Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Two Months Post Move: Hitting the Reset Button

A few weeks ago on the eve of me and Fionn driving to our new home, I wrote about being honest about the upcoming transition. I worried most about entering that "now what?" stage that would settle once the boxes are unpacked and Fionn is off to work and I'm looking around trying to put the pieces of my life back together.

Yep, definitely feel like I've entered that stage!

The blog has been quiet because life has been full of all the annoying ins and outs of starting over. Trying to make friends, making our house feel like home, discovering that awesome local restaurant and getting there without using GPS...they fill up my days and they tire me out and I feel like I have nothing left to give to the blog but grumpy observations about how moving STILL sucks, and ain't nobody got time for all that negative blah blah.

It's also been hard adjusting to reverse culture shock. I'll admit, I didn't think this was really going to be a problem, but I have to be honest with myself. For the past 5 years, time in America meant I was waiting til it was time to head back to Europe. Since 2009, the longest I stayed in America was 7 months. The majority of my twenties have been spent in Europe, and it has been hard realizing that this might be it, that there is no return trip in my future. I wasn't ready to leave and I would have stayed if I hadn't been forced to move. In some ways, I returned to a country that is mine but doesn't always feel like it. Who changed, me or America?

This weekend was a turning point for me. I'd spent all week feeling beaten up by this move. I felt lost, confused, frustrated, and unsure of what to do next or if I could handle all the uncertainty. I just kept thinking, "This ISN'T where I want to be!!"

It was in this stormy mood that I hit the highway to go to my parents' house for Easter. Fionn stayed behind since he had a lot of work to do, and I had miles of open highway to process all of these swirly thoughts. As I drove, I smiled as I passed beautiful Georgia countryside. I sang along with my favorite songs and listened to talk radio in English (still a novelty). I reveled in big, multi-lane highways and being able to drive at a reasonable speed on the highway without being bullied by Autobahn drivers tailgating in their BMWs.

It dawned on me that I could throw a backpack full of clothes into my car and be at my mom's house in time for dinner. That I could do this any weekend I wanted, and that the trip wouldn't end with tears and farewells and wondering if it would be a year before I saw my family again. Instead, this trip would end with a smile and plans to meet up in a few weeks.

"Isn't this where I wanted to be?"

This thought came back again and again as I spent an awesome weekend with my family. All the small details seemed huge to me-men wearing seersucker suits to Easter Sunday service, families exchanging stories in thick Southern drawls, an Easter dinner with the staples I grew up eating year after year, the azaleas and dogwoods blooming in the backyard...these little details of my childhood upbringing pierced through the dark storm cloud I'd been enveloped in all week.

"Isn't this where I wanted to be?"

I spent 5 incredible years in Europe. I traveled, I lived, I loved, and I made the most of my opportunities. Our new home in Georgia is not where I chose to be or even where I want to be some days, but instead of wishing my time away, I should make the most of it, just like I did in Europe. True, I didn't get to spend Easter in Istanbul like I did in 2012, but I got to spend it with my family, something I haven't done since 2011. And somehow, this Easter was more memorable than the one in Turkey.

Like my mom says, "The best and the worst thing about life is that nothing lasts forever." How true that is. Europe was a season in my life. A beautiful, wonderful season of travel and adventure, and hopefully we get to experience that again someday. But there is more to life than just one season, and I want to experience and enjoy this one that I'm in now with its family and old friends and familiarity. Whether there's snow or sunshine, there is always something beautiful about wherever you are.

So, I'm hitting the reset button. I'm dispersing the rainclouds, getting my head back in the game and focusing on the silver lining. I just needed some perspective.


  1. As one chapter closes, another one opens as they say! Georgia looks beautiful! :)

  2. This is such a great post. I've just moved back to the UK but don't feel like I'm experiencing reverse culture shock because I know I'm returning to Tanzania very soon. I actually have a post scheduled for Friday about this. What you've said here highlights how enjoying those things you missed out on while away is one way to process the shock and move past it. Thanks for sharing!

  3. How true this is! I spent the first few years living in NC hating it, crying every time I left family, and dreading everything the south had to offer. And then one day, it suddenly started to feel more like home than home did. The longer I was away, the less I missed. And although I still enjoy going back to Maine to see family and friends, that chapter has closed, and I am more than happy now to call myself a "southern transplant!"

  4. What a fantastic revelation. GOOD for you gal, good for you! Your Mom is a wise one. I'm still adjusting to Europe but I can certainly see the challenging transition of repatriation down the road.

  5. Definitely come visit Melbourne, FL! Beautiful beaches and a sweet schnauzer.