Monday, August 31, 2015

London to Indiana: A Most Unlikely Relocation

Since 2008, I have resided—in tandem with my American wife—in the Midwestern state of Indiana. This fact alone might not seem all that unusual. The bizarre part, however, is the fact that I’d given up the bustling city of London (population: 8 million) for Indiana’s largely rural terrain and the city of Anderson (population: 56,000) at the very point when I’d been perfectly content living in a major city.

Years earlier, I couldn’t have seen myself negotiating daily life in either place. I had grown up in the English fishing town of Grimsby, a grainy dot on the map of North East Lincolnshire. As an 18-year-old, I reconciled that I would not leave Grimsby, where—I then imagined—I would likely live and work until the Reaper himself called time on my days.

Watching all of my friends leave the town for their respective universities, however, quickly shook me out my small world view. So much so that I, too, eventually gave up Grimsby for the far-off distant world of… Lancaster.

Located on the opposite coast of England, a mind-bending 158 miles from my little fishing town, it was at Lancaster that I came not only to study and broaden my horizons but to meet various foreign students hailing from a country I would—completely unbeknownst to me—eventually refer to as “home”: America.

As I befriended many of these Americans, I began to amass a contact list of students from what seemed like every state in the Union. Through conversations, which would routinely be interrupted by the mutual acknowledgement of hilarious language differences, I came to develop a new-found interest in American life. It carried with it a certain level of romance. Not in the way one would expect of, say, France or Italy, but more in the cinematic sense.

One of the students was a young redhead from a place called Indiana, about which I knew admittedly little. Not long after our initial hellos, myself and the young redhead started hanging out, frequenting the same Chinese restaurant, and going to anything bearing a passing resemblance to a night club. Before I knew it, she was applying labels to me, such as “boyfriend”, and to this day I’m not entirely convinced my accent didn’t expedite this process.

After one semester, though, the young redhead headed home. We continued—despite the emotional turmoil caused by both each other’s absence and the thankfully-now-defunct MSN Chat—to date long-distance. In the meantime, I took up a job (several, actually) in London, where—I then imagined—I would likely live and work until the Reaper himself called time on my days.

Marriage to this young redhead in 2008, however, quickly shook me out of my medium-sized world view.

I moved to Indiana.

At this point, you may be thinking I gave up England merely because I was in love. While there was certainly a lot of truth to this, it would ignore the fact that my wife, too, was a London lover and we had actually been in the process of trying to secure her visa when we were knocked for six by circumstances beyond our control. For those keeping count, it was November, 2008. A major worldwide news event was breaking in November, 2008. Businesses were struggling to stay open amid the worst recession in modern times and workers were being let go left, right, and centre. I was one of them.

With the severance package I received, we bought two plane tickets to Indiana. These were one-way tickets, you understand. We believed then—naively or otherwise—that the best way to ride out the economic storm would be to head where the cost of living was low.

Today, some seven years on, the wife and I reside in Indianapolis, where—I imagine—we will likely live and work until the Reaper himself calls time on our days. Or until we move to France or Italy.

This article was written by Laurence Brown. Laurence is a British expat living in Indianapolis, Indiana, and writes for BBC America and Anglotopia. He is Editor-in-chief of Lost in the Pond and loves nothing more than to share these articles with anglophiles, expats, and other interested parties on social media. Follow Lost in the Pond on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

Grew up in Indiana, couldn't wait to leave! Took me awhile, but I'm now in Northamptonshire (Brackley, to be exact), resident in the UK for six years, married to a Brit for 17 years (we first lived in Virginia before hopping across the pond).
Glad you enjoy Indiana - my family is still mostly there but I get claustrophobic after a week or so whenever I visit. I consider Virginia to be my US home, but quite happily settled in the UK. Very much enjoy your blog and writing.

Laurence M. Brown said...

I can definitely relate to the claustrophobic feel of Indiana - especially here in the last year or so. Mind you, that could be because I've not been home in 7 years.

Elizabeth West said...

Fellow Midwesterner (Missouri) here. I'd love to do the opposite and move to the UK. I love it there and hate it here. Alas, unless I get married, that probably isn't going to happen; I can't make enough money to live in London--Cardiff is a possibility--though it would be difficult to get a job so far away. I can do my current job remotely (and did on my last UK visit) but the time difference made for some long days! Perhaps a door will open soon; you never know! For now, I have family there and can visit. :)

I hope you can manage a visit of your own soon, Laurence.

Laurence M. Brown said...

Yes, if you do get the chance to relocate to the UK, Elizabeth, I would definitely take it. It's true that London is pricey, but there's always Manchester, Liverpool, Newcastle, Leeds etc, if it's a big city you're after.

As for me, I do miss home, and certainly hope to visit soon.

Anonymous said...

Hey, I still reside in Frankton! It's what, 15 miles from Anderson?

I can't believe any rational person from England would move to east central Indiana to attempt to escape the Recession, that's exactly where it's hit the hardest...you truly must love your wife!

But anyways, your writing is very entertaining! Keep it up, man!

Christie Michal said...

Didn't you say you were moving to Seattle recently?

Laurence M. Brown said...

I'm certainly looking into Seattle, yes. But France or Italy could never be ruled out. :-)

Fergie Meek said...

I discovered your blog today and I think I will be reading a lot of it. I moved to Fort Wayne from Scotland 3 years ago and haven't been having any success at fitting in (I commented on your BBC America article about it today). I hope to learn something from reading the thoughts from another person from the UK (I haven't talked to anyone from the UK in Fort Wayne, I don't think they exist!), maybe it will help me as I just want to go home (but can't for several reasons - elderly relative needing care, daughter in school, wife glad to be home in Indiana!).

Laurence M. Brown said...

Fergie, I lived briefly in Fort Wayne. I believe, if nothing else, the city does have one or two Irish/British pubs. Failing that, Indianapolis does have a fairly big population of British people - myself included - as well as a monthly British meet-up group: http://www.meetup.com/Downtown-Indy-British-Interest-Meetup/

Bev Watson said...

Just thinking that I should move back to Indiana(Petersburg) My parents left a Pre-Civil war house and land and my sister is living in it(10 big rooms) Might put a house behind it and keep her company.Lots of British relatives have stayed in that house and lots of lovely tea parties.

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