It wasn’t until three months into our life overseas that I realized I lived there.
Up until then, we had lived in one room in a foreign student dormitory, our two twin beds shoved together, the five suitcases we brought stacked up to the ceiling. We washed dishes in the bathtub. We turned away the maids who came to “clean” everyday (which consisted of sweeping the floor and then hosing down the entire bathroom). It felt like a long vacation in a cheap hotel.
But once it was legal for students to live off campus, we found an apartment and moved in. The first night I tried to collapse into bed (which is difficult to do on a traditional Asian bed because they have the give of a sidewalk) and I thought, “What have we done? We live in Asia.”
I had the same realization when we picked up my brother from the airport that Christmas. As I oriented him on our drive home, I was aware that I hadn’t been lying to my family all that time when I told them I’d moved overseas. Here was proof!
It’s surprising what brings those realizations to light. Getting the Florida driver’s license. Seeing hurricane alternative plans on our kids’ school schedules. Writing our address. It happened again for me yesterday as we sat next to the intracoastal waterway, looking at palm trees and boats, and I said, “Erik? We live in Orlando.”
Ethan’s been struggling with this fact slowly sinking in. Going back to school, getting involved in activities – each thing cements the truth that we live here and not there anymore. It’s an interesting part of transition, this forming of a new home, defining our new lives. It feels like each realization makes a deeper impression in the ground, marks our territory, while forcing us to let go of part of what was true before. We’re here now.