10 Years as a British Expat

28 August 2001 brought myself and my British boyfriend on a flight to Phoenix, Arizona fresh from Burford, Oxfordshire, England.  On deciding to make the move with John we sold my house in Swindon, Wiltshire and opted to keep John’s house in Burford for the next 12 months while we saw what we thought.  What a difference both in surroundings and temperatures!  I had been out three times before.  Once in March of that year on a business trip with my boyfriend after which he asked if I would be interested in moving with him; the second in May to source somewhere to live; and the third in July when we attended the Infosol’s Annual Conference in Vegas.  The second week of this trip we drove across to Phoenix to finalise our details.  Infosol was the reason we were moving out here.  John had worked with the owner of Infosol for a number of years as he had had his own business back in England, but now John was leaving his business to work for Paul.  Here we are 10 years on!

On arrival, it was a Monday, we stayed at the Candlewood Suites while we waited for our apartment to be ready.  We had also organised the purchase of some furniture back in July but all we arrived with were a couple of cases of clothes each so we spent the next few days going backwards and forwards to what was to be our new favourite store, Target!  We went backwards and forwards to this store picking up what we felt were essentials: vacuum cleaner; bedding; towels; electric kettle (this was not an easy find); and so on.  We moved into Terra Vista apartments in Cave Creek for the next 14 months.  Why Cave Creek I hear you ask.  I knew no one outside of my boyfriend and he was to be doing a lot of travelling.  Phoenix is a sprawling metropolis and the only person I knew slightly was John’s boss and wife.  They lived with their family in Cave Creek.  It is located in North Phoenix and creeps up against the mountains and has that slight elevation which means we are always those few degrees cooler than downtown Phoenix, which, in the heat of the Summer make all the difference.

The next 9 months were going to be difficult.  As John and I were not married we had been told that I was not eligible for a long-term visa and would have to continue to use the visa waiver scheme meaning that I could stay no longer than 90 days in the US and had to go back to the UK.  We booked a return flight for November 5.  We had been told that our personal items that we had shipped out from the UK would take about 6 weeks maximum which would give us plenty of time.  We thought we had done all our homework with vast quantities of reading through books, internet etc and then the world changed!  September 11, 2001! Need I say more. Everything we thought we new was no longer.  Our shipping didn’t arrive until November 3rd our monies, paperwork etc were all held up and processes for visas, Green Cards and so on changed.  They change continually and it is up to you to make sure you always know what is going on.

On April 15, 2002 John and I were married at the Couples Resort (known as Tower Isle), Ochos Rios, Jamaica.

Just Married

We opted to have no family or friends present, but did then have a wedding reception back in Highworth, Wiltshire (where my parents live) at end of May.  This would allow me the opportunity to go back to the UK to sort out my visa paperwork, update my passport and then for John to come over and we could celebrate with friends and family alike.  I took the opportunity to get family wedding photos and so got to wear my wedding dress twice.  The reception was held at the local rep and anyone that we knew who made something participated.  My Mum sells at Cirencester Farmers Market and my father is a beekeeper so between them I think they know anyone and everyone.

October 2002 saw us selling John’s house back in Burford and purchasing our own not too far from where we had been in the apartment.  Yes, we had decided to stay.

During our time here we have had so may guests.  My mum has been out too many times to count whereas my Dad has been out I think 4 or 5 times.  John’s parents have been out at least half a dozen times.  My English Grandmother came out to visit at the ripe old age of 87.  My mother flew out with her and then my Grandmother flew onto Chicago to stay with an Aunt there.  We’ve also had my mother’s best friend from Oslo, Norway with her daughter, Margrethe, come and stay with us for a few days too.  So many family members have made it out and we thank you all for wanting to spend holiday time with us.  OK, the fact that we have so much sunshine, a pool and a spa may help too.

2003 saw John bringing a previous work colleague, Steve D, out to work.  They had worked together in 2 previous companies so had known each other for far longer than I had known John.  Steve brought his wife, Joy with him and I believe she is still enjoying the fact that instead of working full time she is spending vast quantities of time birding (a true passion of hers and if you ever need any information she will always have the answer for you).

What I have learned during my time here, and continue to learn even after 10 years, is although we both speak the same language, English, it is still very different.  My work prior to coming out was as an administrator and I have to admit I still find it difficult to switch my spelling to the American way whereas John, who has spent much of his working life working with Americans spells and says things differently to me.  Of course, Kirsten, in my mind, is not only a dual citizen but is bilingual too.  It is quite a regular occurance that the teachers have to ask what something means or, if Kirsten explained it herself, they find it cute.  We’re going through the phase of using plasters at the moment, but of course here, they are bandaids.

So where are we. Oh yes.  2003 saw us with our first addition to the family, Mohawk,Our first Cavalier King Charles Spaniel a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel purchased from a local breeder, Hurricane Dogs.  I think I’ve shared pictures recently showing that Mohawk is now 8 years and 4 months and instead of being the few pounds he was when we got him is now 30lbs and definitely becoming a grouchy old man.  We added to the brood with Charlotte around September of 2006.  We purchased Charlotte AKA Muffity Adorable Charlenafrom the same breeder but she was purchased as an adult (3 years old).  She turned 8 this month and is still the petite female that she was when we purchased her although has gained a healthy few pounds.

Next came Kirsten Greer Wilcox.  She arrived May 30, 2007 and what a change she has made to our lives! Introducing Kirsten Greer to the world Now she is an extremely tall, extremely active 4 year old.  She is now at full time montessori in order to keep her in check and she loves it.  She is also sleeping a full night’s sleep for the first time ever.  Last, but definitely not least, we added MarblesA Black Merle American Cocker Spanielto the brood in January of 2010 as a 2 month old American Cocker Spaniel puppy!  Thankfully he has calmed down except for when Kirsten is chasing after him.  What will the next 10 years bring?

Celebrated end of May 2011

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