Friday, August 9, 2013

Clouds and silver linings

You may have detected a slight reluctance on my part to return to the US. It's true. I'd like to live in Britain (used to say London... weird...), near my family and with the NHS and the BBC - and Cbeebies - and Marmite forever and ever. But I can't. We can't, and we're a family now, so if we can't, that means I can't.

So it's time to get on with the business of moving, and do it in good spirit. Fortunately, for every reservation I have about our move, there's a good, solid mitigating factor. For every con, there is a pro. Or at least, a consolation.

The con: We will be a ten hour flight, and an 8 hour time difference on Skype, from family. Right now I see my sister and her family almost daily, and my mum at least once a week. My other sisters and their families are around quite frequently too. I'd love Lady P to have an 'everyday' sort of relationship with them.
The consolation: Well, we were never going to live in Saltburn forever anyway. And we plan to return for a few weeks every summer. I think a month of quality time with her English family will be enough to give Lady P familiarity with their ways and customs, and to build relationships that mean something. And although they live on the other side of the country, Lady P will see the American wing of her family more often than she would in the UK.

Guns! And the rest.
The con: I will be living - and raising my daughter - in a country where it is legal to carry a firearm, and where the religious right dominates politics. Weird, right? Mainstream American political culture can feel very very foreign to a liberal Brit.
The consolation: Mainstream politics will be about as relevant to our life in a middle class West Coast beach town as the craziness of BNP was to my life in leafy liberal North London. Just as here I know no-one who, say, votes UKIP, I'm pretty sure none of our LA friends are signed up NRA members.

Bad Television
The con: Ads on TV! So very many ads on TV! And Lady P is an impressionable young child. Apparently the average American child sees 16k ads a year. If we lived in Britain and she was raised on CBeebies, she'd never see a single commercial. (I'm going to ignore the dozens of ads in Fashion Police ad breaks that she's already seen whilst being fed. Her mind was on her milk, I'm sure).
The consolation: Technology. That is, TiVo, DVDs, and even a proxy IP that lets us hook up to BBC iPlayer so she won't feel left out when her cousins talk about In the Night Garden,

Health Care
The con: Lady P's birth and subsequent care would be very difficult to replicate in the US. A midwife assisted waterbirth - at no cost?! Not to mention the acupuncture and all those free scans.
The consolation: Actually this is still a bitter pill to swallow. But I suppose what makes it okay is that thanks to Big Corp I won't have to pay too much for health insurance. And I bet the waiting rooms have way better magazines than the NHS ones.

The con: We'll miss out on autumn mists, and cosy winter afternoons when the lamps are lit at 4pm and you can eat soup by the fire with woolly socks on.
The consolation: Year round sunshine, unless you count the 30 days of rain and the marine layer that descends in June to create a misty sort of gloom. T-shirt weather all year round - and socks, and snow, are for ski-trips.
I mean, if you like your beach with a side of blue skies and palm trees...

The con: We'll miss our dear friends in Britain very much.
The consolation: We'll get to see a whole lot more of our dear friends in SoCal.

So, you see, the return to LA isn't all bad news. And when I think about it rationally, like this, I find it easy not just to resign myself to the move, but actually to get quite excited about it. After all, we're returning to the land where lifestyle and convenience are paramount, to a sunshine state, and a city of beaches and outdoor living. How bad can it be?

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