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3 Year Post Move: Reflections from Another Country

view of beautiful Vancouver from Science World, even in dense clouds

The clouds are starting to give way to clearer skies, some of the flowers have started blooming, and the birds are out chirping. It's much easier to have a better mood when Spring is arriving- no matter where you're living! I have to admit there is no where else I'd rather be in the late Spring and Summer as Beautiful British Columbia. Although I know I'll crave a good thunder and lightning storm in early Summer (and I won't get it), and I'll say around mid-August, "just ONE day of rain for a change, please!", the weather is mild, the humidity is non-existant, the beach is calling, and the view of the clear skies over purply- gray mountains is breath-taking.

As of February 24th, we've been living in the Pacific Northwest for three years. Pretty soon, Ani will have spent the same amount of her childhood here as in her hometown of Lincoln, Nebraska, which is a surprising thought. We've lived in three cities, and two countries during that short time, and we're approaching the 1 year mark of our home in Fort Langley (early April), which has gone by fast.

This is the first year since our move where I've felt a bit more stable, because there are no future moves on the horizon, we're solidly planted in a church, home group, and family bible study with friends, our kids have their own friends and aren't struggling with that anymore, and we're just living life. Aside from taxes (don't get me going about our still outstanding tax fiascos! I need my adrenaline for other things), we have nothing 'outstanding'. There are no more administrative issues to change or switch over. Fees have been paid their dues. We're on regular schedule with all bills. Things you just don't think about when you move, are drastically harder when you switch countries.

Something I've noticed is that a lot of my personal interests and hobbies have fallen by the wayside for the quiet and physical rest of reading. While I love my once-a-month dabbling with Called to Create, I'm still not ready to pursue any other craft or art endeavors because of the mental capacities that have been on high alert these last few years. I'm sure I'll be motivated to do something art related in the future, but as for now, the closet-full of art supplies go unused. I just don't have the energy yet.

I didn't envision myself being so drained by a move, and although I'm pretty good at navel-gazing, I underestimated just how a slightly different culture and a drastically different landscape (metaphorically speaking) can mentally take out of someone. These last three years looking back have been similar to the years when I had babies and I'd zone out at the wall for an hour just to absorb the quiet and let my brain catch up to the newness.

I've also realized that not only have I always valued travel, I have had three years to explore one of the most beautiful areas in the world-the Pacific Northwest of the USA and of Canada, and I've barely scratched the surface. I have an incredibly opportunity to go up north and down south--literally 1,000 miles in either direction and that's just staying on the coast. Amazing! I fully plan to put that to use. I value travel, but I also have to make it happen. I am not content to stay within my 100 mile radius for the entire year.

Other things that have been hard are the things I knew would be the hardest before we even moved: not seeing and enjoying family and close friendships that I was accustomed to. That's still hard, three years later, and I've made it a point to see my best friends whenever I can afford it. I treasure those times, and I value prioritizing times with friends even with 1800 miles between us. We regularly skype with grandparents and try to get them out here (or us out there) as often as is financially feasible.

I daydream and 'miss' things only because they were comfortable, and I have plenty in that category: I miss powerful thunder storms that I could watch from a window or my porch, and my eyes resting on a vast expanse of sky. I miss knowing where I'm going every time I drive, not having to put effort into remembering how to get back home. I miss parking lots that have multiple ways out of them (for the love, BC, get it together!) and I miss empty isles in stores, because I still always feel like I'm in everyone's way. I miss people being friendly and acknowledging you with a slight head nod or a smile-something that only really happens I've noticed the further East you go. I miss not feeling pressured to be a dual income family.  I miss a different type of humor.  I miss driving to my friends' houses, seeing their kids, our church in Lincoln, and cheap groceries. I miss free parking. I miss good tomatoes.

I do not miss: expensive medical bills and infuriating phone calls with insurance companies who never want to pay out. I do not miss scorching summers where you go outside after a shower and you're immediately prickling with new sweat and smell. I do not miss the bugs. I do not miss camping in 100 degree weather. I do not miss seeing people I know everywhere-especially when some of them are people I'd like to avoid! I do not miss football, game day parking, or Husker red one iota. I do not miss passive aggressive and poor drivers. I do not miss being an eight-hour drive from mountains. I do not miss the bootstrap and severe individuality mentality nor  Midwestern Moralism. I do not miss getting the bird when I've legally merged.

I am slowly getting used to our new life, one that I had imagined for years but could never piece together the details of what exactly it would be like. I miss my friends, and I'm making good new ones. We are investing in our neighbors, our homeschooling and church peers, and that feels purposeful and right. Three years down, although riddled with mental and physical fatigue including stress and weight gain, I can say that I'm coming out on top for the most part. After five, ten years will I even feel the and to write out my reflections and the things I miss/don't miss about my previous life? Maybe 10, maybe not, but probably-definitely at year 5. Year 3? I still feel like a baby here. I'm still asking questions that people assume I should know, but I'm needing maps less frequently. I don't have anxiety (much) about driving into Vancouver with just my kids, and I (generally) know how to squeeze our food budget. I'm still pretty tired, but I'm waking up to stretch.


Rosanna said…
I live in Canada as well but on the Prairies. I have only been to Vancouver twice, but I sure do love the mountains. You are blessed to in such a beautiful place. Great post!

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