Here’s how my bio now begins:
Bronwen Fleetwood was born in South Africa, raised in New Jersey, and is now returning to South Africa, making her some kind of doubling-back expat. A #rexpat? Something like that.
Everything’s finalizing now–the move is official. It’s happening. I’m leaving the country where I grew up for the country I was born in.
I’m just a little bit terrified.
Here’s the background story.
My family settled in South Africa from various countries in Europe in the 1800s. (We’re not Dutch/Afrikaans.) My parents are both from Cape Town. A year after they had me, my dad joined a consulting firm that sent him halfway around the world to work. They were only supposed to stay in New Jersey for about 18 months.
Twenty-nine and a half years later…
I have no memories of my first year as an infant in South Africa (durr). New Jersey has been my home for the bulk of my life. I even attended the same school system from kindergarten through senior year. After that one massive move, we pretty much stayed put. I live only half an hour from the home my parents bought when I was ten.
But something in me has never been satisfied with the idea of never going anywhere. It just sits wrong. The fact that, certainly until the last century or two, the majority of humanity lived, loved, and died within a few miles of where they were born makes my hair stand on end.
Maybe I have my great-great-great grandmother to thank. She left England at the age of 18 (a lot of 18s in this story, did you notice?) to be a missionary in Africa. Now that is a Big, Scary Move. She was a pretty tremendous woman, and spent time in several African territories before the family settled in South Africa. One of the things I want to accomplish via this move is to get to know more family stories better.
So, when envisioning my future, I’ve always felt I would go somewhere. I’ve sent out job applications to all sorts of places in the US, always figuring that if the offer is right, a move is by no means a bad thing.
Why am I going now? Because my parents are retiring to Cape Town. The town where I grew up is expensive, and finding work is hard. Thanks to the exchange rate, they can do what a lot of US expats do and live well on what would be a pittance in this country. When my parents told me they were going, they asked if I wanted to come with them.
This was an incredibly hard decision to mull over, but I think I’ve made the right choice, for me. There are times when opportunity knocks and you have to seize it. There is another world, another life, that I’ve never known and always wanted to. I have family that I’ve barely met. In February I’ll be at my cousin’s wedding. Hell, I’ve never really known what it is to have lots of family around, period. (Those of you surrounded by family are trying to tell me not to go through that door, I know. Sorry!)
So, what can you expect from this blog in the coming months?
First off, The Move itself. Today I made some checklists for all the many things that have to be done. I’ll be documenting a lot of it. Especially fun (read: taxing) will be the 20 hours in the air between New York and Cape Town.
Then, you’ll get to watch and make fun of my profound culture shock as I no doubt question all my life decisions. I plan to take lots of photos, and write up all those little things that one never thinks about until you’re there. There will, at some point, be penguins. I promise you penguins. It’s gonna be a good time.
I’ll still be very much engaged in my writing, have no doubt of that.
Gundam Wing updates will have to slow down until I get my PC set up in the new house, which could take a few months. Maybe I’ll have a Christmas Day Marathon. I’d hope for Thanksgiving but I’ll be the only one sadly making pumpkin pies in the middle of spring.
So that’s the State of the Blog, folks. I’m going to be a returning expat, but I’ll feel like an actual expat and it’s all going to be very strange. Call me the #rexpat. Cheers.