I’ve now been in the US for over a year and I can no longer imagine being anywhere else. That happened quite suddenly. I went from being constantly homesick to finally feeling I belong here now.
America has become familiar. I never thought I’d get to a place where I felt at home anywhere except in Australia, but I feel like this is home.
It’s funny that this has happened as we make the move to Oklahoma City. There’s a few reasons we are leaving Texas, but it’s a move we know to be right. There’s a lot of really appealing things about Texas, but I don’t love it here. Being here has made me more homesick for Australia.
Dallas roads and traffic are a nightmare. I grew up in Sydney, Australia, and I learnt to drive in the city. When I moved to Brisbane I worked right in the city and lived close to work. I’m used to city driving and city life. I love the city. But Dallas city driving is a big no. We attempted it once and it was a nightmare of mammoth proportions. Dallas has these massive highways that loop over one another in this roller coaster looking thing. Dallas drivers are used to it and as they do not like to use their brakes, they charge full throttle around these loops in trucks, cutting in and out of the traffic, almost ramming you. We had never driven in the city and were lost and stuck on a highway we couldn’t get off. No one would let us merge or change lanes and as I was in charge of the GPS, I was yelling at my poor husband to cross fifty lanes of traffic to get off at the next exit. Jim had just about shut down and retreated into himself from the chaos. The more I directed him to change lanes the faster and more aggressive the other drivers around us became. They smelt blood and were in for the kill. That was our first and last Dallas city drive.
Neither Jim nor I are overly confident drivers. For me it’s more that I’m still reasonably new to driving on the other side of the road on the other side of the car. Jim hates chaos. Dallas traffic is chaotic. We can’t manage it. What this means is that we are cut off from all of the inner city stuff I thrive on. Dallas has some incredible restaurants and galleries which I can’t get to. We stick to the outskirts of Dallas.
Oklahoma City is a whole different story. It’s a city but it’s not huge like Dallas or Atlanta or Chicago. It’s pretty chilled and Jim grew up there. There’s been highway upgrades since he left, but he still knows where he is even if the roads are more complex now. We are going all in and are moving into a gorgeous city apartment. We will be surrounded by galleries and museums. We’ll be minutes from the Paseo Art District, downtown, the restaurants and stores. OKC really has a beautiful skyline, lots of parks and dams, and a vibrant city. A lot of money has been put into upgrading it.
I initially balked at moving to OKC when my husband first suggested it a year ago. No way, I said. I’m not moving to tornado alley. Not long after that I had to bunker down for our first tornado warning in NC. Then we moved here to outer Dallas and guess what? We are in tornado alley. We have had numerous tornado warnings and have had to move to a safer place occasionally, but so far the tornado hasn’t hit us here. That doesn’t mean that this area won’t get hit. It has before and there was a great deal of damage and destruction. But what it does mean is that this idea I had of living amongst daily deadly tornadoes is a figment of my imagination. Because OKC experiences a lot of tornadoes they have good warning systems and people know what to do in the event of a large tornado. I don’t ever want to experience one I must say, but I am learning what I can about them and my husband grew up with them.
Another thing I realised is that in Queensland we had so many tropical storms. Bad ones. Several times I thought we’d lose our roof if not our house. When I first moved to Brisbane the storms were relentless and wild. But I learnt how to manage them and stay as safe as possible. The same goes for bushfires when I lived in the Blue Mountains in NSW. We educate ourselves and try to stay prepared. But life must go on.
The title of this blog post is The Sounds of America, and while it may seem I am off track, this all fits in. I realised this morning that there are sounds that have become so familiar that they make up part of my life here. Here are a few of them, both good and bad.
- The sound of the coffee machine each morning
- The trucks and cars flying past our house and almost breaking the sound barrier
- Birds—such different sounds to Australian birds
- Amber alerts on my phone constantly for abducted children and storms—I hate this sound
- The American accent which is normal now
- My husband’s tender and gentle voice
- Feral cats fighting down by the lake at night
- Wild wind storms which seem constant
- The HVAC system which is a MUST in the US
- The dryer. We don’t have clothes lines in the US and if we do, I’m yet to see one or know someone who uses them
- The flushing of a toilet which is different to how it sounds in Australia
It’s funny how sounds become as familiar as sights and smells.
I love living in America now. I miss my friends and the beauty of Australia, but things finally feel familiar here. I think that will increase even more when I’m back in the city. Many of us dream of going off grid, or homesteading, or just shutting out the world. I’m the opposite. I’m an extrovert and I love city vibrancy. Maybe not the crime rate or traffic, but I’m a city girl through and through.