The way I see it, there’s three kinds of dreams. Type 1: the dream that comes true. Type 2: the dream that doesn’t come true. And then there’s the third kind…
For me, living in America was a dream. It was my big dream, the dream that I had held for several years and that, at times, seemed completely out of reach. I thought a trip to Tennessee might satisfy the longing, but it only made it worse. I mean, who doesn’t spend a few weeks riding the trails, tasting Southern food and meeting truly charming Southern people and not want to live there forever?! My taste of Southern life just left me wanting more and more and more.
So twenty months ago, when I saw a job advert for teachers for USA, I had to go for it. I had to apply, because if I didn’t, what kind of person would I be? The kind who just keeps dreams as dreams and never actually lives them out? No thank you, not for me. Just like that, I applied. And then, six months later, I was standing in a long (read: very, very, ridiculously, excruciatingly long) line outside the US Embassy in London to get my visa approved. After that, my flight was booked and I was scouring the internet for apartments in North Carolina.
Arriving in August was surreal, to say the least. My goodbyes had been harder than I expected, and the journey seemed quicker than I thought it would be. I arrived in the dead of night and that first week, full as it was with inductions to the US school system and bank account applications and apartment hunting, left me feeling blissfully overwhelmed. I took a practice driving test and passed with flying colors – yeah, I couldn’t believe it either, but after ten months of sharing the road with American drivers, I’m no longer surprised! 😉 I hit the ground running, and it’s been a tiring marathon ever since.
I’ve accomplished so much since I have been here, and the roads that once seemed so scary I now trod with familiar footsteps. I’ve mastered the art of paying at the pump (don’t pull that card out too slow, don’t pull it out too fast: believe me when I say timing skills are vital in this endeavour), I no longer need to check the conversion table for temperature before I cook, I have found the perfect balance of A/C versus open windows, and I no longer get asked how long I’m staying for. But as of today, I have just just over a month left in North Carolina.
I started this post talking about dreams. Some dreams are Type 1: they come true. It’s hard to write this, but my American dream is not of this type. My dream hasn’t really come true. I have not found my cowboy, my open ranch, the white picket fence lifestyle that I dreamed of for so long. Maybe it was a naive dream anyway. Some will wonder why I’m heading home after just one year, some might think I should have stayed, some might even think I failed. But I don’t feel like a failure.
Because my dream is not Type 2 either. It isn’t a dream that has not come true. Yes, I haven’t met my cowboy 😉 or fallen so in love with this place that I want to stay forever and ever, but I have become rather fond of North Carolina. True, I have had experiences here that I wished I hadn’t, and moments where I simply wanted to go back to Britain, but that doesn’t mean I would change my coming here at all. My dream is of the third kind: the dream that changes.
I dreamed of an American life, and while that exact one didn’t quite become a reality, another one did. The original dream morphed into something else. Yes, I have not become a cowgirl, but I have become a stronger person. Or rather, I have proved to myself that I am already strong. I have done it. I have moved across the ocean and navigated all the turbulence of working, living and thriving in a whole new place. I have discovered things about myself I might not have done if I had stayed in one place. I have found new talents, made new memories, gained new friends. And while I haven’t fallen head over heels in love with the place that made that new person, I am pretty taken with the new person it made 🙂
Simply put, I did it. The dream of being a brave traveller and a bolder version of myself has come true. And really, when all is said and done, I’ll take that. There’s worse things than a changed dream.