Sunday, February 16, 2014

Bittersweet Goodbye

"What you risk reveals what you value."
-Jeanette Winterson
We took a risk. We packed up and left a city we had lived in for 20+ years, moved our children thousands of miles away from their friends and family, and took the ultimate chance. I am so glad we did. We taught Henry and May that RISK IS GOOD. It's isn't always easy. It is scary. It can be daunting. But it taught us all about being flexible, curious and to enjoy one anothers company. It taught us that we value adventure, travel and that we like learning about new things. It exposed us.
We jumped right in and made the most of our time living in the UK. We moved at the perfect time...time to help the Queen celebrate her 60 years on the throne, time to see London shine bright at the Summer Olympics and time to welcome a new royal Prince into our adopted country. We came to understand what makes the British people tick...their quirky humour, their sensibility, their love of a Sunday Roast at their local pub, and their love all things to do with the weather.
We took a risk. We hiked, swam, dirt scootered, beach combed, safaried, walked, canoed, jumped, ran and biked our way all over the UK, Europe and Africa. We lived a normal life in Twyford. Our kids were the only Americans in a British school. Henry played cricket...a game that we still don't understand but he does. May competed against elite British gymnasts and discovered that she is great at other sports too. Pete strengthened his job credentials substantially along with a renewed business confidence. I became an expat and understand the quick friendships that form with other expats - friendships lead an accelerated life when you are an expat. They have too. People come and go so fast. We also formed some deep friendships with the lovely people of Twyford.
"Certainly, travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living."
-Miriam Beard

Our idea of living has changed. We learned that wherever we are, as long as we are together, that is home. We learned that we don't need a "huge" house to be comfortable...sometimes smaller is cozier. We re watched the entire series of "Friends" and exposed our kids to many inappropriate, 20-something, scenarios. We saw the way other cultures live, in mud huts, no shoes, blurred-cataract eyes, but with a sense of family and community so strong as to seem unbreakable. We felt the simple pleasures of walking to town, to the shops, mean so much more now that we have been forced to re-acclimate to the "American" the car...all...the...time. We embraced the Sunday tradition of a long country walk in the woods, no matter the weather, with a follow up Sunday roast at the local pub. Life slowed down, but not idle.

"The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes."
-Marcel Proust
We have new eyes. They have been opened, opened wide with all of our experiences and memories. Opened wide with new friendships and the confidence that only travel can bring. Our eyes are open to an enduring love of all things British: bunting, Cadbury chocolates, Nutella (not technically British but we learned to love it in Britain), bangers and mash, the impeccable driving skills all Brits possess, chips, the unique slang/lingo, crisps, a proper cuppa tea, biscuits, a pint of warm ale, how great a Pimms or a gin and tonic taste on a hot day, windy, rocky beaches, fields of sheep, the fascination of all things Royal, British bacon, the wearing of hats to social events, horse racing, the Tube, Harrods, the beauty of the British countryside, the pomp and circumstance, London cab drivers, and the fierce pride that the Brits have for their country.

So we say pip pip and cheerio to our adopted home. We say HIP HIP HOORAY to Great Britain. We return to the US of A with open eyes, new ideas in how we want to live and with the satisfied knowledge that we jumped at a chance of a lifetime and took a risk. Well done to us.