Never in a million years would I have ever thought those words would come out of my mouth. Never! But it's true. I finally realized yesterday that it's not guilt about leaving (which is interesting in and of itself because it was guilt in the opposite direction when we moved here - guilt about leaving the US, now it's guilt about leaving Spain), but an actual fear. I've also read that often it can be just as hard to go back as it was to leave - and my friend Leigh made a good point yesterday - it's because you "know" it's going to be hard when you leave home to go somewhere new but that you "expect" it is going to be easy making the transition home and when it's not, in a sense it's even harder than leaving in the first place.
Yesterday when I was visiting Leigh, who has spent the majority of her life living abroad, we were talking about when the time is right for us to move back home and what the "consequences" may be. And I don't mean consequences in a bad way, but more so, what are the after effects of making that move. It was that reality that made me realize that is fear that is keeping me from getting excited about going home. I'm afraid that I will be disappointed in my choice to go back.
Now that doesn't mean that I don't want to go back. I do. I can't imagine living here forever. I miss my friends, I miss my family, I miss my (by comparison) easy life. But I also really have enjoyed (can't say loved - perhaps if I were a fluent Spanish speaker we could up it to love) our lives here. We have changed the pace of our lives. We have gone on adventures that we normally would not have gone on. We have travelled to amazing places and seen things that some may never see in a lifetime much less in under two years. And we have challenged ourselves in ways that we never would have thought to challenge. We have taken on these challenges differently than we do in the States and they also reflect how we've changed over the course of time. Things that I thought made life difficult at home do not compare to what makes my life difficult here. It's opened my eyes for sure.
So if my life is so "hard" why not come back home? Well, I plan to! But like I said, I'm a bit scared! After accomplishing so much here and seeing such wonderous places, I hate to say it, but I'm afraid I will be disappointed in my life at home. My life that I was so completely satisfied and happy with before I left, my life that I do miss all the time. But yet, looking back or perhaps looking back with what I know now, that life wasn't as fulfilling as I thought it was. If we hadn't come to Europe, I have no doubt I would have continued on as is and not have given a thought to what we were missing and would have been just as content. But now that we have had these experiences, what will my life be like now?
In a sense my life will feel ordinary. My friends will still be my friends, my family still my family. But after 3 1/2 years away they will have heard enough about our adventures overseas and probably won't really care to rehash it unless they are looking for travel advice in Europe. We'll have to settle back into our lives. Sports (though we do those here too), commuting to work (Josh), maintaining the house and going back to our routines - Cape - Attleboro - Cape - Attleboro. No, it's not a bad life at all and by no means am I complaining about the things that we've been so lucky to have. But it's the routine of our lives that are ho hum at home. We don't travel a lot, we spend summers on the Cape which we absolutely love. We do fun things with the kids all the time, albeit it's pretty much all done locally. And it's all stuff we can go back to at any time.
Is it that I want to stay longer in Europe? No, not necessarily. If we need to, then we'll figure that out as we go along and I'm not against it, but I'm also not 100% for it either - at some point we need to fish or cut bait and go home.
Is it the travel that we'll miss? Yeah absolutely we'll miss the travel - no doubt about it. But we also want to travel in the US more when we go back, though it won't be as often since it's significantly more expensive to travel at home than here (for your comparison - I booked us a flight to Basel, Switzerland for under 45 euros each which is about a 2 hour flight - when I looked into going home for Xmas and flights to Disney on Southwest the tickets were $250 each for a flight that's barely an hour longer...hmmmm Switzerland or Disney, what would you choose?).
Is it the fear that the routine of my life at home will be boring compared to my routine here? Absolutely - my routine here, while nothing exciting by any means (grocery shopping, lunch with friends, the gym) since it's comprised of similar things that I would do it home, is more of a challenge to me, in part, ok mostly because of, the language barrier. And while it's a frustrating challenge most of the time, it's also something that makes me want to better myself. And while it would be nice to be fluent in another language, I also won't be sad to go back home and speak only English. Kind of a catch-22 I guess.
Is it a fear of regret? Yup absolutely on that one too. Once we make the final decision to go home, that's it, no turning back. And that's a little daunting to me. Because while it will be exciting leading up to the time to go home, it will also mean that our lives in Europe are coming to a close... for good. That's it, finito, done. And will we look back and wish, well what if we'd just stayed another year? or two? Will the kids be ready to go? Aidan the other day told me that he'd like to stay for just one day of 4th grade. He defines his time here by grade - originally he was staying here until halfway thru 2nd grade (this Dec). Then when we extended he knew he was staying until the end of 3rd grade. So when I asked him about why he wanted to stay for just one day, his reply was "because I want to see if I like it and if I don't then we'll just go home". Yes, he is on the fence too I sense. Though I had to explain to him in general terms how much is involved in our transition back home and that unfortunately it's a situation where he either takes a chance and does all of 4th grade or we go back home but that we cannot just do one day. But wouldn't it be nice as the adults to be able to work that way? To be able to do just take it that one extra day - day by day - and see how it goes? To not have to plan a year in advance as to what our future will be?
My fear is that we will make a decision and that it won't be the right one. That we stay and wish we had gone home or that we go home and wish we had stayed. At what point do you know what's right for you? Or do you just jump in and hope for the best???