And Now We Breathe

©2014 A. Stephenson
©2014 A. Stephenson


Aaahhh, it feels good to exhale and inhale again.  Deeply, fully.  We’re finally here in Germany.  Dogs travelled well.  We’ve found a house.  We still have only the clothes and backpacks on our backs, but the day is coming when we’ll settle, and so I find myself actually breathing again.  For, possibly, the first time in months.

But here’s the rub:  I want to relax and enjoy, but not settle too much.  The word settle is funny and a little unnerving to me–I get this visual image of fish food sinking down to the bottom of the tank.  Then just lying there until it decays or gets gobbled up.  Ewww.  That’s not the objective here.

I love the fact that launching yourself into a new life and a new culture gives you fresh eyes, and does so often catch at your breath.  It may be unnerving sometimes, but being a little off balance is heady stuff–an adrenaline rush.  It’s fun!

I won’t deny it–it’s a relief to breathe again.  But I’m pasting a photo below of one of the many moments today when my breath stopped and my heart skipped a beat.  We’re in Europe!  And that’s worth a few missed breaths.

No doubt about it–I hope the currents will allow me to waft around a bit in this life before I settle.



And now for something completely different. . .

Snow in Ripon, England. Winter of 2009.
Snow in Ripon, England. Winter of 2009.

I should have seen it coming, this business of pulling up stakes and moving overseas again. All the signs were there. And I was no novice.

But I didn’t.

Back at Christmas, I told my sister that I thought something was coming on. I felt a re-invention, a sea change, just on the horizon, but I couldn’t pin down just what it was going to be about. A midlife crisis, I assumed. (At 47, that’s what you always assume.)

Scroll out by a few weeks, and I would find myself in the kitchen of my Montgomery, Alabama home, drinking coffee and looking out the window at snowfall. Yes, SNOWFALL. In Alabama. THAT, my friends, is a seismic event. And here’s the thing about seismic events: sometimes they are the main show, sometimes they are the aftershock, and sometimes they are the foreshock. The rumblings of something bigger to come.

Silly me, I treated this snow as an aftershock. I got nostalgic for the 4 years we’d spent living in Yorkshire, England–the cold, wet, and absolutely glorious years. Since moving back stateside, we’d been in the Deep South–just as wet as England (not usually rainy, but so muggy that you could wring your shirt out and collect a trough of water most summer days), but never, NO NEVER, snowy. Yet, here I was. Drinking coffee and watching downy flakes fall. Ah, nostalgia.

Scroll out by a few weeks again. My husband has just returned from a two week business trip to Vietnam and Cambodia. Home 36 hours. Sitting across the breakfast table over still-warm coffee. And comes the shock. Not the vague rumblings of something at a distance. The main event. “I got an email before you woke up this morning.” I sip my coffee and turn a sleepy Sunday morning eye his way. “We’re moving to Germany.” I choke on my coffee, splutter, and mutter, “What?” I don’t remember exactly the conversation that ensued, except (and this I’m not proud of) a threat that if this was his idea of a joke, bad things–seriously, seriously bad things–would come his way.

Suddenly it all made sense. The sea change. The rumblings of something on the horizon. The re-invention, the tough changes, the big adventure–the whole enchilada, man.

So, now, the hard part begins. Tying up the loose ends of our life here. Packing up our worldly goods. Figuring out the logistics of an overseas move. Comforting our kids, who are leaving a great life they know and love. Moves are hard; hard and sharp edged. But I keep putting my ear to the ground and hearing those rumblings of something out there, just a few short weeks away now. Something big and astonishing. Another chapter in our lives as expats. New travels, new customs, new eyes to see a new world.

I’ll send you postcards from the road.