In a couple of days I will be able to say ‘we leave next year’ when someone asks us how long we have left in Oisterwijk. For the longest time I’ve lived with that as an abstract idea- not really something in the foreseeable future- and definitely something that I was dreading. If I didn’t think about it, talk about it or face it— it wasn’t really real. It wasn’t really going to happen.
Look how tiny they were! Us after arriving in 2012.
Well, that’s not possible. And, true to form, I find myself getting a bit twitchy as of late. Not too bad- at least not yet- but it’s coming and I can feel it.
Call Me Vianne
If you’ve ever seen the 2000 movie Chocolat, you know what I’m talking about when I say I am Vianne. True, I don’t have a mother’s urn of ashes telling me to go where the north wind goes- but my analogy still works in my mind.
But still the clever north wind was not satisfied. It spoke to Vianne of towns yet to be visited, friends in need yet to be discovered, battles yet to be fought…
Oh and no, I don’t mean having her enviable brunette hair (I wish!) or hook up with Johnny Depp (a girl can dream). What I’m talking about is her deep-down feel for migration. For movement. To see what else is out there in the world. Who else can be helped and what else can I do. Learn that by now staying in one place might just not be meant for me. At least for a while.
When I was in my early 20s I had already moved over a dozen times. I had lived in a couple states on my own and lived without ever getting rid of my brown moving boxes. Then I met my husband and the first thing we did after returning from our honeymoon (literally the next day), was move to South Carolina.
From there you know the story how we lived there for six years and then moved here to Oisterwijk. We struck gold- found a lovely village with kind people and a fantastic school. We have been the novel Americans to our friends in Oist and the boys fit right in. Anyhow- my point is that the ‘north wind’ that Vianne listened to- saying it was time to move on, grew quiet. I, and we, as a family, grew very comfortable in this skin. And so with that the years have ticked by.
I know that anything is possible. Anything could happen. However, my husband is pretty much as the top of his line here without much possibility of movement above him. That, in itself makes it very clear that the time is drawing near and for the first time, that’s actually beginning to be ok.
Without a doubt that doesn’t mean my itchy suitcases consider our friends or our school. It’s more of an overall pull- a desire to see another challenge through, to experience something else and have a different view (literally and figuratively). So when I talk about this sensation of ‘it’s ok that it’s time to go’ that says nothing about the people who are most important to us where we live- they just don’t factor into that drive. That’s emotional and not saying it isn’t important- but it’s something we knew was coming along the way at some point and we can’t worry about it right now.
So what kind of challenge are we considering since staying isn’t an option? Basically anything and everything is on the table. My husband is good at what he does and has made a name for himself in his field. People know that he’s ready for the next step and there are options for us to choose from. Nothing is written in stone- and nothing will most likely be signed officially until six months out of this contract ending (May 2018) so I know everything can change. It’s best not to get attached to the idea of one place because something else could pop up that’s more appealing. Or we might end up being disappointed. I don’t foresee that happening though- as I have adopted the ‘if it’s meant to be’ mantra a long time ago…. Additionally our situation reminds me of that shitty 90s song Closing Time: ‘You don’t have to go home but you can’t.stay.here….’
Would we go to Germany? I’ll be honest and say Germany has never bewitched me with her spell. A while back I told my husband I would rather go to Germany than back to the US- but honestly I no longer feel that way. We’ve visited enough, driven through it enough (it really is like the Ohio of Europe when you’re on your way to Florida from Michigan) and there’s just a bit too much drama going on with the country itself. I’ve never had the desire to attend an Oktoberfest and other than sauerkraut dishes, the food is not my favorite. So, unless it was some kind of amazing offer- Germany is off the list (insert House Hunters ‘swipe’ sound here).
Something that is always possible is moving back to the US. What’s really messed up is that prior to the election I was all HELL NO at the thought of moving back. The idea of a Trump president scared me (and it still does). But I have faith in the good of America that it will outlast and outsmart the lunacy of his regime. Maybe I want to be there to see that? Maybe I want to get involved and champion for a cause against it? Whatever the case, he doesn’t intimidate me and I would be ok moving back to a small village where we’ve never been and settle down in our dream craftsman or historic home. We’d find a school for the kids where people loved their teachers and treated them with respect as they do here. We’d find our way as foreigners in our home country for a bit- but I believe it’s possible. I can’t say I MISS things or the level of consumption in the US really, but the idea no longer makes me angry or want to throttle someone.
Another idea is to go someplace completely different. Tropical? Far East? A place where we might live with air conditioners or a personal driver? I don’t know about this one yet. It’s not as impossible as, say, moving to Mars or anything- but it could happen. Maybe. And that would truly be an ‘expat experience’ for us all- another language, another culture, another way of life. Isn’t that how it’s supposed to be anyhow? I’ve always felt we kind of cheated and stayed where we landed and immediately fell into rhythm. Maybe it’s good for the soul to be out of sorts for a bit. Feel a little discombobulated for a while. Give the boys another way of looking at people and life. Oh the adults they will become!
The boys on the other hand have all kinds of ideas: Spain so we could spy on Sinterklaas, a place where you can go mountain climbing and cliff diving with no sharks (has to be warm but not hot), Tuscany maybe, or China where the panda bears live.
So much input! Guess time will tell.
Here’s to 2017 being our last full year here- and also being the best yet. Same wishes to you and yours wherever you might be!