Thursday, June 24, 2010

Is she ever going to shut up about that?

Mmm....probably not. We've been back in the states for just over a year now. Some days it feels like we left England yesterday and some days it feels as if that life never happened. It's been a year filled with figuring out a life that is different than the one I left behind. Moving was not something new for us... we've moved a lot. And we've left behind people and places we loved every single time. But this time a whole way of living was left behind too and that, I think, has been the challenge.

I know with every move I make I need to give myself a year in order for a place to feel like home. To find doctors and dentists and the all important hair stylist. To learn the roads, the supermarkets, the find the fun. It's probably because we have moved a lot that we tend to get out and see and do whatever there is to see and do wherever we are... life is meant to be grabbed and savored and lived. We think we'll be in this house for the next several years but we've been surprised by opportunity in the past so Carpe Diem it is.

Besides the obvious, this move has been different than previous moves in a couple of big ways, the first one being no kids living at home. When you move with school aged children, like it or not, you have to pull yourself up by the bootstraps and get on with it. They need to get up and out the door in the morning. They need lunches made, dinners cooked, rides to ballet, the ball field, to have play dates and friends over. They connect with people and consequently you connect with people who are in a similar place in the parenting spectrum. Suddenly I have days to fill and very little of anything that is required. I could stay in my pjs all day every day. I could lay on the couch and watch tv all day every day. Did I mention that this move also coincided with the hormones going berserk?

Now, rest assured I don't stay in my pjs all day. And I don't lay on the couch and watch tv all day either. Some days I want to but hey, don't we all? The thing is I'm not a lay around kind of girl. I'm a person who needs to be doing. I know that some of the things I've felt this year I would have felt anyway. My kids would be off at school whether I was here or there. My big birthday would be rolling around regardless of where I was living and that's a good thing, right? And I'm pretty sure hormones are a worldwide phenomenon.

I mentally make lists of the good and the not so good. The things I loved there that aren't here and the things here that I missed there. I definitely fall into the glass half full camp in life and even though this post may make you question that I do stay focused on the good these days...for instance-

I can get in my car inside my garage without sucking in my stomach and standing sideways.
I can swing the car door all the way open without hitting another car/stone wall/person/hedge.
I never have to pull onto the verge on a two lane road in order for another car to pass while I fervently pray we don't lock side mirrors.
I can pull my car into and out of a parking space without doing a twenty five point turn.

But the roads are not charming. And I get honked at for not hitting 0-60 in .7 seconds when a traffic light changes. And people are not courteous when you are trying to pull into fact they quite often pretend they don't see you.

I can get in my car and be at the mall in 15 minutes. Or Target. Or the library, bank, post office, supermarket. Anywhere. And when I'm there I can buy just about anything I want. And I can go any time of day or night...the shoppes don't close at 5 PM. And there are banks open seven days a week.

I have to get in my car to get anywhere. No more walking into town. Do I really need the bank to be open seven days a week?

I love my house. I love the way it sits on the lot, the colors, the ginormous closets and lots of them, my central vac, reading in my sun room, my own sink in the master bath and hubs own sink way way way over on the other side of the master bath...the counters and cabinets underneath the sinks with lots of drawers and cabinets to hold all my 'stuff', space for the pool table...oh and did I mention the closets???

Renting means when something breaks you call the landlord and say, "something is broken" and they get it fixed. And they pay for it too.

It's beautiful here. I love the woods behind our house...

I love to look out my kitchen window and see deer and fox and chipmunks and birds of every type and color and even the occasional bear.

I love the changing seasons. The autumn was so pretty here it sometimes took my breath away. And snow piled high and dripping from the trees like icing on a wedding cake...just gorgeous.

There is nothing like a big beautiful English garden.

So much happened in that English garden.

Birds hung out, fish were observed, flowers bloomed...

Bees were stalked...

croquet was were strummed

Countless Frisbees were thrown and countless soccer balls were kicked by countless teenagers every. single. week.

Meals were eaten, newspapers were read, and naps were taken on warm sunny days.

There were no mosquitos to bother us and daylight in summertime lasted til forever.

I think of our English garden and I think of that quote by Thomas Fuller that says,

"Many things grow in a garden that were never sown there."
So very very true.

