Time flies. I’ve been living here in New Jersey now for six full months. So much has happened in that time that I’ve barely had time to write about it. I’ve attended two weddings (both of them mine). I’ve had the opportunity to show my son around my new home before reluctantly waving him off at Newark Airport. I’ve seen the Boss play in a small theatre in his spiritual homeland of Asbury Park, and I’ve spent a lot of time in my favourite city, New York.
So, you may be wondering how it’s all going? Did the great romance stay strong after the yearnings of distance dissipated? Does domestic bliss live up to the dream? Are we still even talking after all those years of Skype conversations?
I’m happy to report that the answer to all those questions is a resounding YES. If I’m honest, there wasn’t even a breaking in period. I just slipped right into the chaos that is a house full of hormonal teens and over-excitable dogs as if this had always been my life.
Not that there haven’t been trials and tribulations along the way, it’s just that they have all been external. The relationship is our rock and is what gets us through said trials.
I love the tiny town we live in. It is the sort of place most people aspire to; quiet, friendly, and safe. I’ve never lived anywhere quite like it. The town mayor married us under the trees across the road from our kid’s school. I have daily conversations with the crossing guards (on the morning walk to said kid’s school) in which I’m kept all up to date with the local happenings.
By chance, I met the town’s (amateur historian), Joe a few months back. Over several conversations, he’s filled me in on some of the more fascinating aspects of the town’s history. This town was incorporated in 1926 after a referendum which was conducted on my Birthday (a fact I consider a good augur). One of the two town churches dates back to the 1750’s and is among the oldest in the county.
I’m a huge history buff (as I’m sure you’ve already worked out if you’ve been reading this blog) and living among so much of it has been a thrill I haven’t experienced since my time in the UK.
And then there’s this one other thing.
I mentioned this is a tiny town – more a village really. The population is well below 2,000 and yet it now has two Australians among its inhabitants. I first met Michael at our elementary school on one of my earlier visits. I’ve always enjoyed walking the youngest to school and, when she was younger, I’d usually pick her up too.
One afternoon, as I was waiting for her to emerge, a chap approached me and said, in an unmistakeable Sydney accent, “you’re from Australia too, right?” His kids and our kids had been talking and I’d been pointed out.
You may not find this that unusual, after all, there are thousands of Australians living in the US. That at least was my take at first as we chatted about where we were from and what had brought us to this distant part of the world (in both cases the love of a Jersey girl).
Then he asked me exactly where I was born, I told him Darlinghurst in Sydney and he immediately said, “Me too! Which hospital?”
“It doesn’t even exist anymore,” I joked and he exclaimed, “Saint Margaret’s? Me too!”
What are the odds that two men of a similar age, born in exactly the same place, should both end up married to women from New Jersey and both wind up in the same tiny village?
I was reminded of all this as I was walking to the Post Office this morning and Michael came running by me in the blistering heat (mad dogs, Englishmen, and people from Sydney). We have not become friends (despite the obvious impetus we have towards it), contenting ourselves with mild pleasantries whenever our paths cross. I think the strangeness of the situation is something we both find a little too unsettling.
I’m aware I went a little off topic there but the anecdote was too strange for me not to include it and I’ve been mulling it over since I got back from the Post Office.
Words and image are my own.