Expat Life · Military Life

We Moved Overseas 5 Years Ago Today

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Facebook reminded me: on this day in 2011 we boarded a plane to move to England. The photo of our pile of luggage – six massive bags high – next to baby Walden in his car seat is very blurry. So here’s the front door of our first house in England, on Blomfield Street.

It feels like something to celebrate, our anniversary of our first move overseas. It’s certainly worth reflecting on. One of my sons was born in England. Neither of my sons (now 3 and 5.5) has lived in the US for a full year straight. The past five years compared to the five before feel like a completely different lifetime. And how! The years before were pretty consistent. I worked. He deployed for part of every year. World kept spinning. Then…

Here are some stats from our past 5 years:

  • We’ve lived on foreign soil for 4 of them
  • We’ve lived in 3 countries
  • …in 4 different houses
  • We’ve lived out of suitcases and without our own furniture for 8 months (excluding travel and deployments)
  • And in a hotel or temporary lodging for 8 weeks (also excluding travel and deployments)
  • Walden has attended 3 different preschools
  • He has also crossed the Atlantic about a dozen times
  • And now speaks Italian
  • We’ve been in 10 countries as a family
  • 3 of 4 of our siblings got married while we lived overseas
  • My best friend and dad, too (not to each other, to be clear)
  • I’m getting used to (and enjoying) missing Presidential elections
  • We went to the Olympics!
  • Our kids have never celebrated the 4th of July in the US

As for the usual things you talk about when living overseas, I only miss Target a little bit now. I miss Mexcian food and Five Guys. I definitely miss drive-through ATMs. And diners, with proper breakfast, because have you ever spent a day with a child who eats only chocolate brioche for breakfast? I miss Starbucks when I want to window-shop in the cold, or on a hot un-airconditioned day when a giant iced coffee feels necessary. I miss being understood when I talk, I suppose, though sometimes it’s nice to not understand what people around me are saying. Other than family… that’s about it. Except maybe being able to take advantage of free return shipping.

To be honest (sorry, Mom), I’m kind of getting used to it. But we’ll worry about reintegration when we have to, in a couple of years when my kids will be good and confused about what it really means to be an American.

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