I could go and on. And on and on. Our house here feels like our house. It's comfy. It feels good to walk inside after you've been away. The town and roads have become familiar. We love the nearby big city. We've had friends for dinner. We work in the yard and have flowers blooming in pots on the deck. We do feel at home here now.

Except when we don't.

And perhaps that is part of the legacy of ex pat throw your whole self into wherever you may be. You open your heart big and wide to new people, new places, new customs, new scenery, new experiences. And when you leave it a tiny little piece of you remains in that place. In this new old country, new town, new home you are almost completely yourself and at home. Except for that tiny little piece. Most days it goes unnoticed. What you do grow to realize is that while you lived away a subtle shift occurred in the way you see life and the world and most of all yourself. And after a while you realize the shift was not temporary. And you're okay with that.


  1. What a wonderful post and absolutely gorgeous pictures! Do you think you'd have the same memories if the girls hadn't spent their high school years there? I think the kids get us to get involved and make new friends. You've lived in some awesome places!

  2. Loved this post! You make me want to live in England. I hope you feel at home soon.

  3. One day will you take me there and introduce me to the part you left behind?

  4. Oh Joyce! I relate to so many feelings that are revealed here, and I have never lived in such a lovely place as your pictures show, then moved. Of course you know my new place- the place where I am basically no longer needed for anything, because the kids are grown and gone (in my car!!!) and all I do is walk around my postage stamp lot that is mostly taken up with a swimming pool that is too cold for me to swim in, but that I must vacuum and skim daily.....*sigh* Anyway. If only you and I were next door neighbors. What a lot of gloom we could spread around. heehee. But no. Really. Focusing on the positive and just allowing yourself to be...remorseful...over the end of an era (that's what I call the time period I am currently sulking through) and most importantly, thanking the Lord in all things, trusting Him for everything and knowing for sure, beyond a shadow of a doubt that Zephaniah 3:17 is true: The Lord your God is with you. He is mighty to save. He delights in you, will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing! What a feeling, eh! I know I like that visual.

  5. and I miss you in England! We have been enjoying lovely weather and plenty of sunshine. In fact, I have to water the garden because it is so dry! I am excited to enjoy my first summer in the Chilterns, instead of in west Michigan. So far, so good!

  6. There's pros and cons about both sides of the pond but I must admit I'd prefer to live here (US) and visit there (UK, my home!). I do miss England but more because my family is still there. I love reading your posts and seeing pictures about it still, so don't ever stop ;-) I also miss the east coast (where we lived for 6 yrs before moving to TX) especially when I see pics like those beautiful trees in Fall.
    Have a super Friday and a great weekend.
    Hugs Denise

  7. We've been contemplating a move to another part of the country and you just voiced most of my concerns. We would be on our own with no one we know and no children at home to get us connected. You've brought to light a few things we haven't thought of and need to. Thanks for the post!

  8. I've only begun my ex-pat life in England, so it is nice to read what you've said. I can already see that I will leave a part of me when I go. There is so much to love about it!
    You also reminded me that home is where the heart is, no matter where or when.

  9. It's okay, this is what is on your heart. Many changes in your life and change is never easy.
    We moved 25 miles and that changes my life 3 years ago. After a year I left my part time job at Hallmark because it was silly to drive that far for a part time job. Then my health got bad. I feel like I am just now starting to live again and blogging has helped that. Of course blogging hasn't helped me on the PJ issue :) I started that job after my kids flew the nest, it was very good for me. ((HUGS))

  10. Very beautiful post! You have a way with words. I can feel your longing. And that little piece one leaves so true!

  11. Very well said! I feel that way about Arkansas. MO is my home now, but there is so many things I miss about AR. I am so glad we visit there quite often, and have a little house, so my kids can still come home. And grandkids can come to granny's house! England sounds absolutely beautiful. I love visiting there through your writings!
    until next time... nel

  12. Beautifully said, as always. I think if we're going to experience life, then we need to realize that there's that little bit of pain where, if we'd never experienced it, we wouldn't know to miss it. (I'm not nearly as eloquent as you are.)

    Another key to this whole experiencing life thing is this: it's a TINY piece. We miss it occasionally. The key is to keep it in perspective. I think you're doing a good job at that.

