Friday, May 9, 2008

The land of the free....

.... and the home of people i miss. Yes, i speak of the United States of America. Or, more specifically, of Summit, NJ. 07901. See, yesterday i received an email from my old host mum, completely out of the blue, and it really was a lovely suprise. I know i've been home for almost two and half years and still i find myself randomly missing my boys. And my surrogate dog, Miles. And my converted attic bedroom. You get the picture. The family i lived with, and worked for, the Mullers, just treated me so well that i really did get attached to them as a second family. I wasnt just the nanny, the au pair, the babysitter - i was like an older sister, or maybe a young aunt, somebody simultaneously authorative and responsible, yet fun and cool and a loved part of the family. I really did feel that way. And i really did love the boys - i know a lot of girls ( and guys, i suppose ) who work as nannies say they get attached to their charges, or conversely that they couldnt stand the little brats, but my boys were honestly fantastic. Sure, there were times that i wanted to wring their little necks, to cry and yell and throw a tantrum right back at them, but those times were few and far between. Most of the time it was just hanging out with some great kids.

But its not just the family i miss. I miss the place too - i lived a half an hours train ride from New York City and you would not believe how much i miss being able to just buy a ticket, take the trip, and instantly have something to do. Its really true that NYC is the city that never sleeps - i'm pretty sure you could find something to do, and someone to do it with, at any given moment of the day or night. Also, I miss the friends i made, only one of whom is still over there. Flavia was a Brazilian girl who originally worked as a nanny, did her year, went back to her home country and one of her charges missed her so much that he had to call her in Brazil every night before he went to bed. The host family asked her to come back as a combined nanny/university student and she accepted. Flavia was great . She helped show me the ropes, little insider tips, the best place to go for dinner with the other girls, and always invited me to parties at her boyfriends house ( insider tip for all of you - DO NOT drink home made Russian vodka that is being served to you by the Russians who homemade it. You WILL throw up.A LOT. ) As much as i love the very few friends i have here sometimes i just wish i could be back in Flavia and Tomas's tiny living room, eating Brazilian party food and hanging with the all the other non-Americans we knew.

But you know what i sometimes miss? Sometimes most of all ? Who i was over there. Or maybe who is not the right word - maybe i mean how i was. I was a different kind of me. Going to the US was the first major thing i had done post-depression. I had literally only been out of counselling and off medication for a few short months, so shipping myself off to another country, to a place where i knew not a soul, to start a job i had never really done before - well, it was really forcing myself to either sink or swim. And i think i swum. Awkwardly at first i suppose - it was more like a drunken dog paddle, like i was in there, i was making the effort, but it was hard. By the end of my stay however it was more like Olympic butterfly - still not overly easy, but i was in there making waves and loving every minute of it. I was the au pair all the new foreign girls came to. My area mentor, the women who looked after the welfare of all the girls would ring me and say " Amy, Olga/Celine/Kwame has just arrived from Russia/France/South Africa - why dont you give them a call and take them out for coffee ? " or " Amy, Ling/Rosita/Haley has just arrived from China/Mexico/England and i told them to give you a call. You're always so good for the new girls ". I loved that - i loved that i had turned from wallflower to the go-to-girl. I was proud. I want to be that again. I want to be that version of me again.

The Olympic butterflying go-to-girl. She was good.

I'm just thinking i might have to start out back at drunken dog paddle first....

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