I’ve been a resident of the United States for seven days now. It was a move three years in the making, almost on the anniversary of meeting my fiance in a dingy London bar. Right now, while I’m writing this in a corner of our living room in Oxford Ohio, John is playing FIFA with his groomsmen. It is an absolutely joyous, ordinary day.
Ordinary days are something new to us. People in long distance relationships don’t get them. They get days that crackle with anticipation, heavy with the responsibility of being one day out of a limited number. For the first time, I can enjoy hearing his voice in the background while I write without wondering if we should be spending our time on something more meaningful.
Like all first weeks in new countries, this one has stretched. Each of the seven days has brought its own little crisis of adjustment. I’m not homesick yet, but small town Ohio came as a shock. We’re spending my first month in a college town… in summer… when squirrels outnumber humans 3 to 1. I get to walk down canopied avenues without passing another person and buy groceries without waiting in line. It would be nice, if it didn’t make me lonely.
The hardest thing though has been losing my independence. Last year, when I was in Paris with my dad my wallet was stolen. This made me even more dependent on him than I already was. Instead of reacting calmly and graciously, I was more like a puffer fish; my spikes coming out at the nearest opportunity. Poor Dad.
In Ohio I’m not just reliant on John, I’ve stepped out of my life and into his. On my third day here that hit me. We were driving around town running errands like setting up a phone account and buying coat hangers. After one fruitless conversation at the Verizon store (is there any other kind?) we got into the car and John started pulling out. There came my spikes. “Where are you taking me? Just because you’re the one driving doesn’t mean you can just cart me around town like cargo!”
John blinked, halfway out of the parking space, as heaving sobs started coming from me. I had, apparently, only just realised I had moved overseas for a man. Not only that, I had done it before learning to drive. I was useless, helpless and almost alone.
The solution was found at Walmart for $89. It’s a light brown fixed-gear Huffy bike and with it I have conquered Oxford, Ohio. With it I have access to food, non-squirrel interaction and the town’s only espresso machine. With it, I am unstoppable.