93. Streets of your town

 

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.

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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.

 

©2017

 

 

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92. Come what may

 

I’m writing these words whilst sitting at the dining room table in Jersey girl’s house. Yes, I have arrived in New Jersey. The long and often arduous process which got us both to this point is now largely – though, not yet completely – behind us.

I simply cannot express the emotions involved in typing the paragraph above. We have waited so long for those words to be true and not just some expression of hope. And now, at last, they are true – I am here.

I have left job, family, and home. I have travelled with all I have to my name contained in just four very heavy bags and landed safely – if somewhat dazed –  into my new country.

Over the last couple of weeks in Melbourne I found out exactly how loved I was by friends and family. This made my last days in Australia bittersweet as I realised just how much I would miss certain folk.

I also found out exactly who amongst my friends were actually mere acquaintances in disguise. That too was a valuable lesson.

So now I am home. I sit here in this pretty house surrounded by the last snows of the season a very large dog curled at my feet. The day is cold but bright and the house lays silent. I have walked the youngest to school and waved Jersey girl off to work. The place is mine for the next few hours. I’ll probably spend several of those hours sleeping, as jetlag is still weighing on my eyelids.

Yesterday we loaded the kids into the car and drove over to the lake. It’s one of our favourite spots and I wanted to see (and photograph) the valley under snow before it was all gone.

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As expected, the place was magical and the perfect setting for this first day of our new life as a family.

It has been a long, insanity-inducing journey which has led up to this moment. There were times both of us thought it was never going to happen but our faith in each other kept the madness at bay – well, mostly.

Now, all our days together are stretched out before us. We have absolutely no idea what comes next. All we can say for certain is that, come what may, we will face it together.

Words and images are my own.

©2017

91. Who will I become in the USA?

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What is this land of America, so many travel there
I’m going now while I’m still young, my darling meet me there
Wish me luck my lovely, I’ll send for you when I can
And we’ll make our home in the American land

Springsteen, American land

A day I had almost believed I would never see has finally arrived. My trip to the US Consulate in Sydney was the final flaming hoop (of many) in this bureaucratic circus act I’ve been performing in for nigh on a year now.

After an unpleasant interview (more about which I will be writing in the near future) I have received my visa to travel to America and marry my Jersey girl.

I have my arrival date and the tickets are paid for but I will not be sharing that here just yet. There is a spy in the house of love, a dirty POS who would love nothing more than to get a hold of that particular piece of information so as to find some way to ‘spannerize’ our special moment.

All that you, dear reader, need know for now is that we will soon be together under the same roof with no end date hanging over our heads like that thread-hung sword of old.

I’d like to take this opportunity to offer my heartfelt thanks to all of you who have taken an interest in our little star-crossed (until now) love story. You have given more solace in the darker times than you know.

The story will continue, if in a slightly different form. You will get to experience my new homeland through my newcomer’s eyes. I will continue to take copious photographs and wax lyrical about all things Bruceland. And there’s the wedding of course.

I hope you can stick around to share the love. It wouldn’t quite be the same without you.

Words and image are my own.

©2017