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.