Sunday, April 26, 2009

This Side That Side Which Side Both Sides

This past week has been a whirlwind of activity and emotion. We spent the week in the US house hunting, trying to picture life on that side of the pond once more… the towns, roads, malls, supermarkets, and oh yeah, my husband also has to think about his new job assignment every few seconds too.

Prior to making the trip stateside I was feeling rather blue and slightly anxious about the visit and especially about what buying a house in the states means for me. It means I’m moving. And, a huge part of me has just not been too excited about that fact. There was also the small part of me that could get excited about repatriating but we’ve been in a state of limbo for several months now wondering if and when this was actually going to happen so I’ve not really let myself feel any excitement. But here we are. It is actually happening. Soon. And it’s really hard to explain out loud to friends and family how I am feeling about it all because pretty much all of our friends and family say, ‘Wow, you must be so happy and excited to be coming back to America finally.’ Well, yes. And no. Please don't this economic climate we are truly thankful to have a job to move back to. I will say though that I have moved many many times in my life and it is not something that gets easier the more you do it. If anything I think as you get older it definitely gets tougher. So as we boarded our flight to the states last Friday I was maybe feeling a little sorry for myself and I might have let a tear slip as we pulled away from Heathrow and I tried to imagine how it will feel to make that trip and know I’m not returning in a week or two.

It’s a very funny place I find myself in at the moment. This funny place I find myself in is actually what prompted me to start blogging. I hoped to write some about how I’m feeling during this time of transition in my life. When I moved to England I had two children living at home, one was only 13 years old. I am returning to the states to a new house in a new town with no children living at home. A repatriation counsellor has informed me I’m ripe for a mid-life crisis. Terrific. Not exactly the reassurance I was looking for when I attended the repatriation seminar. If someone had told me ten years ago that I would someday need to attend a repatriation seminar I wouldn’t have even known what in the world they were talking about. I had no idea there was an entire profession dedicated to helping people acclimate to a new country or re-acclimate back to their home country which will feel in many ways like a new country when you’ve been living away from it for years. I probably would have been thinking, ‘What’s there to get used to? It’s America…home…it will be a no-brainer.’ Funny how time and distance and life in another country can change your perspective.

But here’s the thing…we really loved spending time this past week in the little town in North Jersey where we’ll be living once we get moved. And y’all… you do kind of forget how friendly Americans are. And I’m not saying people aren’t friendly in England but it’s not the same sort of friendliness you encounter in America. Everyone talks to you. The waiter, the person filling up my car, the man in line behind me at the post office, the bank teller, everyone. And they all seem to be rooting for me. They want me to love moving back, to love living in America once more. And I will.

So we enjoyed our week, felt overwhelmed in the shops, only tried to get in the car on the wrong side once or twice or everyday, bought a beautiful house in a lovely town, ate real New York style pizza and some awesome Mexican food, ran into some old friends, soaked up the sunshine, smiled at the deer we saw in someone’s yard, admired the very pretty views of the mountain ridge and valleys (hey, they don’t call it the Garden State for nothing!), talked about the fun we’d have popping in to New York City, and the list goes on. We got on a plane back to England Friday night feeling pretty happy and also excited about our future plans.

We arrived at Heathrow Airport early Saturday morning. You have to love a country where you can be in an airplane and have clouds so thick that you have no idea you’re touching down until the wheels actually make contact with the runway. And we picked up our pup at the kennel and chatted with the owner there for a few minutes about how darling our dog is and how her underbite gives her character. And we walked thru our front door into the charming English house we have lived in for 6 years. And I opened the curtains in my kitchen and saw my garden and all that had popped open in it while I was away. And it is truly beautiful and a sight I never get tired of seeing. And I ran into Fishers which is our local market, and the checker asked if I’d been away. And then today we went out to see the ‘car guy’ who has been working on my husband’s little MG while we were out of town and when my husband told him we were moving back to the states the car guy who we’ve dealt with for years actually got a little teary. And he gave me a big hug. And between the emotion, the exhaustion and the jet lag I contemplated for a minute collapsing into a puddle on his driveway.

Soon this side of the pond will be that side of the pond. Do I change my blog title? No, I don’t think so. The verses at the top of my blog are some of my favourite and have come to mean a lot to me especially these past few years as we’ve settled on ‘the far side of the sea.’ When we moved to England it was easy to feel that was precisely what we had done. I guess I just never thought that in re-settling in America, my home country for a time will also feel like ‘the far side of the sea'.


  1. Joyce,

    Your post actually brought tears to my eyes. If I allowed myself to truly let go, I would have collapsed into a puddle right here at my computer. Your story resonates with me for obvious reasons. I'm an expat, too, as you know and there recently was initial talk of our family leaving by next summer. The amount of time we will have been here by then is 1/3 of your time, but still will have similar effects.

    It has taken every bit of this time to really connect with some great people and I think about them and grieve for the friendship I will miss. You must be feeling those same things. It's the people and relationships that make it the hardest. The English countryside, the immense history here, and having Europe right at your fingertips certainly doesn't make it any easier. It will all be missed.

    I know I'm not easing any of your pain with this comment, but I guess I'm empathizing with you since I will go through virtually the same things, if not the exact things.

    Sending hugs to you from up north. I would really love to meet you. I'm considering taking a drive in your direction with all 5 of my kiddos just to say, "hey" and, of course, have a cuppa. :-)

  2. Great post. It all must feel very bittersweet.

    I'm glad you were able to find a house that you like and have some fun here. And I think keeping the blog name the same makes PERFECT sense. You're still on some side of the pond, after all. And like you said, the 'stranger in a strange land' thing will just now apply to THIS country.

