I love that word … acclimating. We say climitising in Australia. Don’t we? Or maybe we just call it settling in, “Have you settled in yet? How’s the settling-in process going?” Either way we don’t have a fancy word like acclimating. (pronounced aclim-8-ing).
A few things have happened over recent weeks to make me think I am acclimating.
We’re planning our summer holidays. One of my bestest buddies is coming over for five weeks and I can’t wait. We’ve been busy planning trips to Yosemite, Vegas, hanging out in LA, trips to Malibu and spending the Fourth of July down in San Diego. (Lucky I have really good housesitters).
While we were talking about San Diego I mentioned that some friends of ours will be down there at the same time who we just love.
“Are they American?” she asked.
“Yes, but they’re good ones!” I replied. (All of my American friends–and readers–are the good ones!)
“Aha”, she was quick to say, “but you’ve been there nearly a year now, you’re used to it.”
At Chipotle we were catching up on the news of the day (while Mr H was away and my son was busy training our calories off at waterpolo) when one of my favourite spunks–Joshua Jackson–walks in. (This is our second encounter with Pacey from Dawson’s Creek). I was a bit excited to see that we’d both chosen the same fast-food chain in which to dine on that particular evening and that he was so normal that he’d choose to grab a bite at Chipotle. As you do.
I don’t usually take pics but as we were driving off my daughter snapped a couple of really bad pics of him for us to post to Instagram and Facebook.
One of my Aussie friends immediately wrote back that I’m so “acclimated” (said in my best American accent) because only a few months ago my daughter and I would’ve taken a selfie so we could snap him– up nice and close for us to see. (True story. I did that very thing when I spotted fellow Prime-Time Soapie boy Ben McKenzie from The OC last year. BTW: he’s about to star in upcoming new show Gotham).
Then last week as I sat in our last Parent Association meeting of the school year it felt nice and comfortable. I arrived, spoke to a few people and sat down to listen to the meeting, discussing College Admissions and how well the Class of 2014 had done this year. (Don’t you love it how they know before summer starts?)
There were wolf whistles in the audience, sighs, clapping and cheering and even a contrversial “key message” thrown in from one of the parents down the back (you know? the rhetorical question so in one fowl swoop a parent can share with the entire community how something bad happened to her and her daughter, ie the school effed up). Cue: mumble, mumble, whisper, whisper until everyone looks front at again focused on the rest of the presentation. Then more clapping and ra-ra-ing.
That’s right. I didn’t blink an eye with all the ra-ra-ing and clapping and commotion of the meeting. I actually caught myself and had a bit of a chuckle because I remember the first meeting scared the crap out of me.
My first time I was speechless. It literally felt like I was in the audience of Dr Phil, or Oprah or Ellen and I wondered if this is what it was like every meeting. Turns out they are.
It’s not so bad and it’s not so scary and it’s kinda fun. Yes, fun.
I so want to be American. I kind of like it. It definitely wouldn’t work at home. How nice would it be to let it out and not be worried about everyone thinking you’re loser for showing some enthusiasm? I kind of like that they do that … Now that I’m acclimated.
I’m not sure if I’ve shared with you before that I would live anywhere in the world except America. I didn’t want the kids going to school here and I would rather move somewhere where where we could immerse ourselves in another culture rather than a Western one (yet I’d be prepared to live in the UK). And of course here I am.
After the news sunk in though I started to wonder if a move to the US might give the kids amazing opportunities. The night we were to make our final decision (should I stay or should I go?) the kids were watching Pitch Perfect on TV. We were going to politely decline the offer and then I looked at the TV and thought about the opportunity America provides to be exactly who you are and to be recognised for who you are. I looked at Mr H and said, “Why don’t we give our kids the opportunity?” Flourish in the arts, be in a movie, open up connections. Do and be whatever and whoever they like.
The ra-ra scared me but I was secretly that person too. “Good for you, let’s do this, we can do this,” was always me.
(Ok, not so secretly. My friends were quick to say I’d fit in really well because that’s my nature: rally the troops, chief motivator and cheerleader.)
As Australians we need to stop knocking Americans. Why are so anti American? Is it because we’re jealous? Let’s ponder that a minute before you start throwing stuff at your monitor or device.
Do we want to be American? America? OK, forget loud and white runners with shorts and long white socks. Think land of opportunity, embracing Tall Poppies rather than cutting them down and generally encouraging everyone to be successful–and to hail them when they are. To be able to express ourselves (naturally–without the beers or wine).
Nine things I’ve learnt after living in LA for nine months
Then this week I found this article in LA Weekly and I started wondering if it’s really going to take me five years to be truly acclimated. Here I am thinking I’m well on my way to being acclimated. Will we even be here in five years???
Just in case we’re not, here are my nine things I’ve learnt after living in LA for nine months:
- It’s OK to talk to random strangers in the street or supermarket (or anywhere for that matter).
- You start to make restaurant bookings during the week–or the week before–and that booking is either at 6:00 or 9:00. (I think I’m pretty special when I get 8:30)
- You don’t go anywhere unless there’s Valet parking (or at a pinch guaranteed parking).
- You cannot survive without an Amazon Prime account.
- Don’t take the 405 North after 2:00 unless you want to hang out in traffic with the rest of LA. I’m pretty sure it’s the same for the 405 South but I can’t vouch for that as I’ve never sat in it. Don’t take the chance on a Friday afternoon though, then I know it’s busy.
- You don’t actually stop at four-way stop signs (when there’s no one there or you were there first). Unless you choose to stop for a long time then you let everyone go ahead of you. “After you, and you, I’m stopped now, why don’t you go…?”
- When someone offers to check for other sizes or colours they actually do it. And when they say there are none left, it’s probably true. You don’t have to ask someone else (or call back) to make sure.
- When someone says excuse me (because they will be in your way for a millisecond) they actually mean it, it’s not a back-handed comment: “Excuuuuse me.”
- No one will actually RSVP to your event or function. And if they do it will be the last minute. What happens if something better turns up then what? Oh we just won’t show up.
I think I’m doing pretty well after nine months. Maybe I’ll be able to add to this list after twelve months, or two years. Watch this space.
xx It Started in LA xx