Category Archives: expat

my experiences with becoming a UK resident

American mini tour

I’ve been thinking about writing a blog post for a couple of weeks, but it’s been a flurry of distracting activity as I wrapped up work obligations before a long flight over the Atlantic.
I’m going “home” for the first time in six years. I am anxious. My fingers are sore from the chewing I’ve inflicted on my cuticles. I have had disrupted sleep and digestive issues. Although I’m visiting people I love who also love me, I’m deeply unsettled by one thing: mom won’t be there. Mom is dead. The last time I was in Janesville was to care for her as she died.

I was starting to heal. Maybe I don’t give myself enough credit- I don’t really write to her anymore in my Letters to Mom blog section, and I don’t think about her as frequently I used to. I don’t torture myself mentally and emotionally anymore over the end-of-life care we were faced with in autumn 2010. And I finally managed to get the memory book I wrote after her death printed, which includes photographs I took during those whirlwind couple of months we had together. I’ll be time travelling back to emotions I was just starting to accept, but I’m not the only one- I’m staying with Aaron, and he was involved in it all too. Seeing each other will be great, but it will bring with it some tough stuff we’ll be helpless to avoid.

Originally, I was trying to get back to the US for the fortieth birthday of one of the best people on the planet: Jodi. However, September is an expensive time of year to travel, so we postponed till I could get flights that didn’t cost an arm, leg, and kidney. I’m flying out tomorrow. In the middle of the trip, I have a mini-trip to North Carolina to see family I haven’t seen in person since 1985. In fact, we only reconnected a few years ago through Facebook. I’ve had a few different surnames which makes me harder to Google, but I have two brothers (by my adoption), and so the Parrish children are about to be reunited. It’s going to be weird and wonderful.

That’s not to say this whole American mini tour won’t be weird and wonderful- it will be that and more, I know it. I am looking forward to hanging out with my friends, cooking for them, going to Target, small town bars, and laughing in the same room instead of through computer screens. I know it’s going to be a good time, and I hate that my brain is tainting it all with anxiety. Although I’ve done lots of solo travel and long flights alone too, I wish I could take Pete with me. A little piece of what has become my “normal” life would be comforting, and he’d love meeting Jodi and Aaron in person. Sadly, no money for it this time, but maybe going this alone is what I need anyway to work on my closure of certain emotions. I’ll have plenty of thinking time on planes and coaches, that’s for sure.

So, to those I’m seeing soon in America: I love you, and I’m looking forward to seeing you. I’m just not looking forward to the dark stuff I’m facing and I know you understand. See you soon. There will be hugs.

No place like home

Yet another reason I love where I live: I walked up to the village shop to pick up a few bits; the winds here today (and most of the winter on the North Cornish coast…) are hardcore.

On the way back from the shop, an older couple were bundled in coats with hoods up, walking their small dogs. As we approached one another, I smiled and said cheerily, “A great day for kiting!” to which they both smiled, laughed and replied, “but not for much else!” It was a brief, fun, positive exchange on a day where it’d be too easy to keep your head down and suffer the weather.

But not here. Here – no matter what the weather or level of social awkwardness – most people say hello, smile, and try not to grumble.
I love my community. 🙂

Toll House cookies – a luxury

You wouldn’t think something as simple as chocolate chip cookies would be a luxury in the UK, and certainly there are plenty of them here, but Toll House cookies are unheard of.

Several feet of cookies cooling

When you’re raised on these you have a deep expectation as to what a cookie should be. Seemed there was always an open bag of morsels in the cupboard for direct ’emergency’ chocolate consumption use too. And butterscotch chips? Oh, let me wallow in the mention of butterscotch chips…

Still wallowing…


And I’m back. Yes, these little yellow bags of wonder have always been a huge part of my life, but here’s what I don’t get:
The UK has Nestlé products.
The UK likes baking cookies, even chocolate chip cookies.
The UK does not have Nestlé Toll House morsels.

Sure I can get them through import companies that sell other delights such as Frank’s Red Hot Sauce, and Aunt Jemima Syrup, but it is an expensive luxury to order from these companies, and to be honest, most of what they stock I am far healthier doing without anyway. I do place the odd order, but that’s my fault for introducing Neil to a few delicious American things, two of those being mentioned above.

The above photo of Toll House cookies is made possible by the selfless act of my dear friend Jodi. She packed her carry-on bag full of Toll House chips, Twizzlers, and Sour Patch Jellybeans. They must have thought she was the hungriest passenger ever. We made my favourite Toll House butterscotch oatmeal cookies while she was visiting us, and I’m trying to pace myself with the remaining bags of morsels. I’m not a big eater of sweets or baked things, but the comforting smell of fresh-baked cookies is something I’m enjoying tremendously today.

Thank you, Jodi!