For, Like, Ever

Today my parents arrived in the United States. This in itself wouldn't be anything out of the ordinary if it weren't for the addendum I'm going to add on to that sentence: for good. Today my parents arrived in the United States for good. 

I can count on one hand the number of years I've lived in the same country as my parents since I turned eleven and left for boarding school. That number is three: once when we all lived in England during 1994 and 1995---although as a weekly boarder, I actually only came home from school on the weekends---and once from 1998 through 1999, when I took a gap year between school and university and lived at home in Connecticut. There was, of course, also that period at the end of 2006 when Sean and I returned to Singapore from our epic travels in Asia and stayed in my parents' shed in the back garden while we ate all their cheese and watched their cable TV. But I think we can all agree that that barely even counts.

I've just become used to living a long way from my parents, I guess. I've become used to not being able to call them at 10am because it'd be the middle of the night for them. I've become used to taking several jetlag-inducing flights across a large body of water just to see them for any substantial amount of time. I've become used to our visits being few and far between, our reunions emotional, our goodbyes even more so. I've been doing it so long---for eighteen years, in fact---that I've got the process of dealing with homesickness down to a fine art.

And now, like a beautiful, curious gift, I don't have to do it anymore.

Beginning today, my parents are residents of San Diego County, California, a brief hour-long flight from me in San Francisco. They have a house, and a yard, and a container ship full of their furniture working its way towards them, and tomorrow my mother is going to seal the deal in perhaps the most significant way of all: she's going to buy an iPhone. Yep, folks, when you're locked in to that two-year contract with AT&T, there's no changing your mind about where you want to live. That's it now: they've got to stay in America.

My parents moved to Singapore in 2001, eight years ago now, and for the last eight years, this has been a part of the way I identified myself: as a person whose parents lived overseas. It's been a little confusing to people at times---"But you're from England? And you live here in the States? And your parents live.....where? But are they English too? Hang on a second, my head is about to explode"---but it's just the way I've always known things. It's a part of who I am, of how I've turned out to be. Before my parents lived in Singapore, they lived in Connecticut---and I lived in England. Before they lived in Connecticut, they lived in Hong Kong---and I still lived in England. So pretty much for the last eighteen years, I've been having to explain why my parents and I don't live in the same country. And then having to add that no, they didn't banish me, I didn't get deported, it's just the way my life turned out. As a family, we're actually terrifically close. We're just not terrifically.......close.

Except now, of course, we are---or at least now I am. Sure, it's still a good 500 miles from San Diego to San Francisco, and I bet I still live a lot further from my parents than many, many people reading this do to theirs. But the fact that I could, if I needed to, get in my car and drive to see them---the fact that I don't have to change my currency or adjust my internal clock or take a ridiculous amount of time off work to do it---is such an incredible novelty that you just wouldn't believe it. Because they're here---they're finally, finally here---and, better than that, they're staying. Yesterday, while she waiting for the plane to take off from Singapore, my mother sent me a text message. And so the great adventure begins!, she wrote. And so it does.

Camels & Chocolate
Apr 27, 2009

Yay, Alison and Patrick! That's so exciting! Can't wait to finally meet them this summer!

Apr 28, 2009

Here's to family,
And to times bright and new,
A beautiful novelty,
That life's brought back to you.:-)

Apr 28, 2009

Yay! My parents live in the States, and I live in England with my husband. I REALLY miss my mom and my sister, and I hate the fact that I can't just pick up the phone and call them whenever I want. I'm really hoping we'll all get to live in the same state sometime soon. Congrats on getting your family back!

Apr 28, 2009

Ha! I can so relate to people's heads verging on explosion when I tell them about my family's current whereabouts. See, there's four of us. I live together with my mom in Ireland. My dad lives alone in Romania (although he is still very much together with my mom and they both spend copious amount pining after each other). And my sister lives in Germany. We're Romanian. And people always take me for American because of my accent. Such is the life...

Apr 28, 2009

It's great isn't it? Not having to do mental arithmetic every time you want to call your parents because it might the middle of the night for them. Not having to get on a plane to go home for Christmas.

