My time living abroad is coming to an end. The countdown is officially on and our move date is approaching rapidly. This week, all of our belongings were packed by our movers and loaded in a container to start their 4-6 week sea journey. In four days, I will wake up one morning in Europe, board a plane, and go to sleep that night in America. Leaving home, going home.
As we spent most of this week dealing with the crazy, logistical, physical process of moving our things, I started to keep track of my random thoughts on the process of moving so that I could share them here. Here they are:
- Preparing for professional movers to pack our things perfectly utilizes my love for organization, Post-It Notes, and Sharpies.
- No matter how clean you think your house is, it is not. And the more you pack and move around, the more you realize this. Go ahead, move any piece of your furniture that has been in place for three+ years and look behind and underneath it, I’ll wait.
- We own too much stuff.
- We don’t really need that stuff to survive. We will live the next week or so out of 6 suitcases, with literally everything that is important or truly valuable to us in hand. The rest is extra and brings us comfort and joy, but this certainly puts things into perspective.
- On a three day pack, around mid-afternoon on the second day, you can feel the tides turn and the movers start to hate you more and more with every drawer or cabinet they open and find full of all the aforementioned “too much stuff.”
- They will eventually love you again if you feed them and tip them and give them first dibs on all the stuff you aren’t taking with you and need to get rid of.
- You can find a new home for almost anything and everything if you are willing to re-home it for free.
- The stress and the busyness of doing all this preparing and packing and cleaning and turning on and off of services, etc. is a very good distraction from any real emotions I am feeling about the move. I’ve teared up a little during a few goodbyes, but haven’t cried nearly as much as I expected. I am waiting to see when those tears will come, probably when I least expect them.
This moment in our lives is bittersweet. To quote a Kacey Musgraves song, we are feeling “happy and sad at the same time.”
My family’s experience living abroad has been incredibly positive overall. We have settled in and become comfortable here, with a good quality of life and happiness. That is not to say we weren’t happy with our lives before this move, we were sad to leave then, too, and we are happy to get home to be closer to family, friends, and our native culture, but with any change of routine comes discomfort, sadness, and fear.
My hope for our final few days of living in Belgium is that we can soak in this place we have grown to love as much as possible, give ourselves permission to feel all the feelings and work through them, and them move on to embrace this next phase of our lives with as much excitement and enthusiasm as we did during our three and 1/2 years living here.