A year! Today is not only the birthday of two very good friends, and of one of my godmother's adorable sons, but we also mark one year since I came here. I remember all too well the gut wrenching moment when I grabbed Sandra's arm at Heathrow and just started bawling desperately, and then how I had to quickly compose myself again to deal with the fact that my hand luggage was too fat and I had to leave more stuff behind and stop crying so I could focus. And then what with one thing and another I didn't actually have that much time before boarding, which was good, as it gave me less of a chance to mope.
You know that my first few months here were, well, pretty grim. And not just because of the constant getting ill. There is no way I would have got through it without you all - you know who you are - the Skyping, the letting me cry abundantly, the always being there, the care packages, the everything. And also the little things, the friendly comments on FB and on this blog, the random encouragement - it all helped. I missed everything and everyone so much, it was physically painful, and it got worse once Nick was back in England. So, thank you for pulling (or should that be pushing?) me through it.
Of course, everything started coming together eventually. Nice people at work became friends rather than just colleagues - and for that I am deeply, deeply grateful. My flat felt more and more like home. I finally got round to driving and improved my life 300% overnight. It stopped being snowy and 10 below zero all the time. Basically, I snapped out of it, I guess, and can now view the prospect of my second year here with great equanimity, indeed even pleasure, as things will be reassuringly familiar the second time round...
So, what have we learned this year, boys and girls?
Skype is one of the greatest inventions of the century. Fact.
I am capable of driving, even on motorways, and sometimes I even enjoy it.
I also possess a very embryonic sense of spatial awareness, though now that I own one I will never abandon my GPS.
Nope, still don't miss teaching.
I'd rather pay more taxes and not have to worry about the cost an ambulance, needing prescription medicines, or being ambushed by a massive pothole.
New Jersey ain't so bad. Cf. the farms, the shore, the endless amusement derived from the local riche.
But NYC is something else.
I can bake, some of the time.
I can also shovel snow.
There is so much stuff available to watch on the web, I barely register the lack of a TV. (ok, so the UK doesn't have Hulu, but then we don't have the iPlayer, so we're equal)
The subject of the multiculturality of this country, and the integration or otherwise of so many different nationalities and ethnicities, deserves a post of its own really. I'll just note here that one of the things I like best, and I think exemplifies this best, is the way that noone blinks twice when faced with an unusual, foreign, oddly spelled surname, but just takes their best guess at it - very refreshing.
It's very civilised to have all customer service numbers be 1800, and not be kept waiting for a zillion minutes, and have problems solved when you do speak to them.
It's less civilised to have it be barely possible to buy groceries without needing a car and/or a loan from the bank.
It's even less civilised to be charged to receive calls on your mobile.
NYC is one of the greatest cities ever (hm, have I mentioned this before?).
I think I passed the test.
When I applied for this job, I kept saying that one of the reasons I wanted to come here was to see if I could do it - if I could come out here, on my own, and go through with it. I admit that for the first few months I gave the impression of being anything but 'with it', and I probably was a little melodramatic.
But tonight, let me gloat: I'm here, and I'm happy.