Reliving the early years
It was 1995, it was Silicon Valley and my mum didn’t drive. The location of our house at the time is one of those God knows your needs house. It was a four bedroom, 2400 square foot house, that had membership rights to a local cabana club, walking distance to a Lucky’s, the library, the light rail station, with Santa Teresa Elementary behind our back fence, and Bernal Intermediate just a 15 minute walk. Within weeks that summer we were members of the library, and would tote home bags of books (25 was the limit). We walked to the store, carting home bags of groceries.
There are things when you’re a child you’re unaware of if there is love and security from your parents. While I was not happy to be living in the USA, (*I had an incredibly difficult time adjusting and to this day work at accepting change and not getting emotionally wrought over it*) and while I could often hear my mum crying, I was secure in knowing that I was loved and safe and protected. It would be many years later that I would learn how much, or more appropriately how little my parents lived on that first year. Remember it was 1995 in Silicon Valley, prices were rising...
There have been times, many times, that I’ve struggled over this fact. There have been many angry words flung at God over this fact, and yet while this fact was true and I was none the wiser I never worried over it. I never felt the urge for more, was grateful for what we did have, what we did do. Our holidays were never extravagant, but they were full of love and laughter, and my parents worked hard saving throughout the year so we did have Christmas presents, birthday presents, and a vacation. And, despite my anger towards God that he would put my parents through that worry, that he didn’t provide for them financially I was often reminded by how much he did provide.
...Our house stayed at a low rent, it was ideally situated, we had beds, food, I went to Valley my first year for free due to my dad coaching soccer at the high school.
When we moved my parents told me that I had a choice, I needed to give it one year and if I still didn’t want to live in the USA I could move back. Looking back I don’t believe there was any weight to that statement, yet at the time it gave me the reassurance I needed that there was an out. After the year I still wasn’t at "home." (Although I never did think to ask to move back to England, family is after all family). It had been a struggle and hated so much of my life in California. I struggled with being asked to say words over and over again like a trained parrot (water, garage, vase to name a few), and by the time I started out my journey at Valley I had learnt to not say much, and gained the reputation for being that quiet girl from England. I was never quiet in England. I was the instigator, the leader of the pack, I was the bossy one. I lost that part of me when we moved, it’s there still but it was curbed when we moved.
I struggled with change, such a dramatic move left residue effects. Change became something I avoided and dreaded. I even had a time just rearranging my room, the change of the bed position would cause me nights of sleepless nights as I adjusted. Purging many of our belongings made stronger my desire to hold on to things. Our first few months living in California we were without the majority of our personal belongings as they were making their way on the boat. We would raid the church office for paper and I would draw pictures and tape them on the walls just for a sense of familiarity. I struggled with attending two churches (my dad worked part time for two churches the first year we were here). We ping ponged between the two churches, some Sundays at both churches. I learnt early on to pack a book in my bag because we would be there all morning, set up to tear down. My parents had always given their all to serving, and now in America it was no exception. I struggled hearing my mum cry most days. I struggled with wondering why God would send us here, and have many pages with the word “why” scrawled on them. I struggled with knowing who I was, a normal phase for a 12 year old, yet heightened by the newness and strangeness that surrounded me. As years passed I still thought of myself as English, but in returning “home” would find England was just as much as a stranger to me as California had been, yet I didn’t view California as home.
Until recent years I struggled with singing Christmas Carols, Christmas Carols? Yes! Back to the church ping pong, our first Christmas we attended two separate Christmas Eve services at the two churches my dad worked for. I had never attended something like the Christmas Eve services of the church of the 90s. Church in England was not a performance, and nothing screamed performance more than Christmas services. As a battling preadolescent the magic and mystery of the Christmas carols was tainted. True to the darker side of my nature I held on that to perspective for years and grew to resent the singing of Christmas carols.
I struggled with Christian-ese. I remember one instance of being in the Junior Varsity group for AWANA and we played a game where you had to guess/say the next lyrics of the Christian songs that were playing. I didn’t know ANY of them. I felt so out of place, so far from who I thought I was, from what I thought Christianity was. From that moment on I consumed Christian music like I consumed chocolate - fast and furious. I felt to fit in the Christian circle, I needed to know the right Christian music, the right Christian slogans, etc.
It wasn’t all a struggle. I did make friends. Over time I did move on and California did become my home.
To Be Continued...