“When I grow up, I, too, will visit faraway lands and when I grow old, I too, will live by the sea,”
Emily Freeman tells us to pay attention to what makes us cry. She writes, “…maybe our tears are tiny messengers, secret keepers of the most vulnerable kind, sent to deliver a most important message…” A message about what’s going on in our own soul.
This line from a children’s book did it for me.
Young Alice is regaled by her grandfather’s tales. His seafaring years are now behind him. He displays his treasures and carves wooden figureheads for ships in the shop he now calls home.
We too have lived in faraway lands. My four children have learned to walk on three different continents. We’ve had three different homes and six international moves in a little over eight years.
We have discovered treasures and treasured friendships. We’ve learned languages and customs. And we’ve collected tales of adventure and mishap.
In the past few months, something has changed. The sight of a back yard swing, pool table, tree house, fire-pit – it all fills me with a bit of an ache.
It’s not homesickness. It’s different than that. It’s a longing to make a home with a longer view. One that doesn’t fit in ten suitcases. And project a mild sense of living in a hotel.
Is that the message in my tears? I’m ready for less packing and planning and paperwork. More hanging photos and hanging out. Fewer introductions and more of the familiar.
We have not counted this hardship – this moving from continent to continent. It has been a rich opportunity. We have thrived on this ex-pat life.
But that doesn’t mean it is easy.
We are committed to community wherever we are. We get to know our neighbors, local and ex-pat. We invest and strive to be present wherever we call home. But it’s done knowing that we will be leaving. It’s just a matter of time.
It’s a running joke that our only hobby is relocation. We have no time for other hobbies.
This is not an exaggeration. Our annual home visit, there and back, eats up 60-80 hours in travel time alone. (And don’t tell me to do work on the plane. I have a toddler and three more kids.) Then there are the packing, planning, government offices, language learning, getting your bearings in a new place. All these things take time!
Every new place brings with it a whole lot of new: schools, roads, social norms, kitchen layouts, food selection, house help (or not), church, activities, schedules.
Let me tell you, we expats know decision fatigue!
And I’m ready for a change of season.
Tsh Oxenreider explores the tension between homebodiness and wanderlust. She suggests both come from the same place – a yearning for the ideal. I buy that. That addresses motivation.
I’m thinking about timing. Like so many things in life, perhaps homebodiness and wanderlust each have their season.
“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven… a time to plant and a time to uproot.” Ecclesiastes 3:1-2
A time to put down roots.
It feels like time to drop anchor for awhile. That is what those tears are telling me.
How do you know when it’s time for a change of season? Have you experienced wanderlust or homebodiness in this way?