Monkey puzzle

17 Jun

It seems that no matter how hard I try, no matter how my previous forty years of not knowing anything about green growing things presses on me, I can’t help but learn the names of trees and flowers here in England.  One of my favorite newly-named-to-me growing things is the monkey puzzle tree.

monkey puzzle

Araucaria araucana, there it is.  I love to greet these tall evergreens whenever we see them in a garden — it’s like saying hi to a new friend you never expected to meet and are always glad to see.  Hi, monkey puzzle!

It’s no secret that I have found transitioning to our life in the UK very difficult.  I’ve felt like I’ve had all the upside and downside of  bipolar disorder, without the medication or therapy.  The enduring not-homeness of this country will always be with me.  I’m still fighting the weather, no one understands my accent, and why the hell can’t anyone drive omfg, and yet … the list of things I love and have brought in to my heart about England are growing.

Scones, clotted cream, a decent cup of tea.  Adventure playgrounds around each corner.  Walking everywhere.  Incredibly supportive marshals at races and strangers cheering me on at the gym.  Ale.  Pies.  Puddings.  Sunday Roast.  Charity shops.  A culture of volunteerism like I’ve never seen.  Everyone going for lunch by 12:15.  National Trust, English Heritage.  Green grass all winter.  Bits of history not only vibrant under every surface, but still living in day to day life.  A pace of life just a few notches slower than in the U.S.  Health care as a human right. The hilarity of enjoying a warm fire all year round.

Each small thing I am coming to love about England is a small reminder that  this can be home, too.  Even though, right in this moment, all I want to do is jump in the car and drive to the Eastern Shore, walk barefoot in my bathingsuit on the boardwalk eating fries, get a sunburn in the warm ocean, eat boardwalk pizza and stay up late to watch the sun set over the waves … I know a proper brew and the promise of more roses in my garden will make this home enough for me to make it though another day.

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4 Responses to “Monkey puzzle”

  1. RMW June 17, 2013 at 3:57 pm #

    I can relate. I have lived in the US (and the Los Angeles area) all my adult life. But I still consider myself to be a Brit, as do most people I meet, possibly because I still have vestiges of my accent and I make no secret about it. However, when I am in England I am mysteriously 100% American, accent and all. That bipolar feeling never goes away. But after spending a considerable amount of time fighting it, I now treat it as a positive as it gives me a different perspective on life. But I still cling to the idea that one day I will retire to a little village in the south west of England and live happily ever after… even though I realize I would not be at all happy doing that!

    • Monique June 20, 2013 at 6:05 pm #

      I so appreciate hearing the experiences of expats who have been living this life for many years. 🙂 I honestly never appreciated how emotionally difficult it could be to live in another country. I’ve moved around the US many times and thought this would be just like that, only with a longer flight time. Boy, how wrong I was! Laughing to hear that your accent shifts with your location. I wonder if I’ll bring an England accent to the US with me! Thanks as always for commenting!

  2. aubreyepp June 18, 2013 at 7:41 am #

    Reading that list of things you love made me happy, and then the following paragraph made me tear up. Summer is the hardest time of year for me. I never thought I’d miss three straight months of 100+ degrees and lakes that stain your swimsuits red, BUT I DO. Your summer recollections of boardwalks and ocean sunsets sound amazing. I want to go there. Today!

    • Monique June 20, 2013 at 6:06 pm #

      Let’s go! The ultimate day of hooky. (Shhhhh: I still have some salt water taffy from Rehoboth double-wrapped in my pantry. I may need to break it out … once the kids are asleep … )

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