Welcome back to another post in the Expat Wisdom series! This months wisdom post is from Lauren of The Expat Chronicle. I really enjoyed reading this one, especially the quote at the end, let me know what you think of it!
There I was. Standing in the two-car garage of our home in Howell, New Jersey putting the finishing touches on an 18th Century armoire. My furniture restyling business had really taken off. Our garages which once housed both cars were now piled high with new projects to work on. Exciting times!
As I cleaned up my paint and brushes, I could hear neighborhood children playing in their front yards. Birds were chirping. The sun was shining. Life felt kind of…perfect actually. We lived in a wonderful community with tons of friends, great schools for our three kids and family only minutes away.
And despite the fact that our life was exactly where we wanted it to be…we decided one day to leave it all.
It’s always been a dream of my husband and mine to live abroad. However, those dreams took a backseat once we got married and started a family. What was once our passion turned into watching other families achieve theirs on the American TV show House Hunters International.
Still, we loved our life and had no regrets. We couldn’t imagine doing something insane like moving to another country! Until opportunity came knocking and awoke the dream in us both.
A job position was offered to my husband in beautiful Barcelona. I remember the night he came home and shared the news. Instead of jumping out of my chair with excitement…I cried! (Not my most supportive wife moment, I’ll admit!)
“Why?”, “How?”, “Now?!” These were some of the first words from my mouth. I mean, the timing just wasn’t right – horrible…really! If we put off the relocation another few years we’d be more “ready”, I told myself. After all, timing was everything…
But in the weeks that followed and after my emotions had simmered, I started doing some research. I began learning about the city we could call home – the people, the culture, schooling, holidays, traditions, food. I went from being terrified of the idea to falling in love with it.
One day I finally said to Tony, “We have an awesome life here. It couldn’t be better…and I want it to always feel that way. If we don’t move abroad, we may end up resenting things here that we truly love.” I felt a lump in my throat after the words came out. But in my heart, I knew I was right.
The right timing. People will spend their whole lives waiting for it. Making sure all the pieces of their puzzle align. But as they wait, the years pass and eventually the opportunity is lost. We couldn’t let that happen.
So our house went on the market (sold in ONE week!). We sat our children down and told them our plan to move abroad. You can read about that experience and how we approached such a sensitive topic in Expat Kids: Just Along for the Ride http://theexpatchronicle.net/along-for-the-ride/
We packed away our beloved treasures, most of which could not come overseas with us.
Those weeks of preparation were some of the scariest and most exciting of my life. Like inching your way up to the top of a steep roller coaster unable to see the thrilling drop below. What if we hated it? What if the kids did not adjust well? How about the language?!
So many concerns and questions swirling – but still, we didn’t turn back. And after 18 months of living in Barcelona, my life will never be the same. This experience has changed me; it’s changed us all. Had we waited for the perfect time when it made total sense for us to move, we would still be waiting…
Sure, sometimes I still have those days when I wonder if leaving it all behind was worth it. We miss having a backyard, a fireplace, homemade blueberry crumble and American football. We miss good friends and of course our beloved family.
But then I watch my seven year old proudly point on a map to all the different countries where his school friends come from; children he would have otherwise never known. I laugh as my two year old happily plays tag with our doorman, who speaks no English other than the word “bye”. I marvel at how far my own language skills have sharpened as a result of living in Spain, even if I still have a long way to go!
And I think about so many new adventures! In a short 18 months here, we’ve visited many medieval villages in Spain and major European cities like Vienna, London, Prague, Paris and Lake Como.
Yes we left so much behind, as all expats have to. But we’ve also gained more in return than we could ever put a value on. The timing was not perfect for us. We would have never chosen to leave when we did. But our wonderful life back home in the United States is waiting for us – when we’re ready to go back to it.
Afterall, “Ships are safest when in port – but that’s simply not what they’re built for…”
What did you think of this post? I think Lauren had some really great advice for us! If you have an expat story you would like to share, don’t hesitate to reach out to me at LittleMissExpatBlog@gmail.com
See you next week!
Little Miss Expat