Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Big Changes Ahead

Life is full of changes and when you are an ex-pat, it's pretty much par for the course that things are going to change and change often.  Just when you get settled or finally get into a groove, BAM! Change!  You either roll with it or get run over by it, but it's going to happen no matter what.  I've never been a big fan of change but in the last 4 years, I've learned to while maybe not totally roll with it, at least be more accepting of it.

Back when I was home in August (yes August - I've had to postpone this entry for several reasons), Josh dropped yet another bomb on me.  I swear it's never ending sometimes - let's extend, let's extend again, let's move to Amsterdam, let's go back home... never ending.  Long story short, he said that after giving a lot of thought to things, he had decided (assuming I agreed) that this would be our last year living in Barcelona and that we would return to the US a year ahead of schedule, in the summer of 2014.

Knowing that Josh has indicated that he has no desire to return to the US and is incredibly happy here in Barcelona, I had to take this statement to heart.  His reasoning was that his job here was essentially done and that he had completed what he set out to do - he built a team of engineers that he could be proud of and that there was really no more work for him to do beyond the end of the year.  And given that I know his feelings about moving back, I felt I needed to take what he said very seriously and if he felt that the best move would be for us to go back to the US than that is what we should do.

And so of course, the panic set in.  Here I am, already in the US and all I can think of is the 5 zillion things I now need to do in Barcelona in order to prepare for a move that at this point, we don't even know is happening (this is all before Josh talked to his boss).  He was feeling me out for my thoughts on this plan.  And while it was certainly not my ideal plan, I also knew it wasn't his either.  I also trust him and know that he wouldn't make a decision like this lightly.

Upon returning from our trip to Croatia at the beginning of September, Josh sat down with his boss to discuss his return to the MA office.  And it was agreed, this was the best way to move forward and so began the process of our return home.

Though not so quick... Josh doesn't yet have a position to go back to in the States.  He and his boss are working on this but we are not naive to think that this is a guarantee.  So there are a lot of unknowns at this moment which makes things a little bit scary right now.  The only thing we do know is that as of October 1, Josh started the transition with the local lead to take over the team here in Barcelona. This transition is expected to take 3-6 months.  Beyond that, we know nothing regarding our return.  Nor have any formal arrangements (movers, etc) begun and I don't expect those to until after the start of the new year.

But wait... we're now halfway into November and there is more change happening!  Yes seriously, more. Because it would be boring if we were just semi in limbo.  We need to be fully in limbo!  So remember back to that post about Amsterdam and the possibility of us moving earlier this year?  As a refresher - there was an opening for the CTO position at Vistaprint's subsidiary company that Josh was interested in but did not pan out for several reasons.  Well, long story short is that the position that Josh wanted has been offered to him as an interim position for the next 6 months.  Why only interim?  It is my understanding that they are looking for someone outside the parent company for this position, but it's our hope is that interim becomes full time once Josh has the opportunity to prove himself which we know he will do.

So congratulations to Josh on his new position as Interim CTO (Chief Technology Officer) for Albumprinter.  I'm super excited for him and this new opportunity.  I have no doubt that he will be amazing at this role and show them what he's made of.  What I'm not super excited about is that it means he's going to be pretty much living in Amsterdam for the next 6 months.  Two to three weeks a month he will be there, coming home on the weekends.  Now Josh occasionally travels for work, but it's nothing like this.  Nothing at all.  So this will be new to all of us.  But we will get thru it knowing that the light at the end of the tunnel is an amazing opportunity for Josh that he has worked incredibly hard for.  The kids are dealing with the news in their own way and I fully expect some acting out as a result.  

And so, now we really don't know what we are doing.  We are still slated to go home next summer but are aware that this could change at a moments notice.  The challenge with that for me is school for the boys.  And finding a renter for our house as our current tenants have given their notice - so do we do a short term rental or a long term rental?  We recently decided that our plan is to return to Attleboro so at least looking for a new house is now off our plates.  But there is still the huge laundry list of stuff (oh believe me, there is already another entry in the hopper on just this) that needs to get done to move a family of 4 across the pond.

And in the meantime we are taking full advantage of our time left in Europe as we would rather base our plans on the assumption that we will be going home in July than to miss out on great adventures because we assume we'll be here longer (though that is our sincere hope).  We are going to go out with a bang and with no regrets on our time spent here, soaking up the culture, the travel and the lifestyle.

So how do I feel about all of this?  I'm ambivalent.  As I've known about this for about 3 months, I've had some time to process.  And it doesn't necessarily help, especially since 2 weeks ago Josh threw yet another wrench in things with this new position in Amsterdam.  I almost wish we'd been given 2 weeks notice and we just had to run with it.  But alas, not the case.  Anyways, I'm back and forth. There are days where I think, "I'm just not ready - I need more time.  I need more time for this life to be a part of who our kids' become - for them to be sponges and absorb every possible thing around us and to appreciate this life that we've been so lucky to have.  I don't want to leave my new friends, our new lifestyle.  I finally feel settled."  And then there are others when I'm just too exhausted to think or say anything in Spanish any more or the back door to our kitchen needs to be hip checked just right to close it where I think "just get me back home to my normal life, my family, my friends, my house and everything that I had before we came here."  It's absolutely a rebound effect over and over again, the pros and cons list could go on forever.

There is no win or lose in this situation.  We have to leave at some time.  We always knew this was not forever.  It has changed us in more ways that I can ever count.  My only hope is that wherever we land - whether home, Amsterdam or here in Barcelona -  we take a piece of this life with us.  I hate the idea of saying goodbye again, but as I've found with our friends and family at home, those that matter will stay in our lives no matter where we live and with technology today, it's not hard to stay in touch.  But I want us to continue living a more adventurous life with more travel, with interesting people and a lifestyle that is more about working to live and not living to work.  If we take even a little bit of that back with us, I think I can be happy.  But not the turtle that I hear swimming in his aquarium behind me - anyone want a turtle??


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