So you’ve decided to become a two-continent family! Welcome to the club, friends. And since Mark and I have been doing this drill for a year and change now, let me share some tips with you about living in Europe and North America.
First, be ready to enjoy what the local culture has to offer. You’ve chosen Canada as your home in the New World, and it’s a lovely country. You will need to learn to love the local cuisine, though, which for us has meant delicious tapas and paella. As for you – well, I hope you like poutine. And Tim Horton’s has very good doughnuts. You’ll also need to get up to speed on local sports, so you might start learning the rules of hockey, to the extent there are any. We have come to enjoy fútbol, although the rules still make no sense to me. There are yellow flags and red cards, and players get called offsides when the referee is annoyed. That’s about what I’ve learned thus far.
Second, you’ll have to learn the local language. Theoretically, Canada and England both speak English, although I’ve got to admit that with some Brits I really don’t understand much of what they say. I wish people came with subtitles. My tip is just to smile and nod and hope that the other person is not telling you about their cancer diagnosis. If they look worried, dispense with the smiling and instead murmur noncommittally. You can get a lot of mileage out of “Huh” or “Oh, my” in these situations. If you head to Quebec, you’ll need to learn some French; Harry, you have ancestors from Normandy, so this might come naturally to you. And of course for all of Canada, as far as I can tell, it’s important to be able to throw in the occasional “Eh?” at the end of a sentence. If you want to practice outside of the country until you get the hang of it, go to Maine. They say that there, too.
Third, and finally, don’t worry too much about shipping lots of stuff. Credit cards work all over the world. If you have something you really love, like a favorite bathrobe or paring knife, just get one for each continent. It’s way easier than trying to remember where you left it. And if you end up with three identical vegetable streamers and four pairs of tweezers in one country and zero in the other, don’t worry. Just make a little pile of things to cart across the Atlantic next time you go. Surely it enlivens the otherwise dull day of an airport security worker to speculate on why you have a vegetable steamer packed in with your ermine robe or Order of the Garter. And remember, when friends come to visit, they can bring you things. Lovely folks have brought us multivitamins and a good solid American vegetable brush. It’s the little things that count.
So enjoy your new life, and let us know if you need further counsel on the bi-continental thing. Oh, and one last reminder – in Canada, they’re diapers, and not nappies.