It was 20 months ago – almost to the day – when we started this blog to account for our first expat experience. And it was 20 months ago that the movers were packing up my house as I sat in my den blogging and pondering what it meant to wrap up our lives in NJ and move away from everything I know and love.
Well, I guess the old saying is true - the more things change, the more they stay the same – because here we are again, nearly two years later doing almost the exact same thing. My movers are packing up my apartment as I sit here pondering what it means to return home after one of the most worthwhile experiences of my life in another country and culture, away from family and friends and everything I love.
After months of uncertainty, we are finally on our way home to the U.S.
And while I am excited to be home for Thanksgiving and the Christmas holidays, as well as the birth of the baby, I cannot ignore the moments of sadness that nearly overwhelm me at times. Pregnancy hormones aside, I am truly going to miss my life here, because I really did have a life here. This experience wasn’t just some long vacation or time-pass until we went home again. I was determined to make the most of my stay here and to feel at home, and that is just what I did.
Me - who hates change, finds it difficult to meet people and make friends, has a million food restrictions and isn’t always a glass-half-full kind of gal. I was able to create a good life here for myself – to make great friends, try new foods, experience and appreciate new customs and cultures, learn the roads, become President of a 300 member expat club and even (sometimes) handle the frustrations that come with Mexican life. It is not so easy to leave all that behind.
Not to mention the fact that we will never – and I mean never – live this well again. Even if we go expat again, I highly doubt that my apartment will be this big, that I will have a live-in maid who does everything from clean to cook to be a nanny, that I will be able to afford personal trainers and in-home masseuses, that I will be able to walk everywhere and live in a city atmosphere but still have the luxury of a car for when I am running late or need to go someplace far, that I will have a driver who does handy work around the house, goes to pay our bills, buys the groceries, runs all our errands, etc., etc. etc. Such is life in Latin America, and I doubt it can be duplicated anywhere else – perhaps not even Asia.
So why exactly are we leaving all this behind? Clearly, it is not the smartest lifestyle decision, and it is probably among the dumber financial decisions we could make.
But this is why we need to be home for now: Because when my Thanksgiving plans fell through at the last minute I emailed Sonny’s cousin to tell him – not ask him – that we would be coming to their house, increasing the guest count from 22 to 24. And within 45 seconds I got an email back, saying “do you really have to ask – just show up.”
Because my mom is rearranging her entire house for a room for Asha and giving Sonny and me the master bedroom until we find our own place. Because my in-laws are counting down the days until Asha gets home so they can drive her to and from school every day in order to help me out. Because Asha needs to know her cousins, and have steady friends and ride her bike outside. Because the baby needs to feel the same love and attention from her grandparents that Asha did from the day she was born, and to go to story time at the library and playgroup once a week, and be raised by a mother who cannot get away with letting the maid give her a bottle. Because our brothers miss us and our parents are healthy and we never know what the future holds.