Have you ever found yourself wondering questioning the significance of an impending opportunity? When there’s something new looming, and you have that deep-down gut feeling that it’s going to turn your life on its head? It’s a difficult feeling to shake, and while you don’t necessarily want to rid yourself of the feeling altogether, you also feel like you need to maintain your grasp on reality while entertaining the notion that the future brings endless possibilities.
I grew up in comfortable, loveable, beautiful western Michigan. We’ve got 4 distinct seasons, even though some seasons outstay their welcome year after year…ahem, Winter, I’m talking to you. We have wonderful local produce, and glorious natural resources- a little bit of everything. Gorgeous sand beaches line the coast of this beautiful mitten-shaped wonderland. It’s my home and it always will be.
During the summer of 2001, I had the opportunity to travel to Spain with my high school Spanish class. Those ten days were life-changing. The world as I knew it became so much larger and complex, and I was bursting with curiosity to see and learn about as much of it as I possibly could gobble up. That is why as I try and wrap my mind around the potential transformation that 95 days in Europe may have on my life, I do so with an open heart and an open mind.
It’s hard to explain the roller coaster that this endeavor has brought to our life, and we haven’t even boarded the plane yet. We have labored tirelessly in efforts to maneuver the complicated visa process, and despite our best efforts, our efforts have not gone without lots of bumps and bruises along the way. What was originally slated to be a year-long stint in the land shaped like a boot, has subsequently morphed into a 4 month visit for Hubby, 3 of which I will be along for the ride, thanks to the powers that be who did not see fit to issue me a visa.
You might be thinking, Mandy, it’s only three months, it’s not that big of a deal, and I am inclined to agree with you. However, humor me for a moment. When we started this process and Hubby took a position with a new company, we took a leap of faith. We both jumped in with both feet and took a chance that this is the plan that God has for us, and that we needed to be open to branching out of our comfort zone and the safety of our home and life in Michigan for a while. Jumping in with both feet meant that I had to leave my really great job based on the facts that we were given at the time. Little did we know that those facts (one year in Italy, beginning in November 2013) would be so far from the actual outcome. Eight months of limbo later, and I can’t help but have some residual bitterness over some of the preventable mishaps on the part of those whose responsibility it is to relocate us smoothly, I am also thankful for the time I’ve been able to spend doing things that I love. I’ve had the chance to spend more time doing fun things with my Mom than I have since I moved out of the house when I married Michael. We worked together full time for seven years, and saw each other all the time, but it’s not the same as when you’re away from the office. I’ve also been able to spend a lot of time playing in my kitchen, reading cookbooks, taking online classes, and recipe-testing and writing blog posts. It was in some ways a frustrating time, but also a much-needed break from the grind. Many months later, it is now July 2014 and at last we have the appropriate visas for Michael, and plane tickets have finally been purchased. Yup, that’s right! We’ve got his visa, and now all we need to do is pack! Two weeks from today we will embark on our adventure and we couldn’t be more excited…and overwhelmed at the same time.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that I sort of need this to be a big deal. I need to be able to look back and know that I gave up a great job that afforded us a very comfortable living and we may have had to cut back on some things in the meantime, but in the end it was well worth it. I need to know that it’s okay that we are on the brink of turning 30, and after nearly 9 years of wedded bliss, we are still a family of two. We love our relationship, and it works for us. Even if conventional Midwest timelines would have us picking up kids from the bus stop on springtime afternoons and taking the family on day trips to the zoo during the summer. That is a stage of life that just isn’t ready for us yet, and we’re not ready for it. I have come to the point where I am fairly exasperated of feeling like I need to give an excuse for why I don’t have any children yet. People often times have a way of making women feel that if you don’t have them after a certain amount of time, then you must be either selfish, broken, or you don’t like kids. I am none of those things. I am living my life in the best way I know how, and I will not apologize for that. There are a lot of things that I might not be great at, but I can tell you one thing- my husband is my life, and being the best wife I can be is my top priority, aside from my relationship with Christ. So when people take pity on me for not having children, that’s okay, because I am okay with not having children right now. Truthfully, it does make some aspects of life easier-like being able to pick up and move to Italy without having to agonize over the affect that that big of a change might have on little ones.
Still, I have to believe that this opportunity, no matter how big or how small it may seem, is meant for us at this specific time of our life, and I have no intention of wasting it.
My hopes for our time in Europe are simple, but significant:
I want to create a memory with my husband that will last a lifetime.
I want to explore, learn, and eat my way through as many places I possibly can, all the while sharing it with my cherished blog readers.
I want to return home with an open mind as to what I should do for the next step in my “career”. The hardest part is balancing my head and my heart, and knowing what type of job to look for upon my return. Do I continue my career as a full-time dental hygienist which is a sensible choice, or do I take this opportunity for a fresh start and entertain the possibility of doing something related to my real passion- food, and of course, blogging. I hope you’ll follow along with me during my adventures in Italy and beyond. I am truly grateful for each and every person who reads, shares, or comments on my posts. You all are spectacular.