When I was 14 we moved from London to Northern California, and 3 years after that I moved to Rhode Island for College and after that, New York and a few years later back to London. My parents stayed in California. Until last year I hadn't lived in the same time zone as them since I was 17. Now they're an hours drive away and I can do things like take my father to a concert or invite them to lunch and it's great. Absolutely fantastic in fact. So I'm really pleased for you Holly, because, having your parents within reach is so lovely.

Apr 28, 2009

So exciting! You're jam-packing all the life-altering events into one year, aren't you?

Anne in SC
Apr 28, 2009

That is so exciting! I have always lived in the same town as my parents (except for college). And then, a few years ago they up and moved. And then a year or two later, they moved even further away. I didn't go visit them even though it was only a 6 hour car drive 'cause the children had crazy schedules. Anyway, they moved back a little over a year ago. You get to do things like call them up and invite yourself to dinner. Or in your case invite yourself "down for the weekend". You're going to love it - ooh, wonder if it's going to feel like they're cramping your style being so close - ha!

Apr 28, 2009

How your family doesn't have its own reality show, I'll never know. Because in this case it wouldn't be as frustrating and annoyingly stupid as reality television always is but it would be truly real and wonderful and exciting through and through. Heh.

Can you tell that I'm supremely jealous of the international character of your family? For the record, I AM.
But I also have to say that I teared up reading this entry because in the end nothing's better than feeling like family's finally coming home. :)

PS - What continent are your siblings on these days? Are they all still in Singapore? I've completely lost track.

Apr 28, 2009

my parents and siblings live in europe and i miss them terribly sometimes. it's lovely that you'll be able to spend weekends together from time to time...

She Likes Purple
Apr 28, 2009

I am so thrilled for you! I've been reading long enough (or have read enough) to know that this must make you really very happy. Enjoy having them so close (in the same timezone even!). How about your siblings? Are any of them joining your parents here?

Apr 28, 2009


Congrats! My mom lives about an hour's plane ride away, too - but due to the vagaries of life, we hardly ever get to see each other.

She called to tell me she might be postponing her planned trip up to see me this week, and it made me cry. I'm getting soft in my old age.

Glad to know your folks are close again, enjoy your time with them!


Apr 28, 2009

This is so exciting, Holly! I would love it if my parents lived only 500 miles away!

sensibly Sassy
Apr 28, 2009

oh that is great! I can't wait to hear all about their transition here... for good!

Rachael W
Apr 28, 2009

Congratulations on your family moving to San Diego! (I must admit, although SD probably doesn't compare to Singapore, it is definitely a step up from Connecticut, which is where my brother lives now. No offense to the denizens of Connecticut.) It must be very exciting to finally live so close to them. I've always enjoyed your posts about your family. Hopefully now we will get to read more of them...perhaps with more pictures of your dad in a top hat.

Apr 28, 2009

That's wonderful! I'm so happy for you!

I went to boarding school at 15 and aside from one year after college, haven't lived closer than three hours from my parents. Now we're in different countries, but we don't need to pass over a body of water to visit. We're hoping to return to the Midwest and I look forward to having them nearby again.

Apr 28, 2009

That's so nice! Growing up, I always lived far from my dad and now I can WALK to his house. I usually see him about once a month but just knowing he is right there is such a comforting, warm feeling.


Apr 28, 2009

Yay! That's so wonderful. It's hard for me to relate, as my parents live a mere 20-or-so minutes from my house (dad to the north, mom to the west) and I barely see them. But when I lived in San Francisco, I missed them very much.

If you guys ever need any Los Angeles eating/drinking/being merry recommendations when visiting your parents, lemme know!

Apr 28, 2009

I would give anything to have 500 miles between me and my mom!

Apr 28, 2009

Yep, been there, done that. Born in England, moved to Texas (with parents), then to CA (with parents). Then they moved back to England, my brother stayed in CA, and we moved to MI. It sucks sometimes, to be so far apart from everyone. Enjoy the closeness!

