One year back.
This was me in December of 2009 in the Algarve region of Portugal. Running towards the ocean feeling truly free for the first time in my life. For the first couple weeks I woke up smiling and/or laughing – LITERALLY! I always had this dream to live in another country and I honestly never thought it would happen. But sometimes life present opportunities and you have to follow your heart. I followed my heart when I met my husband for the first time and I followed my heart when he asked me if I really wanted to make the move.
I already spent this whole blog talking about how amazing the experience was so I won’t go there again. This is a final post just to talk about life since I have been back.
It’s been a crazy year to say the least. First of all I am still waiting for my husband’s paperwork to go through so he can come home. One year without the love of your life and your best friend by your side and sometimes the pain and loneliness is unbearable. I cried my eyes out at the airport. I cried almost every night before I went to bed for a month. I stole one of his work t shirts and I slept with it next to me for the first week. That shirt has come with me to every house I have stayed in. Even now in OUR new apartment, I have it hanging on a door in the bedroom. Still has dried paint stains on it.
The first couple days I stayed with my dad and step mom and took it easy. Then I went to stay with my cousin. She was amazing. She took me everywhere. I needed to renew my license so like day 4 I was already in a DMV in NJ. Wow. I did not miss that one bit. We were there forever. By the time I got to the counter to have my photo taken I was so annoyed after one try I said “Eff it” and had them print it. It may be one of the worst pictures of me that exists on the planet. Every time I am asked to show it, I cringe. I needed to do some food shopping as well. Wow. I forgot how vast an American supermarket could be. Now there were a couple large ones in Portugal but nothing comes close to what we have here. I literally stood in the deli/veggie section just staring with my mouth open until someone banged into me and knocked me back into reality. Not only that but I had no idea how technologically advanced the supermarket had become. I had my own personal scanner to which I could scan and bag my items, go to a register, and cash myself out. Beautiful. Damn. I was gone awhile.
I wasn’t back long before Hurricane Sandy hit either. That was fun. We lost power in Montclair. Now, we did not suffer like most. I must make that very clear. But after being gone so long, coming back to a hurricane, no power, and gas lines- well that, was an experience. I had an interview that was scheduled that week too. That was obviously cancelled. But good news was that I did have the interview and I did end of getting that job. Didn’t stay there long though…. but that is another story.
I have to say when I received my first paycheck in three years, it was magical. Now, don’t get me wrong. I enjoyed having all that time off. But I also lost a part of my independence. My husband was amazing. He worked his ass off and handed the money over to me and I paid the bills and took care of shopping. But things were rough there. We did without a lot… I didn’t have any extras like I had here. It was an extremely humbling experience. That being said, when I got my first check I was jumping up and down. For the first time in years I had a decent amount of money and I could spend it all on ME! See when you’re here and in the moment and doing your thing, you take so much for granted. As Americans, this is very true. Now I am not here to judge but it is what it is. Priorities were very different living overseas.
So I bought myself clothes for work, creature comforts, paid some bills, etc. And pretty much did that over and over until I had enough money to get an apartment. It took just under a year for me to get enough money together to move. I could probably done it sooner but I like having a social life and I needed to see lots of people. Whatever. You gotz to enjoy yo’self, right?
As hard as it has been without my husband, there is one positive. For the first time in my life I did it on my own. Now of course I had help from family and friends. I will get there. But what I mean is I never lived alone. I never had to put any bills in my name. I never had to find an apartment by myself. The first time I left home I moved in with my boyfriend and his friend and then it was just me and my man and he took care of all that. Then when we broke up I went right to my husband’s place. So this was a much needed experience. Now I can say, “Yes. I lived on my own and paid my way with my money.” Even if it is short lived, I still did it. I am still doing it. And it feels wonderful. I appreciate every single thing I have so much more now.
Now back to the support. I have to say this. And I mean it. I would have never been able to do what I did and then come back with essentially nothing without the amazing people that are in my life. No way. No how. I am truly lucky and truly loved and truly blessed by the people in my life. And it hit me like a ton of bricks when I came back and was received with open arms. Not once did anyone ever make me feel bad about leaving. Not once did anyone give me shit about not thinking things out better and planning better. And maybe they wanted to. But they didn’t. Even my dad who can be my toughest critic asked me one time if I was all worth it. And was truly supportive when I said “YES!”
I don’t know if any of the people that helped me will read this. But if you do, you know who you are. You know how much I appreciate(d) it, you know I love you, and you know I would do the same for you. At least I hope you do. And I thank each and every one of you from the bottom of my heart. I could not have done this without ANY of you! Sometimes it takes going away for a while and coming back to realize how good you actually had it.
You know I was looking on my Facebook feed and I saw that a friend from Portugal posted pictures of her and her family. I don’t know why but looking at these photos caused me to be overcome with sadness and I felt a pain in my gut. And I didn’t know all of the people in the photos or where they had been taken but I was looking at their house, the way they were dressed, the names of everyone, and it was just, well, all so Portuguese! It just made me miss it very much. It is strange how looking at a photo of someone you don’t even know in their kitchen can make you feel so emotional. But it was tears of happiness. Happiness because I got to move across the Atlantic, get to know my husband’s family, meet so many new people, see so many beautiful places, learn a new language, a new culture. I mean how amazing is that? And it will be something that will make the bond between my husband and I that much stronger. We did this together. We have these memories. We have stories and memories for the rest of our lives!
But at the end of the day. It is great to be back. It has been one hell of an awesome year! I have seen so many people, done so many fun things, met so many new and AWESOME people that I can’t wait to introduce to my husband. Damn. It feels good to be back. It feels good to be me. I am lucky.
I just need my best friend, partner in crime, love of my life to return safely to our new apartment so we can begin the next chapter of our lives. Who knows what is next. I can’t wait to find out!