Every day our lives are filled with choices. The black shoes or the brown? Peanut butter or turkey? The highway or the back roads? Go to the gym or eat that ice cream? Down to the simplest things. And where there is choice there is always a consequence. Consequences can be both good and bad as a result of the choices we make.
Josh and I made the choice to move to Barcelona. We did this for several reasons – a change to the routine in our lives, new experiences and challenges, new job opportunities, and most importantly, for our kids to grow up with a perspective that very few ever get to experience. And with that there have to be consequences and never are they more obvious than when we are getting ready for a trip back to the US.
As the kids and I prepare for our annual trip home to Boston, we talk more and more about what we want to do when we are “home, home” and who we want to see. But I’ve noticed more of late that this conversation is primarily with Aidan and I, not with Liam. It’s not that Liam isn’t trying to participate, it’s that he can’t. We made the choice to move to Barcelona when Liam was only 2 1/2 years old – he has lived here more than half of his life, longer than he ever lived in the US. He has little to no memory of his life before Barcelona.
We constantly show him pictures. We talk about family and friends. There are some he remembers and many that he doesn’t. And it saddens me. He doesn’t remember our house or our neighborhood. While Bost-y (which is what he’s calling it these days as everything must end in an “y/ie”) is home to him, Barcelona is actually “home, home”. Consequences to our choices – our child has no memory of what Josh and I would call home. Do we have regrets? No, I don’t think we have regrets. It makes me sad that he doesn’t have these memories or relationships but instead, he’s had the Europe as his playground. He’s made friends from all over the world, many of which he will hopefully have for life. My hope is that someday when we are settled back in Boston that he will make new, special memories of a place that he knew about but didn’t really remember at one point in his life.
The same choice of us moving to Barcelona 3 1/2 years ago has impacted other relationships as well, both in good and bad ways. I’ve seen some friendships just dissipate as time has gone on – out of sight, out of mind. Some I expected, others I did not and I feel the pain of the loss of those but maybe they weren’t meant to be. Others have become stronger. Some have stayed the same. We took a risk when coming here that not all would necessarily stay the same back home and it’s true. Things have changed.
While I don’t regret much, this I do – I know that our choice to move here has meant that the kids are missing out on important time with our family. They are the only grandchildren and our parents won’t be around forever. Our siblings are missing out on time with their nephews. I wish that they have more than just a few days per year with their grandparents. I know this would be similar if we lived in California so it’s not just a move to Europe thing, but a distance one – but it’s still a choice we made that has changed that bond. Yes, the kids still get along wonderfully with our families – but there is something about spending time with them that is extra special. Maybe being away with strengthen that bond because we all have to work harder for it, but the point is, it is time lost that we can never get back. A choice.
Aidan has grown so much in the last 6 months alone – maybe it’s his age or maybe it’s his environment, or maybe it’s a combination of them both. This one thing makes this choice to move here worth it. Would he have grown at home? Of course, but I don’t know that he would have made the choices that he’s made of late or that he would have been mature enough. He’s been able to spread his wings a little differently here than he would have at home. He’s fast becoming bi-lingual and is confident in his own skin – something I’m incredibly proud of.
But the choices we’ve made aren’t just related to the kids. Josh took a chance coming here. He left the comfort of a position he had held in the home office for years, but it was an opportunity for him to take on new challenges with work, an opportunity that I don’t believe he regrets for one moment. And while there have been several ex-pats that have gone back to the US office, the transition has not been successful for all, something that we knew was a risk before we came here. But we made a choice that it will be worth it, no matter the outcome. It’s a gamble on our future but Josh has worked hard to get to where he is today, incredibly hard and the hope is that it will be worth that choice we made.
There are times when you cannot predict just how significant the consequences will be on any choice you make moving forward. We are forever changed by our choice to live a life less ordinary but yet we live this life in limbo of our “other” life, not fully belonging to either and not knowing if we ever will again.
Again, do we have regrets? Well I think it depends on the day. As we get closer to our trip back home, I feel lost. Not sure where many of my relationships stand, hoping that things will be just as they were before we left to take on this new adventure but knowing realistically that much will never truly be the same.
Today though, I will make more choices, just like I do every day. And while the choices today won’t be of any significant consequence like moving to Barcelona was but those choices will still shape who we are and who we are destined to become. And I, for one, can’t wait to see what’s next.