    And next time you're down South, you know who to call.... :)

  3. I can imagine that life in America would take some getting used to again. I will be praying for your transition.

  4. What a wonderful, heartfelt post Joyce. So much to ponder over.

    I'm glad your visit back to the states was fruitful. You were able to find a house in just a! I'd love to see pictures if you were able to take any.

    I am a CA girl and would love to experience life elsewhere but I know it's harder to make friendships the older we get. As much as I want to move, I would be very sad, much like your feelings.

    Good luck with all that is taking place. You'll be in my thoughts and prayers.

  5. I am so thrilled that you have found a beautiful new house that you can call "home" when you move to the states. I know you have a million thoughts going through your head right now about the move. It is a very bittersweet time in your life, but God will be with you and things will work out just fine. I know that you will be thrilled to be closer to your girls, but leaving friends and the lovely UK will be so hard. Plus, just adjusting to life in a new place after being away for so long, will be real culture shock, to say the least. I will be praying for you all as you prepare for this big move. Take care and have a wonderful week. By the way, the picture of your dog is wonderful. What a beautiful dog! Love & blessings from NC!

  6. Good morning Joyce.

    What a great post. You wrote down all your thoughts and feelings perfectly and anyone who reads them will understand how you feel. Well ... try to anyway. I'm trying to compare it to moving out of state. You are established (even in a new culture that you obviously enjoy), with a home, school, church, friends and neighbors, and are being uprooted from all you know and love. I would think uncertainty is an appropriate emotion.

    I guess, since I have never moved farther away than 25 miles from where I was born, I won't know what bittersweet memories you are experiencing. I know I would look at it as a great adventure, but that's because I've always just lived here, in So. California. I dream about moving to a new place. But all I can think to say is, you've had a wonderful experience in England, and you will always have that. Now that you are moving to a new home back in the States, making new and catching up with old friends, you will make another entirely new and precious batch of memories. And I think you will enjoy it. You will mourn for "Jolly Ol' England" (sorry), but I have every Faith that Christ will lead you down a path a happiness and fulfillment.

    You will soon be back into the swing of things here. You'll be caught up in making this beautiful new house you purchased into your beautiful new home. Projects GALORE! I know moving isn't easy but I've always loved finding a new home and all that goes with it. Although this last one 5 years ago caught up with me. I think it was the 2 story house - never realized it would double the workload of the whole thing, having never lived in a 2 story home.

    AND! Girl, just think, you'll be the envy of the neighborhood with all the wonderful new dishes you now know how to create.

    I hope you are feeling a little more upbeat by the time you read your comments. Please know there are a lot of us over Stateside cheering you on as you set off onto yet another new path in your life. Sit back, relax, let the move happen and see which way The Lord leads you.

    Have a good and peaceful day. Try to look at it as an adventure!

    Big hugs! Karen

    ps. You get to bring your beautiful dog with you - correct?

  7. Ah, sweet post. I'm sure you are feeling all sorts of things right about now. We lived here for 3 years previously and moved back to TX with no clue that we would end up back I was quite emotional leaving..happy to be reunited with family and friends, but still sad about the life I had lived here for 3 years without ever stepping foot in America. It was hard to repatriate to be honest. We felt like fish out of water for a LONG time. I know that does not encourage you, sorry! How cool that you were able to go to a seminar, I had no idea those existed! :)

    Praying for you during this time!

  8. Joyce,
    I'm glad you all were able to find a house while you were here. It sounds like a very nice town and to be so close to NYC...that'll be lots of fun.
    I've lived in the same town for over 40 years. I can't really relate, but can imagine that it would be a difficult transition.
    I'll continue to be lifting you and your husband up in my prayers.
    I was on my laptop last night looking at this post and at first I couldn't tell what the picture of your dog was. I thought it was a person with some sort of fur coat on. :) (the way his?? front legs are positioned) I know.....I'm blonde. It only took about a minute for me to "get it." Your dog is beautiful, by the way.
    That's neat that you used to teach kindergarten. I taught for 17 years!!!
    I have (as I'm sure you do) tons of funny stories. And some not-so-fun stories. ;)
    Have a great week.

  9. Joyce, even though I did not move half away across the world, I did move back to Michigan after living down south for a while. It is a huge transition. I will pray for you and your move because I know it will be hard. You will do great, but it will take time to feel like home again. I am sure the thought of being closer to your girls will help. I felt your trepidation in your post, but again,with God by your side, you will be able to handle the change.

  10. If that is your yard and your garden, I can't imagine giving it up. Whenever we've traveled in Europe, home has always felt strange for a few days, so I can't begin to imagine how it will be for you.

    I had my first experience with not seeing the ground until we had touched down when we returned from our trip to France recently. As we were approaching JFK I kept wondering when we would pop out of the clouds and I would be able to see the ground. Well, all of a sudden it was there and we were on it. Strange feeling.

    My son and daughter-in-law are in Annapolis, MD. We will be visiting them in about three weeks for Brent's graduation from St. John's. He is getting a master of liberal arts and is hoping to find a position teaching at a classical school. They want to be closer to family--his or hers. We are in Birmingham, Alabama, and her family is in Seattle. Not possible to be close to both.

    Hopefully our granddaughter will make her arrival before we go for graduation. She is due May 7.

    Thanks for visiting my blog.

  11. I will miss all of your posts and pictures from THAT side of the pond. I really have enjoyed them. I love seeing how other parts of the world live their daily lives. You have been so blessed to have had this adventure.

  12. Joyce,

    I'm just now digging out of my email inbox and reading lots of comments from my blog. I looked up your profile and have had a wonderful time reading your blog and hearing your story :) This was a great post! I feel for you as you pack up and move, awaiting the adventure ahead and yet leaving the life you've known for these last few years. Moving is so tough, no matter where and why you move. Praying that this will be your smoothest transition yet! Blessings to you and your husband!