Making the choice. It was a joint decision with my husband to move out of the US. The decision followed a sudden death in the family which refocused our plans for the future. While we experienced several bumps (that were more like mountains) in the three years that followed we eventually made it to our destination in England. It did not happen without concerns and judgements from the peanut gallery of family, friends, and acquaintances. My husband was leaving behind a job in the military and there were options offered to him closer to his family.
The suggestions thrown my way were about me trying to possess some unhealthy association with my past. It was no secret that I had not been truly happy since moving to the US before my senior year of high school and the decade to follow. If I could not find happiness in the US, certainly I would still be just as unhappy anywhere in the world. Perhaps if I had been a typical American girl raised on American soil this would be true. I was raised abroad as a third culture kid caught between the American military culture, the three different cultures within the countries that I lived, and those places we traveled to that impacted my life during my developmental years. I was not meant to live a life of Olive Gardens, American football games and Walmarts. I was made to live a life abroad and a life of travel.
It was my first year as an expat and I was at an early morning meeting at the salon where I worked. I had been one of the first to arrive, sitting with my tea and my notebook that I journaled in while enjoying the solitude before a busy workday. We had been waiting for two coworkers to arrive ten minutes past the starting time. A usual occurrence I was realizing with the individuals I was working with at the time. My boss who was obviously upset with current situation asked us life motivating questions. I cannot quite remember the exact question I was asked when it was my turn to speak. Although I do remember my answer.
I was here because I made the choice to be here. My husband and I could have stayed and lived a unfulfilling life in America but we wanted something different. So we got rid of all our furniture, packed up our belongings, left our children with family and moved to England with out jobs, a place to live, or contacts. We basically hit the ground running and started applying for jobs. Which is how I came to be working at the salon. It was what helped us apply to get a place to live, to find a school for our boys to attend, and begin our life together as family in England. It was a risk that was not encouraged by all those that knew us but it was something about which my husband and I felt strongly and carried through.
Taking the ex-pat life has shown me how truly some risks are worth taking . You may not know the outcome or the journey you will have to take to get to a sense of normalcy. It will be challenging, it will have hard times, and it can end up costing more than you had endeavored. I do however hold no regrets. I do not have to live a life of thinking ‘what if’ or be living my life planning for the right time. There is never a right time when life is so short. We got married young, started our family young and we followed suite with following our dreams young. I may not have a savings account for my kids for college, but I have invested in their future as third culture kids and future world travelers. We have prepared their young lives for a broader world view and a chance to go where ever life calls them.
If I went back in time I would still make the same choice to live the ex-pat life.