Ana and I decided in 2018 that after travelling back and forth between Portland and Berlin that it was time one of us moved. It was time to find out if this thing was a long lasting thing but the only way to know that is if we were in the same place, the same country even. We looked at our locations and after much talking, much prayer on my side of things, and much deliberation we decided that it was much more feasible for me to move to Europe. It would be easier for me to get a visa. I love Portland. I love my job but it also seemed like the right time for me to take a break from the church world as well. I could go on voluntary personal leave and we could figure this out together. We also made some promises to one another. We both love to travel so we promised to travel as much as possible while in Europe. It is so much easier to travel around Europe while in Europe. We also said that this would be for a year to 18 months and then we would move back to Oregon, especially as it became pretty clear pretty early on that I wouldn’t be able to work in the ways I wanted to in Berlin.
Our first year here included lots of travel and lots of adjustment. It works between us in really awesome ways. This is definitely a long lasting thing. We know that now. And we choose that now. As the first year past, I started to really rumble about starting to make plans to return and to Ana’s credit she was looking into how that could happen but what we realized as we started to look was that it would actually benefit us so much more if we could wait until Ana can apply for German citizenship. This means more time here. The benefits way out weigh the negatives to this process which means that we don’t move back to the states within the agreed upon timeline. We have now passed the 18 month timeline as we both agree that it is beneficial to stay just a little bit longer which will probably amount to about double the agreed upon time. In May, we will celebrate my second anniversary in Berlin.
I don’t regret this decision. It is no secret that I really have horrible homesickness a lot of the time, I can’t wait to move back for some reasons including my job and my family being the big two reasons, and that I yearn for Portland life BUT I also am taking full advantage of European life…enrolling in school, making and investing in friends, nannying and yes, travelling still as much as possible. And it is a decision that I have active choice in.
What has hit me this week about this timeline though is that when I was going to just be away for a year, I think in my mind many of the things I left would be the same when I returned. A lot can happen in a year but not so much that the world feels as though it is rapidly changing. The nieces and nephews would just a be a year older, my friends would still be in their locations, not too many businesses would change, and people would still be as active in keeping in contact. BUT when I am away for three years or so, and this moving into my second year of being away, things do keep moving and changing. Just this week one of my closest friends told me that she would probably be moving away and another of my closest friends announced a brand new business that I didn’t know was so close to launching…I thought it was still just a seed of an idea. Both things are amazing opportunities and wonderful things for both of them. I want to rejoice in their successes and get excited with them as they move forward and there is a tiny piece of me that thinks…I didn’t know, why didn’t I know? You were supposed to stay as is so I could just pop back into your life as I was!
It’s not realistic for sure because I know how my life is moving and changing. I know that my life is not stagnant and I want my people to rejoice in successes that I enjoy and know about my sorrows. I think any of us who have left feel this tug and pull.
So when I heard about these things this week, I took a deep breath and reset. These things are good and I am so happy for them and now I can tell them so. I don’t want to get upset that things happen while I am away. This is part of life and we are all changing and moving, growing and learning, listening and reacting. I know that. I get that. Part of the expat challenge. We won’t always be in the know because we are so far away and yet I have to constantly remind myself of that and readjust.