Alceis Blog

Goodbye Surrey, last days before moving to Chicago (2/2)

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Christine spent several years expatriate in Surrey. She is American and moved back to Chicago recently. Just before leaving England, she posted everyday her feelings on FB. She gently accepted to share these posts on our blog. This month, the last 3 days.


Sometimes I wonder if we did the right thing by becoming expatriates. It was hard for my family. Third Culture Kids, Trailing Spouse and all that. But I believe a person has about a hundred years to live and we should do as much as we can while we're on Earth. Time is going to go by whether we do something or not, right? When my firstborn left for university and told me she wanted to study Filmmaking and LGBT studies, I worried. Now those topics are in the news everyday. She's a smart girl and ready to make changes in this world! My middle child is preparing at both university and government internships to enter the political arena to make education better. She's willing to get involved for change! My son is the negotiator who always sees the big picture and tries to move the room in that direction with humour and intelligence. He will be entering Chapman University this Fall. My husband took a couple of body blows to his career when the Arab Spring stalled a project, then an Omani government renegotiation stalled the next, then the price of oil stalled a third in the North Sea. His new job in the USA is a promotion and a commitment he feels good about. My future role is less well defined. Here, I have been on the TASIS TPA, been on the AWBS Board, been a substitute teacher at TASIS, been an Olympics Volunteer, a Magna Carta Ambassador, the paid Assistant Manager of a thrift shop, and a Steward at St Georges Chapel. I'm only halfway through my hundred years, so, who knows what will come next? We have proven to be a pretty adaptable group. And yes, I do think it was the right decision.


Today I hand back my Windsor Castle Security Pass. Of the 6 years I have lived in England, I have been a Steward at St George's Chapel for 5 and a half of them. One of the 3 Americans out of 180 Stewards. I belong here. I have been part of an organisation which began centuries ago. I am part of a place where Henry VIII and 9 other Monarchs are buried. I have been privileged to lead tours on behalf of the Chapel. I've always loved turning right on Castle Hill at the Queen Victoria statue and driving into the castle grounds to park as if it were just a normal thing to do. The tourists all look at me and wonder who I am. Yes, I say, I belong here. When I am wearing my Murray Red Steward's robe, standing inside at the West End looking toward the Quire, I feel At Home. I belong here. All those proper, smart, stiff-upper-lip Stewards accepted me right away. I had joined a fraternity that still referred to Americans as 'the Victors' and yet they made me feel right at home right away. In my time in England, I felt the most at home in St Georges Chapel and I will be forever grateful for this experience. Me and God: hangin' at the Chapel.


As I write this, I am flying from England to the USA. I am the physical embodiment of my Repatriation: between 2 countries which I have called home. As an expat, when I am asked where is home, I have joked that it is where the Internet hooks up automatically. Home for me is where I feel safe. I'm a long way from that, on either side of this airplane. Any time now, that paradigm switch will kick in. The one which will give me the energy and excitement to reinvent myself in the city I am moving to, in which I have never lived. Right? But for now, I am still the old me and I miss my house, my dog, my friends, and my life in England. Thank you to everyone who said they liked my Repatriation Posts, because it made me feel connected. I am currently unconnected, because I'm up in the air.


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