Six months….that’s when the magic began.
Knock, knock. Who’s there? Your cancelled visa and repatriation plane ticket.
Nine months ago, HH (handsome hubby) and I repatriated to the USA. After four magical years in Abu Dhabi, UAE, we put our worldly possessions into 32 boxes and prayed for them to end up on land, not at the bottom of the ocean. We gifted our plants, dishes, anything with a plug, and all food stuffs from the cupboards and fridge to friends and building staff. Attending “good-bye” parties and luncheons reminded me of loss and new adventures. I chose to say the Hawaiian phrase, “A hui hou” which means “until we meet again,” rather than “bye.” I know I will see my dear friends again, somewhere in this world. Enter air travel.
Our physical process began in Dallas, Texas, our city of birth, to visit friends and family, celebrate Thanksgiving, and witness the outcome of the presidential election. We scoured our parents’ homes for dishes, pots, pans, electric appliances and a bicycle for our new place. HH put the finishing touches on our move, and our U-Haul truck was packed and ready for our 2-day road trip to our new life adventure.
Arriving the last week of December, our new “home” rolled out the welcome mat: snow, icicles, rain and wind. Please note: We’ve lived on a coast for the past thirty-two years, so this was quite a change. I was chary to move to a cold climate, but my mother and MIL gifted me with heavy coats, so I was prepared. Here we are: inland, near St. Louis, Missouri, our fifth state in the US to call home, and we know no one. HH has a new job replete with co-workers, tasks and a strategy for upward mobility. Voilà, my work: make friends, learn my way around, stop whimpering. A fellow adventurer said to me, “Your world has shifted; and you are reminded of loss. Natural for us. Embrace the feelings, then move on. You must acknowledge what happened, but not let it rule you.”
Months one through six are now a blur, yet a plethora of NDBs (never done before) and tuition (learning experiences as we call them). As Deepak Chopra said, “You must find the place inside yourself where nothing is impossible.” In February, I learned the best place to buy flowers and balloons for Valentines’ Day. In March, I bought a car and a gym membership. (I call it “adult day camp.”) We filled April through July with county fairs, meeting a bald eagle, a street parade, a winery, a St. Louis Cardinals baseball game, a distillery tour, several theatre productions, and many beautiful sunsets.
In my recent former life, I played Mah jongg weekly, organized entertainment bi-monthly for an expat group of over 200 women, hosted a weekly Happy Hour, and participated in a monthly Film Club. My new life is comprised of the gym, grocery stores, exploring surrounding cities, and then back home. HH and I explore out of our county on weekends. We’ve enjoyed Augusta, Washington, and Troy, Missouri. We also went to Indiana for a weekend trip and Illinois for dinner.
I have learned so much in a short time. Similar to Jonathan Livingston Seagull, I am a different gull now. Today, I choose to be grateful for everything: sunny days, budding friendships, and travel plans. I set an intention each morning and write down three gratitudes each evenings. Intentions are like magnets; the more we declare them, believe in them and act in ways to manifest them, the more powerful and real they become. According to Amit Amin,“By taking the time to consciously express gratitude, we remember what we already have in our lives, and things we should be grateful and happy for.”
Lily Pulitzer said, “ Being happy never goes out of style.” So, eight full months later, I don’t weep daily; I use every form of social communication to stay in touch and up-to-date with my friends from my former cities, states and countries; our new home is unpacked (except for the boxes of wedding china and childhood photos), decorated and clean (I just bought a new Hoover.)
Moves are challenging, but as an adventurer, I am equipped to handle it. How do I know that? My HH and I have abundant curiosity, which is key to moving and living in other places. Tips: Smile. Set up a coffee date. Go to a museum, festival, faire, park, walking/hiking trail, or theatre. Find an arena football game to enjoy with a fellow adventurer. Read between the lines when you talk to new people: they may describe emotions you are familiar with. You can be the one who helps them, and in turn, helping yourself. It’s a big, colorful world….explore and enjoy it. Be so happy that when others look at you, they become happy too. I recently visited friends in Anchorage, Alaska and Ottawa, Canada. I have plans to see other friends in Nashville, TN and Costa Mesa, CA later this year. Those trips are therapy for me, and fill my heart with love, support, gratitude and joy.
Finally, share your story. It will delight and inspire others. We are all amazing, resilient, extraordinary people. Poof, let the magic of your new place begin, and bloom where you are planted.