I am careful to make the distinction between my blog and my journal. my journal tends to be much more personal than "share with the whole world" type of stuff. however, this time there is really no better way to say what i want to say than share an excerpt from the ole' journal. its a bit long, but it explains everything i want to say. so here it goes...
it's peaceful here, my local park. Its a beautiful and warm sunday evening, my two loves are out for a run and here i sit with a steaming cup of tea, basking in the warm glow of the evening sun on my favourite park bench. i remember the first time that i came here, I found it quite odd to walk across the street, with tea nonetheless, simply to sit in the outdoors. but in the absence of a back garden, a park 10 meters away is the next best thing. now i find it glorious. everything about my park is peaceful and calming to me. i love that it is big enough to have swings, a play gym, 4 benches and a grassy knoll. i love that it is small enough that no matter where you sit, you can see the entire park. i love that in the far west corner is an old oak tree with so many knots, twists and cracks that i am left with the impression it was standing during the Blitz of WWII and what i see today are the remaining battle scars. I love that amid the laughing children, chirping birds and scampering of too many squirrels i can hear the trains zooming by overhead. I love that i can always faintly hear the football banter from the corner pub about 30 meters away. I love that the east side of the park borders a busy street so i am never short of people to watch. I can see my front window from my park bench. and i love that. that view makes me feel close to home. I love everything about my park.
and i wonder....will i miss these sights and sounds when i am in america and have my own private back garden? will a neighbourhood with privacy fences and big, enclosed back yards feel dull and boring to me after my years of public parks? Or will i grow to love the experience of having a cup of tea only 2 feet from the kettle, as i sit on my own patio, in my own chair, watching my own grass? soon enough i will have the answers to these questions. sooner than i was expecting.
we are leaving london in less than two months.
rhys and i have been praying earnestly about what our next step should be. we have both felt for a while that our time here was drawing to a close. we have been seeking Gods will and asking him to give us clear direction about what we should do and where we should go. Our landlord phoned us last week and said he was selling the flat. we had two months to move out. if that is not a clear sign, than i dont know what is. we are leaving london.
even though i just wrote that sentence myself, i can hardly believe it. I almost dont even want to think about it. i am over come with emotion. after 3 years, i am leaving what has become my home. i know in the grand scheme of life, 3 years is not very long. but these particular 3 years have been some of the most significant and life changing i have ever experienced. they say that the five biggest life changes are getting married, moving, having a child, losing a job/getting a new job, and a death. Aside from death, all of those things have occurred in the 3 years since i have been living in london. I moved to the UK the day after i got married. I have only ever been a wife in London. I birthed my first child here. life transformed for me in the UK; it stopped being about single Kristina and i have gradually stepped into the roles of wife and mother.
leaving london is more than simply changing a location, it is leaving my home.
we all have labels based on our life stages, student, child, boss, friend, employee, and so on. Living over here gave me a new one- ex patriot. thats a funny word, one that makes me think of a hardened criminal fleeing prosecution or an old war veteran seeking refuge on foreign soil. but ex-pat became a description of me. and while being an ex-pat, a foreigner, caused me to stand out a lot in the past years, i have also found my niche, my place to fit in. i have people i go to for a laugh, people i go to for a cry, people i can phone up for a pint, people who offer brilliant advice and people who are simply there when i need them. i have an amazing group of "mom friends", i have an incredible church, one that i am quite distraught about leaving. rhys and i have an indescribable core group of friends here that will be irreplaceable. i have my local shop, my local pub, my local rugby club....i have my life here. and it will be hard to leave.