Apr 28, 2009

Hooray! This makes me ridiculously happy for you!

Apr 28, 2009

That is awesome for you Holly! My parents have always been close (3 hour drive) so I cannot imagine what it would be like to have to fly for hours just to see them.

What about Susie and Luke? Are they here as well or still back home in England?

Apr 28, 2009

aw yay! that is SO very exciting. family close by is a wonderful thing.

Apr 28, 2009

This made me tear up a bit because I've been away from my family for 17 years! I'm so happy you finally have yours close by.

Apr 28, 2009

I think this is very very cool. I've loved reading about how close your family is...and I think your description of it as a gift is perfect!

As for me, my parents are halfway across the country - too far - and I'm about to move to Italy. I'm you in reverse and will have to figure out how to cope.

Apr 28, 2009

Holly, this is so exciting! I am so happy for you!

I lived just about 3000 miles away from my family for about 10 years. And then finally I had an itch to move back home and it is great to have family close. And for you, 500 miles IS close!

Scottsdale Girl
Apr 28, 2009

YAY! Now get your mother to tend to all those pesky wedding things. STAT!

Apr 28, 2009

Ok, maybe this just struck a chord with me because my parents, too, live far away, but that was beautiful. The last paragraph literally brought tears to my eyes! Sooo happy for you.

Apr 28, 2009

Yay! What a great thing. So what does this mean for your siblings? What can we do to get them to follow suit?

Apr 28, 2009

Thanks, everyone! Yep, it's pretty exciting. To answer the questions about my siblings, Brother Tom continues to live and work in Singapore (he's got his own place -- well, a place with roommates -- and his job out there, so he's staying put for now), Luke is at university in England but will come home to San Diego for vacations, and Susie will be in San Diego this spring/summer until she starts HER first year at university in Scotland this fall. So for June, July, August, and September, FIVE OUT OF SIX MEMBERS OF MY FAMILY WILL BE IN THE SAME COUNTRY. It's definitely a record.

Apr 28, 2009

Well, I would welcome them to our fair city, then. I think they chose well, but I could be a little biased about my hometown. ;)

How wonderful that they are now so much closer to you. Congrats!

Apr 29, 2009

yay!!!! so happy for you and your parents!!!

Apr 29, 2009

What happened to Wisconsin as a possible landing spot?

Nothing But Bonfires
Apr 29, 2009

Wisconsin was never a possible landing spot. Michigan was, but that was quite a while ago.

Apr 29, 2009

How exciting! Im a wee bit family is spread all over too. I live in Japan. My brother teaches English in China and my other brother is a Nuke in the Navy (so, he's everywhere and nowhere). Whenever someone complains to my parents about how far away they live from their kids, my parents usually respond with; "hey- we'd settle for just having our kids on the same continent!"

Apr 29, 2009

This is really exciting, and surely awesome timing with your upcoming wedding!

Apr 30, 2009

I'm trying really hard to not make this about me, but I can't help but think "That's only an hour and a half away from me!Maybe Holly and Shizawn will visit me while visiting their parents!" I'm an asshole.

Nothing But Bonfires
May 01, 2009

Y, of course we'd LOVE to visit you! Let's tawk.

May 01, 2009

Oh, how jealous I am. Nineteen years ago, just after I left for college, my parents left Texas and moved to Australia. Although Oz has remained home base, they have roamed the world for my dad's work, from England to Venezuela; from Crete to Vietnam; from Cambodia to Bahrain and now India. During that time, I graduated from two schools, gained a wife, lost a sister, and had a baby girl. Too many of those moments were experienced by phone or webcam. My dad has three more years until retirement, and I can't wait until the memories of my parents are no longer punctuated by tears as one of us walks through the heavy doors at the airport.

I only hope that when that day finally arrives, I am able to make a film as wonderful as the one you did for your dad on his last day.


Heather M.
May 03, 2009

Simply fantastic...enjoy the times to come. Michigan will always be her if/when you and your family decides to visit. I highly recommend the U.P. Detroit is nice don't get me wrong but northern Michigan is so peaceful.