Whee... and it's been a month. I've been circling the blog lately, because I don't know how to go about this. We are moving to Austria in July. On July 13th via Air Berlin. There are so many things about it I need to say, it's completely overwhelming.
So first: Why? I need to get this out of the way because I must explain myself at all times. Also, I could be misunderstood. Probably if I explain myself right, nobody will misunderstand, right? This is how the world works, yes?
We've been thinking about this for a long time. We are a two-nation (well, three) family. We knew this going in and it will never change. Part of the reason Lincoln and I could even meet was that nowadays people are not separated by oceans in the way they used to be, although that ocean, it's still just as painfully wide as it was hundreds of years ago. When we got married we were probably not quite aware what our situation would mean for our kids, so when they came along we started wondering how to make this bi-cultural situation work. We wanted them to learn both languages, know both worlds, both families. Living in both countries for a period of time seemed like a good idea, but for the last few years we were mostly busy surviving daily life with three kids 6 and under.
We've been living in Connecticut because of a great job and all the security and health insurance that comes with it. Then we had babies and just stayed put. Once the worst of the babyhood was over and our oldest child started to be more and more involved with school and friends we realized it was time to make a decision. We wanted to move closer to family but we also figured if we were ever going to make the move to Europe, this was probably our best chance. Letting another five or ten years pass by could anchor us, especially the children to a degree that we would not want to disrupt their lives so drastically. Learning a new language is easier when you're young and stays with you longer. The kids understand German perfectly but speaking is not going so well and we feel this is one of the more positive aspects of their often so stressful international situation: they could speak two languages fluently with virtually no effort at all. This last part is probably our second most important reason for going. Our kids will always be torn between two places, between dear people, between time zones and cultures. They will carry both in their hearts and their blood. I know so well how that feels (which I'm sure will add to their confusion of identity... a mother of clear origins, yet murky allegiances) and I'm sad with them for the heartache it will cause. At the same time I also know so well what incredible, priceless benefit it is to be familiar and at home in two different worlds. It's something that can't be artificially created or obtained at a renowned university. All experience and knowledge it brings aside, most of all they will get the opportunity to meet and love so many different people. I might have put them in a predicament by marrying their father, but I know it can also offer them richness in unexpected ways.
The first thing people say when they hear about our move is something like "Wow.... Wow. What a big move! That is so big! That is exciting! You must be so happy to be with your family!"
They are right, it is big and it's exciting and I'm happy. There are many good reasons we are doing this. I am happy to be close to my family again. But then again it isn't quite what it looks like. I wasn't dying to go "back". I didn't spend ten years in the US crying for my homeland. In fact I have done enough whining on this blog about my undefined cultural identity and the resulting permanent confusion and lack of that thing people call homeland that it should be obvious I could not have been championing for this move for the last ten years. I moved here because I wanted to and I embraced it all as much as I could, so much so, that I will miss it terribly and I bet when I get to Austria people will think me "americanized" and laugh at the funny way I make German sentences that really are just bad English translations. And then I will feel a bit heartbroken inside and secretly wish I could go to the US for a few days so I can feel "normal" again.
I know my children will likely go through similar feelings at some point in their lives. I'm ready to be there for them in case they need me. You feel like you don't quite belong anywhere? Call me. You wish you could melt all your countries into one happy perfect place? Call me. You miss someone? You have to say goodbye again? You have best friends you only see once a year (or a decade)? Call me.
Anyway. Living somewhere changes you, forever. It's not so much a loss of self as it's an expansion. Nevertheless it's difficult. I would have never pressured my husband into anything like it, I have nothing to gain from his unhappiness. This move is a 100% mutual idea. It's a big decision, but a good decision for our family right now. I don't know how long we will stay. I'm learning our life will not be planned out before us for 5, 10, 20 years at the time and I'm fine with that. Very much so. I just wish we didn't have to break hearts again and have dear family and friends suffer the consequences. There is no good solution to this but I'm trusting that - as always - love will come through in the end.Posted at 09:21 AM on June 17, 2010