22 March 2011

My American Dream

I grew up in a tiny beach town back in South Africa called (and most often mispronounced) Scottburgh. Normal life was lived behind barred windows and electrified fences but the South Coast surfer's attitude always kept me relaxed. I had always dreamed of one day living in America and as a kid I would fantasize about attending an American high school with lockers, cafeterias, no uniforms and kids driving themselves to school. I used to read comic books and ogle over adverts for scented nail polish and marshmallow flavoured lip balm.

I remember my first trip to the US when I was 12. My aunt and uncle had immigrated from South Africa and we were going to visit them in Savannah, Georgia. From the moment our plane touched down I was in heaven. Post card houses, cul-da-sacs, kids playing basketball in the street, it was just like on TV! They even had real mailboxes... the ones with that red bit that sticks up. I remember being allowed to walk outside in the dark (it was probably only 6pm) by myself for possibly the first time in my whole life. You just didn't do that back in SA! After a mind blowing trip to Disney World and the phenomenon of bottomless soda and sugar loaded breakfast I swore to myself that I would be back!

6 years past and I was done with High School and the world was my oyster. I responded to a newspaper article on a youth work/travel programme and in December 2004 I packed my life up in a suitcase, kissed my parents goodbye and headed to Maine, USA where I was about to freeze my butt off for 5 months being one of the only girl ski lift operators at Sunday River Ski Resort. Although I made amazing friends and had wonderful adventures, being trapped in Bethel,Maine was not my idea of the American dream. It was small and suffocating with no transportation to get the hell out of there!
Another factor was I had just come of "party" age (18) in South Africa and then I moved someplace where I would have to wait another 3 years to legally lay my hand on an ice cold beer or hang out in a bar. So after a few months the snow began to melt as did the number of international workers... my number was up and off I headed to England for a few years.

After living in UK for 3 and a half years the rain and my dull life finally got to me and it was time to give USA another shot! My options were slim so I applied to become an Au pair (a challenge taken on amongst many young South African girls) not knowing where in the continent I would end up or who I would be spending a year of my life living with. Although I had first wished to live on the west coast, a nice family (with just 1 kid!) from Westchester, New York scooped me up and I headed for White Plains. I finally felt like I was living the American dream. I was young (but old enough to drink), single and living in New York! Isn't that every girls dream?

And here I am... more then 2 years after my plane touched down at JFK airport. I'm married,(WAIT! when did that happen?.. a story for another day) I live in an apartment just a 30 minute train ride from Manhattan and when I go to the grocery store there are 20 different choices of butter.

This is my American dream... what is yours?

1 comment:

  1. Ha ha you are such a freek!!! 20 types of butter? Ha ha. Loving the blog! Much Love xxxx