Sunday, May 20, 2012

the year of americaness

May 20 marks 1 year in the land of the free and the home of the brave.
It is a significant day in our world.  We gained many things, and we lost some precious things too. 

we may be in America, but we take NZ with us
what we gained
{education}  Jason's remaining university courses will be paid for by his employer.  This opporutnity would not be afforded to us in New Zealand. I am starting my Master's degree in Educational Administration next Monday.  My dream has always been that of becoming a principal.  While in New Zealand I was always so anxious to start the program.  That dream is now a reality.  My principal dream has been at the forefront of my thoughts since I was 18. 

{green chiles}  virtually every meal we have requires green chile.  I missed them so in New Zealand.  It is like a taste of Arizona on a daily basis.

{the american dream}  We have all heard talk of the American Dream.  Well folks, it is true.  I know this because  I am living it right now.  We sacrifced everything to come here.  I mean everything.  We sold all of our posessions and said goodbye to a steady temporal set-up in Auckland.  Once we got here we literally started over.  While my employment was secure, Jason's was not.  We spent many days trying to find reputable employment for him.  It was not glorious at first.  We struggled and at the time, could only seem to think of how our situation in New Zealand was totally fine.  There was a tiny bit of doubt, but we got through it.  The goals and dreams that Jason and I have always had for our future and family seem to be slowly coming to pass with each new day that we are here.  I can only say that Heavenly Father guided our decision to move here and placed in our path opportunities to build a temporal and spiritual foundation.  I feel that I am much more confident, prepared, and ready for the road ahead of us.  A year ago I would not have said that.   The other part of the American Dream notion is that it is made by the efforts of yourself.  There is no silver platter. 

{small town}  We went from living to a bustling city of 1 million on the shores of a turquoise Pacific Ocean, to a town of 8,000 that boasts a Wal-Mart and 2 stop lights.  That wasn't really fair.  This little gem on a plateau has something very special to it.  It is place where I feel welcomed, befriended, and loved.  This same gem has welcomed Jason with open arms, even if he is from an amazingly cool hemisphere.  I know that it is very easy to see this place only on its seemingly rough surface.  I have chosen to look beyond it.  I see a place that is a melting pot for groups of people that, despite differences, build a community.  You cannot find small town American life anywhere else.  I don't quite know how to put my thumb on it.  I guess it is measuring quality of life not by the number of Starbucks Cafes and Home Depots, but rather measuring quality of life on the number of spectacular sunsets you have witnessed and the trust that you can leave your keys in the ignition of your car at night.  To me, that is peace of mind and quality of life.

{heating and cooling bill}  Actually, we gained the four seasons.  We saw snow this year and celebrated a winter Christmas.  We also saw 100+ heat.  You don't see that in Aotearoa.

what we lost
[the ocean] Oh how our hearts ache for the ocean.  Jason has never known a life without it.  I learned to love a life with it.  Auckland is a premire ocean loving city.  You are never more than several miles from a beach while living in this stunning city.  The ocean was the center of our lives while we were there.  Need a cheap date idea?  Need to talk out a difficult problem?  Need a good workout? Need to talk to Heavenly Father?  Need a reason to not be homesick for Arizona?  THE OCEAN will answer all of these questions. 

[Auckland] Do you know what it means to live in a world class city that boasts a skyline, cultural diversity, mild weather, life conveniences, and an ocean front?  This is an experience that has heightened my appreciation for what big cities have to offer.  This great city fostered a love of Polynesian and Asian cultures in me.  I had no previous experinces with these 2 cultures until I called Auckland home.  I am proud to say that I lived in one of the most sought after cities and can still call it my hometown in one way or another.  Being young, in love, childless, and mostly carefree was a ticket to explore Auckland up and down.  We trekked all over this wonderful city to capture the best parts about it.  Concerts, cuisine, running events, museums, tours, cultural festivals, public transit, and the beach (always) were some of the elements that I am greatly missing from my life right now.  We really love you Auckland.  Jason's hometown rocks.

[The Port] Do you remember my port obsession?  I wrote about the port many times during my New Zealand escapades.  I was fascinated with it from the first day I saw it.  Weeks before we left Auckland my dream came true.  We got to take a port tour.  I was in complete awe. 
[whanau]  As most married people can relate, we are always apart from one family.  We will never have both sets of parents in the same country as us.  It is a challenge that we face as a dual nation married couple.  We deeply miss Jason's family.  He comes from such a close knit family.  It was hard to even announce that we were leaving.  We miss the hangis, Sunday dinners, family home evenings, beach outings, heated board games, and the loud conversations.  It seriously breaks my heart that Jason is away from his 5 brothers and 2 sisters.  He is the big brother in the family.  We hope we can visit soon.

[understanding]  We had a group of young married couple friends that related to our situation.  Our closest friends were also dual nation couples.  Australia, New Zealand, America, Canada, Samoa, Tonga, and England were just a few of the places where these dual nation couples came from.  The point is that we all understood each other in a way that our families and other friends did not.  We kept each other close because it was our life line on days that were frustrating.   I don't know anyone within  300 square miles of me that is married to someone from another country.  It is just not common in America. 

in summation
We have gained some things and lost some things by starting over in America.  I feel incredibly lucky to be the companion and wife to a man who is so effortlessly a kind, loving, and hard working husband.  It boggles my mind that I found him.  Heaven knows we fight and that we have differences.  However, we are yoked for the long haul and have proven to each other that we would make any sacrifice for the good of our eternal marriage.  I am a better person because of New Zealand.  This grand place produced the kiwi that I fell for.  My heart is always tied to it.  It is my hope that we can someday bring our children to New Zealand and let them experience what it means to be a kiwi.  I want us to always be connected to Aotearoa.  For now, we are living the American Dream and helping Jason develop American pride*.

*American pride continues to remain an unexplained mystery for Jason.  He hasn't latched on to the flag sporting, tear producing, heart holding behaviors of prideful Americans.  He married a prideful American, so I imagine he will convert at some point in life. 

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