“When are you just going to move out here, so we can see you more than once a year?”
If I had a nickel for every time I heard that from one of my American friends between 2010 and 2013, I’d have a shitload of nickels.
And honestly, they all had a point. Over the years I’ve built some incredibly strong friendships in the US, to the point where it was a no-brainer to attempt to move here on a more permanent basis (as opposed to, say, London, where every other Australian seems to make first stop on the Ex-Pat Express). If things went really pear-shaped and I somehow bottomed out in a big way, I’d feel at least a little confident knowing that all I’d have to do was scrape together enough cash to get myself to Denver, Omaha, Providence, White Plains NY, or a handful of other places, and there’d be a couch for me to crash on for a minute.
And support networks aside, the prospect of being able to see all of these great friends more frequently (and without a 14-plus-hour flight in the way) was an extremely big selling point. Up until now, my ability to catch up with said pals was ultimately restricted to a four-to-six-week block sometime between cricket season and football season at home when I could afford to take time off work and do a boozy whirlwind tour of the US encompassing 16 cities in 38 days.
But if I lived in the US, surely I could be jaunting off to the Twin Cities or Houston or Charlotte or Toronto or San Francisco every other weekend, right? Suddenly it’s not a case of planning a trip six months in advance and intricately arranging flight arrival times if we’re all in the same country? I can just work it out with a couple of weeks’ notice!
Uh, yeah. About that.
The inspiration for this post is my friend Molly’s invitation to come back to Denver for the Easter break to hang out. For those with short memories or who’ve just started reading this travesty of a publication, Molly is the legend that let me crash on her futon for a couple of weeks when I first re-entered the US with my green card, and did more airport runs for me than anyone would consider fair or reasonable, so obviously I was excited about the prospect of a weekend in Colorado catching up, now that I’m a totally licensed and tax-paying American resident and all. Plus, y’know, Denver has sidewalks and sushi.
But when I checked out flight schedules for that weekend, I was slapped in the face with reality. Even when I’m earning (several) US dollars (per month), $650 is a lot for round-trip flights for a weekend. And the reality of my work hours means having to juggle either late-night or early-morning flights, piecing together connections since Augusta isn’t exactly the biggest transportation hub on the east coast, potentially working an extra day so I could have the Friday off, and then of course convincing my boss of three months to actually let me do all that.
The same problem appears to want to repeat itself too, given I’m in the very north-eastern corner of the country and many of my friends are spread out across the Midwest and beyond. Losing two hours flying back into the east coast cuts short weekends away even more, and airports suck so hard that I’d be worrying enough as it was about losing precious hours visiting friends because of delays, or my predilection for being places early so I can definitely make that $600 flight.
The catch, of course, with having relocated to the US is that I don’t have the disposable income or the ludicrous amounts of vacation time afforded to me by my former employers. Operating on a much more narrow schedule and tighter budget obviously restricts how far I can go from home, how long I can go for and how much I can spend.
But in saying all that, it will make those visits all the sweeter. There’s something in the works for a big Fourth of July weekend somewhere on the east coast, and all things going to plan I’ll be in Providence and Omaha on back-to-back weekends in September. I’m also working enough overtime and hopefully racking up enough brownie points to be able to earn a shift shuffle or two so I can get back to Colorado within the next couple of months guilt- (and bankruptcy-) free.
Because I miss all my Americanos. If I don’t get to see y’all, doesn’t that defeat half the purpose of being here?