month ago I realize am now straining to pick up American voices among the other passengers. I skip the ‘tea time’ sandwich looking forward to authentic American Pizza when we land in Austin.
I switch my watch over and time literally flies forward. In no time at all we are striding through the basking heat and unlocking the front door of our house in North West Austin.
As I put my feet up on our IKEA corner sofa, drinking San Francisco Breakfast Keurig Pod coffee and watching recorded Rachel Maddow on MSNBC cable news make fun of Trump, I get the answer to my question. Somehow imperceptibly over 18 months this has become a routine and in that time Austin became home.