but soon, I will pass the expat label on to rhys. i will no longer need to carry that around. i will be returning to my own country. but even though i have spent the majority of my years in america, i no longer feel like i really know how to live there. i have never been a wife or a mother anywhere else but here. and as silly as it sounds, it makes me kind of nervous. for example, i dont know about ANY baby products in america. creams, lotions, washes, diapers etc... I dont know what the best things are to buy or even where to buy them. I dont know the first thing about choosing a paediatrician. because of the NHS here in the UK, we dont actually see a doctor for e. just a 'health visitor' do i need to register with a doctor? and dont even get me started on trying to get insurance!! what about food? i am so used to eating based on the UK food market. it took me a while to get accustomed to it, but now i am so used to it that i am even nervous about what kind of food i will be able to buy. and juice. the recipes are different between the two countries, the type of food used is different because the geography is different. even the measuring system is different.
and what about the way i do life. i am used to basing my day around how long it takes me to walk places or what the train/tube time table is. but most places in the states, especially where we are moving, doesnt even have sidewalks everywhere. will i have to drive most places? is a neighbourhood the only place i will have to walk now? do people use re-usable bags at the grocery store or will i get funny looks for bringing those in? plus how do i plan meals for the week that consists of more than what i can carry back with me? so many changes. and although i am nervous, i must admit, most of those changes will make my life a lot easier.
it will be easier to have a garage and not have to carry baby, stroller, bag and umbrella down 12 steps to the main road. it will be easier to not live on a main road. it will be easier to have a dryer and a dishwasher. but i enjoy my simple life. will i come to resent the convinecencs? or will i quickly forget my experience here? I am also fearful of the familiarity that the midwest offers. since i have been writing here on my park bench 2 polish girls have come and gone, a Scottish family is playing on the gym, a muslim couple and a young girl are kicking around a ball and 3 english boys are running wild. i am worried that i will be surrounded by my fellow americans and i will lose the diversity that i love so dearly.
i could go on and on with the changes and the questions, but its all uncertainty. the only thing i know for sure right now is that my time here is drawing to a close. this chapter on my life is finishing. even though i am well aware a new chapter is beginning, it still makes this ending a sad one. I am well aware that moving to america will provide my family with more monetary and material opportunities than we could offer living in london. but the cultural and experiential opportunities that we are leaving behind are irreplaceable. europe is amazing. my head knows that america is just as amazing in its own right, but at the moment my heart is having a hard time catching up with my head. so i will give myself time to mourn and then time to rejoice.
in university i had a method of deciding whether or not i should do something. everything was rated on a scale of 1 to 5. a good memory gave you 5 points. so cost, responsibility, effectiveness, everything was weighted against whether or not a positive memory would be the outcome. if it was, then said choice was awarded a 5 and i did it. regardless. after all, a memory was worth 5 points. that is how i ended up travelling the world, going to grad school, getting tattoos etc... but i suppose that is not the most responsible way to make decisions anymore. i can not choose to stay in a place just because it is an adventure and will give me 5 memory points. I have a husband and a daughter now. it is what is best for all of us. moving really is the best choice.
so i am brought back to this, my park. now there is a young english family playing football. their youngest is about 2 and every time she tries to kick the ball, she misses badly. it is adorable. but is that what i want for my family? only a public park to share our family memories? no chance to build a tree house, or have a sand box, or be able to run through a sprinkler? no yard for snowmen, or a snow fort? or do i want something different? I will miss my park. I will miss my train zooming by, the double decker buses honking, causing the birds to scatter. I will miss having to balance my tea, books, journal and pens as i wonder over to my bench. i am nervous about the move, but at the same time a little at peace. we prayed for clear direction and that is what we got. and i will trust in the Lord who is faithful to provide, protect and guide.
"Therefore i tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat: or about your body, what you will wear. Life is more than food and the body more than clothes. Consider the raven: they neither sow nor reap, they have no storeroom or barn: yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable are you than the birds! Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? Since you can not do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest? Consider how the lilies grow. They do not labour or spin. Yet i tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. IF that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will He clothe you?...but seek His kingdom and all these things shall be added unto you" Luke 12:22-29,31
oh, by the way, we are moving to fayetteville, arkansas.