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THOUGHTS ON LEAVING

August 20, 2010

For the first time in my long and adventure-filled life, I’m stepping into the unknown without my full confidence riding along with me.  I’m nervous.  I’m scared.  I’m emotional.  I just spent two days in the hospital.  I walked into the emergency room and said I didn’t know if I was having a heart attack or an anxiety attack.  It was up to them to figure it out.

Moving away from my family has been a passage that I’ve completed 23 times in my adult life.  I remember waking up one morning when I lived in Los Angeles and making the decision to move to New York City.  There was absolutely NO hesitation.  I just popped up in my bed, decided to move, and that was that! 

At the time I’d been a widow for one year (requisite waiting period for major decision-making).  My condo had just undergone a massive refurbishment.  My daughter was only 4 years old and not committed to her environment, but was questioning me as to why we didn’t drive a Mercedes. I had nothing to do. 

Moving seemed like a grand idea!  Besides, I told myself, I didn’t want to die without having lived in the buzziest city in the world!  New York City – I was on my way in less than three months!

Ten years later I was in the middle of packing boxes again and moving from New York to Florida.  A year of seventeen snowstorms had done me in and “quality of life” became my mantra.  It took me one month between decision-making to actually moving.

And now, here I am, ten years later (do I live my life in blocks of ten years?) moving from Florida to — Wales!  Only this time, it took almost a year of considering the move, of facing leaving my parents who live within an hour of me and are now in their late 80s.  Of leaving my only child, her husband, and my little treasures – my two grandsons.  I cry thinking about it. 

Why am I doing this?

I rationalize.  Medical care provided by the UK and my lack of medical insurance in the US is a great motivator.  Wales is close to Europe.  Wales has market towns providing fresh-from-the-ground vegetables and fruit.  Organic, farm-raised meat and eggs.  Fish drawn from local, cold water streams.  Wales is my husband’s homeland. 

I’m looking for a change of lifestyle.  But can I handle it?  I look around my home and see cardboard boxes packed with my life’s history.  Some are going to Wales.  Some are staying right here in Florida in hopes of our returning and securing a small place to “come home to.”  But my move involves more than those boxes. 

There’s no room in the boxes for my heart.  For the tears that stream down my face when I think about my daughter and grandsons and not having them ten minutes away.  There’s no room for the touch of my mother’s face as I kiss her.  There’s no room in the boxes for any regrets.  They spill out the cracks and tumble onto the floor, swimming in the pools already created by my salty tears.  What’s wrong with me?

I’ve always been an adventurer.  I drove around the world when I was 22, living in a green Land Rover and visiting countries that don’t exist anymore.  I loved Iran.  I cherished Afghanistan.  I’m glad I got to know them before the rest of the world did.

I’ve lived in a world that I created out of constant change.  I waved goodbye to my daughter when she was only six years old as she was boarding a plane to fly from New York to Portugal on a summer holiday with friends.  My mother and I followed two weeks later for our first of several trips to the magnificent Algarve.

Hawaii, Mexico, Paris, the Caribbean – they’ve all been on my travel list and never once did I leave with hesitation.  But I always came back with my dirty clothes and souvenirs.  Maybe that’s the difference this time.  I’m leaving with more than my suitcases. 

I try to look forward to this next chapter knowing that I still have a few adventures left in me.  I relish the thought of living in the Welsh countryside and knowing that Europe is only hours away.  I’m excited that friends from the US are already booking visits to our new home.  I’ve taught my grandson how to Skype. 

And that’s the rub.  My grandson.  Grandsons.  My daughter.  My parents.  If only they could – would — come with me. But Wales is my adventure, isn’t it?  Only this time – I’m leaving with a heavy heart.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. Trudi Behr permalink
    August 20, 2010 5:03 pm

    wow, Jann. You’re doing it. This was so well written. I look forward to reading of your adventures. And you know what? If it doesn’t work you can always come home. You’ll know what’s right…you always do. Hugs, T

  2. tara permalink
    August 23, 2010 1:04 pm

    This is absolutely beautiful and heart-wrenching and powerful and intimate. I thank you for writing this; it’s inspirational. I hope the move goes smoothly for you and that you know, above all, how relative (geographic) distance can be, and that no move has to be permanent.

    Love,
    Tara

  3. David DePhillips permalink
    September 17, 2010 7:50 pm

    sure glad we got to know you in the one 10yr window. Will be thinking of you and will keep your New York City alive for any quick visits you might require.

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