Sunday, March 06, 2016

Big news: Amsterdam-bound

The past several months I've had this itch for change. I have moved furniture around in our house countless times-- Pippin's bunny pen has gone through at least 4-5 transformations. I think I've re-arranged the furniture in almost every room of the house at least once in the past few months (the living room got a new couch, which totally changes the look of things, though everything else is still in the same place...). I'm itching for newness, for novelty, for a change of some sort, I guess.

It's funny how I have bitched and whined about our constant moving, the lack of stability and the plethora of uncertainty, never feeling like I can plan ahead more than a year or two into the future because we never know what will come up... when we moved back to California two summers ago I swore I wanted it to be our last, that I wanted to stay put for once.

And yet, it's like there's this part of me that's thinking, "Ok, it's been close to 2 years now... it's time to shake things up... it's time for a change." It's like an internal clock going off. Have I gotten so used to all the change, that I can't settle down?

About a month ago I was out running errands on a Saturday, Zach was at home with the kids, and he sent me a text saying he'd gotten an email from work that they were looking for someone to do a 6 month transfer in Europe, and it's crazy and probably wouldn't work for us... but would we want to talk about it?

I did not expect my first reaction to be "Sweet, let's find out more!" But that's what my gut said. Where did that come from? Honestly, part of it felt like fate-- we've talked about doing a temporary transfer overseas before, but one big complicating factor had always been our pets. Six months is not long enough to justify taking them along. The thing was, that same week our friend Sasha had moved in with us. She was about to start a new job in the bay area, and she planned to stay with us for a few months while she looked for her own place.... or perhaps she could stay longer, and house/pet-sit for us. We talked it over with her and she was thrilled to help us out (and save on rent for a while longer), so Zach set the wheels in motion to explore this opportunity that landed in our laps.

The weeks since have been a whirlwind of getting our passports in order, researching offices to compare preferred locations, checking out homeschooling laws in Europe (they vary quite a bit, apparently, and yes they apply to families staying even for just 6 months), and waiting waiting waiting to see if things would actually fall into place, or if it would all fall apart.

At first I felt super excited about the whole thing-- so much so that I worried that I was conspicuously ignoring the potential negatives. Then I started waffling back and forth... I started thinking of what could go wrong. What if the boys hate it, and have a terrible time? Zach will be working long hours, will it be too difficult and too lonely if it's me and the boys on our own? Are we really up for uprooting ourselves all over again, even if it's temporarily? The timeline is short enough (and local language difficult enough) that I don't even have much of a pretense of trying to learn the local language, how much trouble will that cause? I had flashbacks/visions of standing in the aisles of supermarket unable to decipher what any of the products on the shelves actually were, or getting totally lost in a foreign city with cranky kids in tow.

But hey, it's only six months. All the cities we were considering have lots of English speakers. We will have our own home and everything here still. Worst case scenario, we cut and run early and simply return home. The risk is as minimal as it can possibly get for this kind of an adventure. I also spent some time looking back on our time in Switzerland, remembering how much we enjoyed that time, the things we still miss about it. How could we not do everything on our end to try to make this new opportunity work?

Last week we got the go-ahead that Zach was matched with the Amsterdam office. We will likely be leaving in June and staying till December. That June date feels like a long way away, but really we've only got about 3 months to prepare. I'm making my lists of to-dos-- research on things like cell phones; things to buy state-side to bring with us; contacts to make; figuring out what to pack for 6 months away from home; things I need to get done here before we leave; etc etc etc. We have our previous experience living abroad to help us know somewhat what to expect, but this will also be a totally different country, different city, and this time we have two older children coming along. Nothing is fully set in stone yet, either, so there's still a part of me wondering if we'll hit some major glitch at some point. But so far so good, I think it's really happening.

I do still want us to settle down in a permanent place. One thing that makes this adventure different, and much easier to consider, is that it is so temporary-- I don't know that we could agree to a full move overseas, or to go for a longer period of time. But a few months is doable, and it's nice knowing our "homebase" stays here and will be waiting for us upon our return. It's scary but also pretty darn exciting.

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