American Girl

We will be "completing" on our house next Friday and moving in. When I talk to friends and family back home about this process I say things like: "I think this might be the same thing as a closing?"

This has got me thinking about the fact that I barely know how to be an American adult. The older I get, the more I realize that my grown-up experience in the U.S. is limited to graduating from college and getting my first apartment and job. I may know how to tip in a New York City bar, and the where the best hangover food is located, but I've never bought a property, had to sort out a health insurance nightmare or even had the experience of quitting a job in my home country.

Sometimes this really starts to feel scary. Perhaps this has to do with the fact that I am adding "house" to my list of permanent British connections -- a list that so far includes passport and husband. And all my worldly belongings are now in this country after the enormous box arrived from my parents this summer with all my childhood items.

I no longer remember if certain expressions originate in the U.K. or the U.S. -- we write in American English at the office, and I am no more a good reference for people asking if a phrase would be understood on the other side of the Atlantic. I finally know what pulling up stumps means. I use loo roll and washing-up liquid. I wear trousers and jumpers. (I also am aware that Ireland uses the euro.)

I find it disconcerting that when I do return to America, that local newscasters I grew up with look older, the hosts of late-night talk shows have changed numerous times and I no longer know much about pop culture there, including reality T.V. programs (probably a blessing). It's funny how it's a global world these days but there are still some things that stay local.

But one of the very important things I've learned being an expat for so many years is that identity and culture are a very fluid concept and well they should be. Holding onto one cultural identity and believing it defines you can be very dangerous indeed -- it's ego-driven in a way that doesn't allow you to see that people may be different, but ultimately we're all human beings just trying to get by in this world.  

So I may be an American girl and a British adult, but it's probably not helpful to even think this way. Wherever I live and whatever happens, I'll hopefully be able to just figure things out as I go -- day by day. Which is an important thing to remember generally when you're embarking on something as big as a house move.

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