Friday, January 23, 2009

Snakes in the grass (and that's where they should stay)

Ok, so I've just discovered two halves of a dead snake in the spare room..

A gift from our young puppy, but strangely enough it got me thinking about England. The most interesting thing you'll find in your house back there is a big hairy, harmless, but still scary house spider.

I've lived in Houston for nearly four years now without returning home for a visit. I do miss it, but I have an amazing life here so it's usually just those odd moments when something random reminds you of the things you miss, although the spiders certainly aren't one of them!

I remember one time when I was living alone that one such spider had been cornered at the top of the stairs. I needed to get downstairs, which was the kind of narrow, steep staircase you usually find in 100 year old houses.

So there I was, stuck, not knowing how I was going to get down the stairs when I turned back to my bedroom to see what I could find to aid my escape. All I could come up with was a can of spray deodorant, and a vacuum cleaner. So getting to work, I used the deodorant was used to stun the wild animal, and then the vacuum cleaner was used to suck up the remains as my nemesis fell confused to the floor. A trick I learned watching Ghostbusters when I was a kid.

Anyway, back to my original point (not the dead snake). Life is so different now than back in England. I lived in Houston for three years between the ages of 18 and 21 and never really settled. I felt like I hadn't had the chance to 'live' in England. By that I mean being old enough to make my own decisions and live the way I wanted to. I compared absolutely everything in Houston to Manchester, and there was only ever going to be one winner there. Six years later I returned to Houston, wisened by the cold struggle I'd endured and looking forward to spending my days in the sunshine.

As I said, I haven't been back to visit since leaving in 2005. Not because I don't want to, but because I don't need to. I've planned to go back every year but something always comes up to change those plans.

I know a lot of people who have moved to Houston from all over the world and it tends to be the older ones who settle easiest. This surprises me as they have more memories back home, and seemingly have more to leave. The problem I think the younger ones have, the ones who have basically grown up here, is they have only romantic memories, not necessarily of their homeland, but of their childhood, the friends they had at school, playing out in the street, family members they don't see anymore (Grandparents who have died etc). They build up this image into something that can't possibly be matched. This is amplified whenever they have a bad day and think "well, I can always go back home", thinking they can leave all their problems behind and live happily ever after.

It's funny how you become much more patriotic for your home country when you live somewhere else. It's not that you really want to go back. You miss the good things you liked, while forgetting about the bad things you didn't. I know the standard of living I would have there, and there's no comparison to the standard of living I can have in Houston.

My six years back in England gave me the experiences I craved when I was younger. Experiences I wouldn't have had staying in Houston and I don't regret it at all. In fact, now that I'm settled in Houston with a good job, a nice house and a beautiful wife I feel I'm really seeing the benefits of that time served. I also think my kids (when they come) will benefit from my decision although it is important they learn about their English and Irish heritage.

Thanks for listening, and see you next time.


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