  13. *sniff* Okay, I am sitting here in tears because your words evoked such a yearning in me for you because I could actually feel what you are feeling, Joyce. I know it must be difficult but they are your feelings, they are real and I hope it helps to write them out here to us.
    I've always had this uncanny longing to see England and I don't really know why. I've often thought that if we ever made it over there, I probably wouldn't want to come back here BUT maybe not because I do like all that we are privileged to have in the US and I'm not just talking material things.
    Your pictures are sooo beautiful and I could hardly believe my eyes when I saw the wisteria growing along the side of the building! How beautiful!
    And one last thing....perhaps what Mary said about your children growing up in England has alot to do with your longing, Joyce, plus the hormonal activity you are dealing with. Hormones can wreak havoc and make everything seem out of kilter....."from one who knows". :-) ((HUGS))

  14. What a beautiful post, Joyce. I know how fond you were of England and that part of your life will always be so special to you and your girls! I have always lived in the same city, so it is hard for me to relate on the issue of moving. You have a wonderful way with words and are such a gifted writer! Love & blessings from NC!

  15. What great memories you have and I'm not sure I could have done that kind of move, myself.
    We once considered a move to the East Coast but at the time we had 2 toddlers and it just didn't make sense. Hormones played in that decision also. ha

    And from what I hear/read - you've sure done it all well. Your family is very lucky to have you at the helm of the homefront - where ever it may be!

    Have a great weekend!

  16. What an amazing post. You truly are gifted as a writer. There is absolutly no reason to apologize for this beautiful post.
    I was next to tears for much of it as well. We have moved many times ourselves and you know we just made another move. Many ask if my husband is in the military. Yikes. Here again, I find myself in a temporary situation, in this so not me lease home. Is it nice, yes. Is it me, no. Am I thankful my husband has a wonderful job and we can afford this lease home? Of coarse I am. So many in Michigan lost jobs and have not gotten new ones. Yet I still whine and fuss. My hormones are a mess, which does not help what so ever.
    Girl, I wish you lived closer because I'd love to stop on by and sit a spell with you in your sunroom and chat over a cuppa tea. You could tell me all about England, a place I will see some day. (I'm mostly English!)

    I love the pics you beautiful, all of them. However, I am drawn to that English garden.

    It is way late and I need to try and sleep...hormones have me up, grr. I'm coming back to re-read this post. I hope you have a great weekend.


  17. As a Jersey girl, I so understand the driving situation. Even the nicest people seem to become someone totally different behind the wheel. Even with the no cell phone law, it seem like everyone is on the phone and no one can wait a half a second. I often wonder what the hurry is.

    Your pictures of your English Garden makes me want to visit one. Although, I do believe there is nothing like fall in NJ.

    You can't help but leave pieces of you in a place you called home. Plus I do see your point about the ease of making friends when your kids are younger. They do force you out to the world. You will find all the beauty and peace here that you did there. It does have it's beaut and charm but a different beauty and charm.

  18. Joyce,

    You've just spoken to my heart and have written about exactly the things I am experiencing now. You said, "Some days it feels like we left England yesterday and some days it feels as if that life never happened. " How true that is! I don't like it that at times it feels as though it didn't happen. I want to recognize it, embrace it, talk about it, remember it, and cherish it always. You writing about it definitely helps me to do that and talking about it when friends or family care to listen is so very therapeutic for me.

    We have only been home in the U.S. since mid-March so I am not feeling completely at home just yet. And every so often missing our friends in the U.K. hits me square between the eyes and takes my breath away as though I was just sucker punched in the stomach. My eyes well up with tears and I remember. I remember the dear friends that took so long to make it seems. I remember our church and how God helped us to grow while there. I remember my neighborhood and how I loved walking through it to get my exercise with our beloved Fletch. I remember the coffee talks I had with my dear friend, Jane. I remember all the travels we made and the great places we saw. I remember and it feels great to do so.

    Thank you, friend, for writing so eloquently about a part of my life that I have lived and helping me to embrace and remember it. I need to write about it more on my own blog.

    Hugs from one expat to another,

  19. Loved this blog post- made me feel normal! Well... ha! We've moved a ridiculous amount in a tiny amount of time so I totally understand. I love my new town, and long for the old one(s) as well. You are not alone in this either!!

    For some reason its not letting me put my website in so here it is!