Saturday, July 2, 2011

The Next Phase

It has been just about a year since our family set out on our adventure to see more, do more and learn more. In that time, we traveled to Belize, Mexico, various regions in Spain, Italy and France (not to mention a few trips back and forth to the States) and Bill visited Amsterdam. We sold our 2 homes in Chicago and Oak Park, left everything and everyone that we knew and loved and, hand-in-hand, jumped off the cliff, having little idea what was ahead for us.

We have lived in almost primitive conditions in sweltering heat, survived a Dengue Fever scare, lovingly witnessed Bill's son marry the girl of his (and our) dreams, moved to a foreign country and became immigrants. We watched with awe as our children quickly learned to speak almost fluent Spanish (Bill and I have made some progress with our language as well), muddled our way through the Spanish public school system and learned about different cultures and ways of living. We met wonderful people from all over the world, and we saw and experienced amazing sites that opened our minds and expanded our perspectives. Our family has laughed, cried, struggled, laughed some more and survived. We have learned, expanded and grown - and we have done so because we were together.

Amidst all of this glory, however, we bid a painful farewell to my mom (Henry and Caroline's last surviving grandparent) in April and knew that our concept of "roots" had been forever altered. All four of us - and particularly Henry and Caroline - long for some structure and proximity to our family and friends. With that in mind, Bill and I have spent the past several months trying to figure out what that would look like for us - there are so many different ways to live.

In 12 days, we will again switch gears and return our family to the States. Our current plan is to explore Flagstaff, Arizona. From our research, Flagstaff seems to host many of the things that we value - climate, nature, beauty, health, education, affordability and, most importantly, closer proximity to family. Hopefully, it will work for us!

Bill, Henry, Caroline and I have spent many long hours discussing and deciding what we want our life to be; realizing along the way how fortunate we are that we have the opportunity to discuss and decide (a true gift!). Perhaps we will someday take what we have learned this year and use it to return to European life (Italy!), or perhaps we will find our peace and happiness elsewhere. Of course, we may never know if our current decision is the right one or not, but this past year has taught us (among many things) that if we are together in our focus, jumping off another cliff doesn't seem all that scary!

¡Adiós, España!