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ON BEING AN EX-EXPAT

November 20, 2013

For years I wrote about, dreamed about, fantasized about moving from flat, humid Florida to either the UK or France. Something propelled me, and without really thinking it through with honesty and perspective, Paul and I packed up all our cares and woes and moved to South Wales in 2010.

It was so exciting to be experiencing a new culture. The only similarity was the language, and even that had its odd phrases and misinterpretations. But after about 3 months of being on a high, ennui started to creep in. I didn’t know what was wrong with me, but something started to tap me in the gut. I internalized the growing unrest, and threw myself into this latest adventure.

My daughter wasn’t happy that I’d left. My parents weren’t happy that I’d left. To say that they didn’t speak with me for quite a while is an understatement. But after a bit of work and a lot of band aids, we worked it out. Kind of.

We traveled back to the States several times a year. I’d promised my grandsons that we’d never miss a birthday, and we didn’t. My parents both passed away within months of each other in 2011 and we were in Florida to wish them well on their journeys.  

We lived in a grand house. So many rooms that we’d Skype each other from our respective offices. We traveled. Ate at fabulous and not-so-fabulous restaurants. We went to France and did more of the same. But I came back with “Is that all there is?” ringing in my head.

I felt rootless. I cried every morning because I couldn’t reach out and touch my daughter. My grandsons were growing and I wasn’t there to exclaim. Market towns, green valleys and nine million frolicking sheep couldn’t give me what I was missing.

My husband is one-of-a-kind. If I’m not happy, he’ll do whatever it takes to make me smile again. And returning to Florida was what I needed to do. He backed me 100 percent and by January, 2013, we were on a plane for Florida. One way.

I’m still not happy being in Florida. This is the first post I’ve written since our return. My writer’s block was a brick wall. I couldn’t create words. My life as a writer dulled. Was it the disappointment that my fantasy lifestyle didn’t live up to the reality?  I don’t know.

But I DO know that words are empty compared to the hugs and kisses I get from two delicious little boys. I know that my daughter shares her life with me. I welcome her calls inviting me out to lunch. Our friends surround us, asking for assurances that we won’t leave again. My cousins and aunts telephone more than I do. Those are the reasons we’ll stay, and are the bridge between my physical and written life.

But don’t discount us leaving  — but only for a few weeks at a time. We’ll pick up where we left off and eat our way through our personal “bucket list” of fine restaurants and brilliant chefs. The saving grace?  We CAN come home again!

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. Mary Beth Halpin permalink
    November 21, 2013 12:32 pm

    Hoping you find some restaurants in the north to add to your bucket list. The B & B is open and reasonable!

  2. Pat permalink
    November 22, 2013 1:49 am

    Welcome back! To the US, to writing, to hugging little boys. We just moved across town to be five minutes away (instead of 45 minutes away) from four-year-old Henry and eighteen-month-old Archer. I know what you mean about deliciousness! Wish the other grands were this close too. But we will see them at Thanksgiving. Here’s to the moms and daughters and granddaughters who will do most of the kitchen prep work with laughter and love! Happy Thanksgiving, Jan and to everyone.

  3. November 22, 2013 12:16 pm

    Good to hear your again, Jann. Interesting that the travel bug is biting again. I’ve been to Romania and Italy many times in 2013, but 2014 is planned around my writing. Are you busy planning something? Valerie Thornhill

  4. Hope Barron permalink
    November 22, 2013 5:51 pm

    Yes, you CAN!

  5. September 1, 2014 8:10 pm

    I have been in the UK for 16 years and live near swansea. I get back to the states every two years for a month. Wife and I travel all over Europe and it works great for us. I was from Detroit so it was easy for me to leave America, not sure I ever would have left Florida… thanks for sharing.

  6. January 9, 2015 4:24 pm

    I’m delighted I came across your site and was wondering if you or any of your readers can give me some advice about recruitment in Wales. I’m working for a company that is looking to expand into Cardiff and Swansea and was wondering if anyone had any advice on the best places to advertise locally. We are looking for English speaking businessmanagers so any advice would be greatly appreciated. We’ve advertised on Linkedin and Monster.com but haven’t had much luck attracting the right applicants.

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