Thursday, August 27, 2015

Life of an outsider

Caught on the inside, looking out
I realised that come 5 September I will have lived in the UK permanently for 27 years, basically all of my adult life. My memories of the US are stuck back in the Reagan era, pre-internet. Yes I have visited family and friends since moving over here but I haven't live there. I have lived in the North East. And yet every so often, someone says to me -- you are not from around here.
My accent is somewhere over the mid Atlantic, so I don't sound like a Geordie or even posh Northumbrian. To someone who isn't British, I sound British. To someone who is, they can hear the American. In that sense, I am not from around here, but the statement still galls.
I have lived in this house for 19 years. Small saplings have grown into trees. I had all my grown children at the local hospital when it still had a functioning maternity ward. I can even remember when they had a pediatric  ward.  I can even remember the Hexham Mart and when where Tescos at Hexham is now was just a small nursery (we still have the green plastic watering can I bought there). My children were all locally educated.
And yet, when people say things like you are not from around here, I nod my head and inwardly cringe. Because deep in my heart  I worry...maybe I don't belong. This is nonsense of course. I do. And to be fair, I have had friends who were from Devon who have had the same treatment -- of you are not from the North East. Some people are just insularly rude.
But I am American. I have just the one passport. I still celebrate American holidays and love lots about America -- even if at the moment I have no intention of going back there to live. I am part of the 8 million migrants who now reside in the UK. I am here legally. My husband and I jumped through many hoops 27 years ago to get me my visa and right to reside here permanently. I do believe migration should be managed and have little time  for illegal migration. I like to think I made and continue to make a contribution to the local area.
Maybe I just like the life of an outsider. I am not sure but what I am sure of  is that I am not going apologise for it any more.

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