The toaster that put me over the edge

I have a new toaster. This is a good thing, as the old one was showing signs of age. It was also American, and had to be plugged in to my transformer. So did my stick blender and my hand mixer. All of them are gone now. Along with the new toaster I got this excellent multi-tasker which replaces the stick blender and mixer but also gives me the capabilities of a food processor, a tool that I’ve never owned before. So now there are only a few things left that run on American power, my beloved Kitchenaid stand mixer being one of them, but as that’s only used occasionally I’ve put the transformer away in the closet.

Gulp.

I knew there would come a time when I had acquired many British things and that if I stuck around here long enough, I would start to have this happen. My British possessions would start taking over from my American ones. I saw it happening first in my wardrobe, then in my linen closet, next in my gadgets and electronica, and now amongst my kitchen appliances. Yes I still own things that came over with me when I jumped across the pond, but they are now easily outnumbered by the things I’ve acquired here.

Gulp.

The prospect of the permanent residency application and my lingering feelings of doubt over my long-term future still weigh heavily on my mind. I am lucky to have a good job here and know that in some ways I am extremely lucky compared with my American counterparts, as the job is slightly different in the two countries and I like the British version. Well, mostly. I still don’t know what to do with the next 30 years of my life, but now I know that if I were to move back I would be a lot like I was when I first moved here but in reverse: lots of things with British plugs and a transformer back to 110 V. And do you know what? The British things I have are much nicer than the American things they’ve replaced. My new hand blender/multitasker replaced a couple of bottom-of-the-line Target post-divorce acquisitions. And it matches my new toaster with its gorgeous retro creamy finish. And interestingly enough it’s the first time I’ve ever owned a pop-up toaster: I have converted after a lifetime of toaster-ovens. Because they don’t seem to exist here, at least not at the stores at which I shop. So my new toaster becomes the symbol of my new and very different self after 4.5 years (!) of living overseas. Who saw that coming?

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7 responses to “The toaster that put me over the edge

  1. We’ve already made the decision to store all of our U.S. appliances and just buy the UK ones…but it’s a weird thing, knowing that at some point one becomes closer to being a part of the country of their residence versus the country of their birth.

    This happened with my husband who is Canadian…after having lived in Texas for the past 8 years (in spite of the first 24 of living in Canada) he is far more Texan than Canadian…and prefers it. I am wondering how we both will feel after a few years of England…

    Thanks for the thoughts — it’s helpful to see you processing all of this..

    • My situation was sort of unique, in that I moved out of my flat in the US before I knew that I’d be moving to the UK–I spent two months in Europe then including having my job interview here and then had my things sent here to start the job. So I brought a bunch of things with me that a person who knew they were moving countries would not have moved overseas!

  2. I’m trying to think what I still have left from when I arrived here 25 years ago . . . my backpack, a sweater I handknit myself, a skirt (that is now several sizes too small, but again, I made it myself), a blouse that just screams 80’s (that I haven’t worn in years and I don’t know why I still have it!) No electronic stuff – I had a Walkman and bought some battery-powered speakers for it at Heathrow, and then got an AC adapter at Radio Shack later. I bought a kettle on my first trip up to Canada, because they weren’t easily available in the US at that time.

  3. What about a nice electric kettle to go with the toaster?

    I love the way something so simple and mundane has become such a symbol for you. You explain it very well. I had a similar moment this week when my daughter was talking about the American flag and referred to it as “our” flag. Such a small word to hold so much baggage.

    • An electric kettle was the first British appliance I bought when I arrived here–I used a French Press pot for coffee in those days (before I got my Nespresso machine) and I still use it for tea and making instant soups and things.

  4. Hi, I’m another American in the UK, and I’m having the same thing happen! The turnover is a bit scary. . . it kind of sneaks up on you, and I’m not sure quite how I feel about it. On the one hand, I live here, and I intend to stay. And I quite like my nice BHS blender. But on the other, change is hard. And things like toasters become all symbolic of one’s identity changing.

    (Also, what the frick is it with Americans and toaster ovens? My mom would go insane if we were to part her from hers. )

  5. I know exactly what you mean. For me it happened in reverse when I finally walked in to Victoria’s Secret and bought my first non-Marks and Spencers bra.

    Also in reverse – no toaster ovens in the UK because most ovens came with a grill, it was strange to me when I came to the US and had to contend with frying my bacon!!

    On another note – lots of my English family now own American burr coffee grinders, because that is DEFINITELY something the Americans do better.

    Now time for a cup of coffee. I really should not be allowed to post comments before 7am.

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