Turns out Rent was right. There are 525,600 minutes in a year. I always thought it was too small a number, but I just did the calculation (I was going to use the right one) but 60 x 24 x 365 = 525,600.
Anyway, I’m going off topic before I’ve even started. Today is April 18th 2009. Today marks an important day in history, for me, for my family, for Kelly and her family, and a handful of others. On this day one year ago I stepped onto Qantas flight QF2714 and flew from Wellington to Auckland, waving goodbye to my family and friends at Wellington Airport. In Auckland I walked from the domestic to the international terminal, and boarded flight QF25 bound for LAX. I haven’t seen New Zealand with my own eyes since.
I remember that all three flights that day were late. The first one was late because of mechanical problems earlier in the day that had caused delays and they were trying to get back on schedule. The second was a fault that had apparently been fixed but they were still waiting on a problem with paperwork for it. The third we had to wait at the gate at LAX for mechanics to get to us after their list of other faults to fix.
I remember walking through customs at LAX having filled out my little I-94 card, and being unsure what to write for “Country of Residence.” The customs lady walking the line checking things before we reached the officers processing us was angry at me that I didn’t know, but I truly didn’t. At that moment I didn’t live anywhere. On April 17th I resided in New Zealand. As of April 19th I would be residing in the United States. April 18th? I was homeless, as it were.
Despite all the mechanical problems and delays, I arrived in one piece at Dulles, although I was about 45 minutes late as I recall, landing at 12:30am on the 19th, walking into the arms of Kelly (followed by everyone else that was there).
People keep asking me if I miss home, and to a degree I do. It’s not so much home though, as aspects of home. I miss walking to the end of the street and getting Fish and Chips for a snack because I was bored and hungry. I miss driving to McDonalds and getting a large coke and a large chocolate thick shake for the same reason. I miss catching the bus and train to work and back every day. I miss Sunday night drives to the beach or around the bays, or somewhere else random that we wanted to go, with Sue and Amber. I miss having a cell phone, and understanding how the billing for cell and landline phones worked (I still think it’s really messed up that you have to pay to receive calls/messages etc..).
I miss driving to Paraparaumu via Paekakariki Hill one way and SH1/SH2 back for the fun of it. I miss knowing where everything in the supermarket is, and what most things are even if I haven’t had them before.
I miss the surprise of seeing Dad’s face in the window when my train pulls in to take me to work, I miss the sound of my brothers mock screams when I play a trick on him, and I miss the sound of my mother trying in vain to make me stop when she finds out what I did/was doing.
I miss having the opportunity to drive almost anywhere if I had time or money to pay for gas (and for whatever I wanted to do when I got there), ranging anywhere from watching a movie to eating dinner to going to Parachute. I miss having the contacts to do sound and lighting gigs with semi-professional companies and organizations when they needed the help.
Most of all I think I miss seeing people I know and love that I haven’t seen for a year or more, it’s nice seeing the young kids grow up through photos on Facebook etc, but it really isn’t the same.
So, what have I accomplished in my year of USA-ness? Not a lot, I fear to say. Having arrived in April 08, I was married in May 08, and filed immigration paperwork before the cut off date in July 08. In February 09 I received my Employment Authorization Card, and started applying for jobs. Of all my applications (around 30-50) I’ve had one solid lead (Summer Camp Counselor), and one official rejection (“Position has been filled”). The biggest problems I run into are experience (or lack thereof), lack of College education, and lack of US Citizenship or security clearances. I have no problem relocating 2 hours away (or commuting that far until relocation can occur), since there are practically no IT jobs in this area at the moment.
I have a drivers license (Learners permit, will sit the full test some time soon). I have fixed several computers, some for money. I helped with the church’s VBS program last year, and probably will again if I don’t get the camp job. I traveled to North Carolina for gas money to visit a long time friend and work on his church’s network. I created several new websites, including DailySerene.com, and several personal sites. I also rebuilt the websites for UCCN and C-IRC (C-IRC with the help of Ed), and developed an IRC-based trouble management system in PHP.
We bought a puppy, rented an apartment, gave up an apartment, took out a $2000 loan, moved twice, started a modern worship music section in a traditional church service, bought a guitar, taught Sunday School to High Schoolers, took several thousand photos, and had a few bad times, with lot of good times.
All in all I’m having a great time. I’m glad I moved, and while if I had to live my life again I’d probably do that part differently, I’m not at all unhappy with the way things worked out. In fact, I look forward to what the next 525 thousand-odd minutes have in store.