We’ve been back in the US for just over a month now. The experience this time versus the last is like night and day. Some of the key factors I believe had made a difference:
- When it’s time, it’s time. The last time we came back we weren’t sure we wanted to stay. This time we came back with the purpose to settle down, make our base, and drastically reduce international travel.
- Readiness. Usually by the time we’ve been somewhere for a month I’m starting to think of where else to go. This time I turned down paid travel simply because it involved air travel, and I’m still very over airports and flying. I’ve often said that travel even within your own county or city still counts as travel, and I have been enjoying playing tourist locally.
- Attitude. It really does make a huge difference. We came back with the intention to make our home here, to develop community, etc. Tigger has gone to some local events for teens and is looking forward to getting connected with some other teen groups. Coming here with the thought that “This is home” versus “Can we handle living here again?” really changes how you perceive things. Sure, we still have a bit of reverse culture shock, feel a bit out of place, are readjusting to the currency (on the rare occasions we use physical money instead of a debit card), and my taste buds are still trying to adjust to some of the flavors. I’m also getting used to the odd looks from people who don’t know what to say when I mention we’ve spent the last almost 6 years traveling. And occasionally I still have panicked moments when I’m not sure if I’m driving on the right side of the road. However, moving to any new place always has its adjustments.
- Remembering that no place is perfect. The US certainly has its issues, but it also has many positives. Having lived in so many places, we definitely have seen where every place has it pluses and minuses. Being in lovely surroundings and having the friendliness of Washingtonians really helps the adjustment.
- Happy surprises. One of my big fears about returning to the US was how Tigger would be received as a young transwoman. So far, we have had only positive experiences. The worst we’ve had is people who openly stare at her. Because she’s usually in her own little world in public I’m the only one who really notices. I was fairly anxious during her first “teen night out” experience. But she was completely accepted, other teens and staff were respectful, and one person asked her respectful questions. Recently, we were in a supermarket and someone came up to Tigger while she was bagging our groceries. He initially called her “Sir,” and she calmly corrected him that she was a “Ma’am.” He apologized, corrected himself, gave her a big thumbs-up and said “Total props. Seriously.” This is another reason we came back to Washington. I believed she would have a better experience here, and so far that has definitely been the case.
I’ve also had a great reminder of “When the time is right. . .” I decided I do indeed want a job outside of the home, so I started looking to see what was locally available so I could start working while we do our house sit. I also started checking out towns and cities to see where we might want to relocate. I started feeling drawn to a specific city and out of curiosity I did a job search for that area. A hospice was hiring for two positions that I’m qualified for and have experience in, so I decided to apply.
When I got the call from the recruiter to set up an interview, I discovered I was being interviewed for both positions. Talk about a confidence booster! I figured the odds were very much in my favor in that situation. Two interviews and a meeting later, I was offered a position.
The office is close enough that I can begin working now while still doing our house sit. It’s a big relief to not only have a job doing something I really enjoy, but it also means I’ll have more than enough money saved for us to be able to move into a place after our last sit is finished in December. That was a big stressor.
I’m so excited to move into our own place. Even though I’m not looking forward to the cost of furnishing a new place, we both decided we’d rather move into an unfurnished place and slowly acquire our own stuff. It’s been hard not taking advantage of some sales on household items.
We’re also both very excited about the idea of having our own pets again. We love our temporary pets, but it’s much nicer having pets we don’t have to leave behind constantly.
I never thought I’d be happy to be back in the US, and I definitely never thought I’d be saying “I love my life!” while living a more traditional lifestyle once again.
Sometimes a little “normalcy” isn’t such a bad thing.