Today marks exactly three years since my four children and I stepped off a plane from Britain to join my husband and their father and embark on a new life in America. Three years is a weird way-marker because in some ways it feels like we have not been here that long and in other ways it feels like we are way more established here than we would be after a mere three years. We are inbetweeners.
Looking back, I think the first year of life here was very much about just surviving. Back then I was so focused on getting through each day and each new challenge that I could not distance myself enough to have adequate perspective to recognise that we were just surviving. I was just putting one foot in front of the other, sometimes stumbling, but mostly moving forwards. However, so much has happened in these first three years that have helped us put down roots and start to feel settled here. We bought a house – which was a massive deal for starting to “belong” – and everyone got settled into rhythms and routines, adjusted to new schools and work places, made new friends, developed new traditions to meld with the old ones we imported from Scotland, passed driving tests, and the children officially became American citizens. Now I alone am the only Green Card holder, the only alien.
All of these things mean that we are well out of survival territory. But nor are we quite thriving here yet or at least not in every area of life. The transition takes far, far longer than one could ever anticipate. It’s a long journey. And there are road bumps. And tolls. And wrong turns that need to be corrected. We are still moving towards the same fixed destination but it is just taking a bit longer than we expected. So, to mix my metaphors, we are in this weird No Man’s Land between Surviving and Thriving.
Long time readers might recall my Lego nightmare and how it became a metaphor for our immigration experience. I am happy to report that most of the Lego sets have now been rebuilt and are displayed on shelves and played with regularly. However, there are a few sets left to build and there are some that are going to be extremely challenging to rebuild because it seems that some critical pieces are missing. We will get there with the Lego and with the feeling of being settled enough to thrive.