I know it’s been a while, and I owe you an apology for walking out on you with no explanation. It wasn’t my intention to stay away for so long. But you know how it is — stuff happened.
I’m here to tell you why I haven’t been around. My story touches on two themes familiar to expats and repats: reinvention and adaptation.
About two years ago, I finally found the courage to admit that I wasn’t happy with the direction my life was taking. I realized I had a choice to make: continue on the path of least resistance (even though it was clearly no longer working for me), or set a new course.
I opted for change.
I knew it wasn’t going to be easy. Change is messy. It rarely occurs in isolation, tending instead to seep into places you hadn’t intended it to go. Even with the best of intentions, family and friends sometimes become collateral damage. And once you set things in motion, there’s no telling where you’ll end up, because change begets more change.
That’s what happened to me. What began as a midlife tune-up took on a life of its own, knocking over everything in its path. This was a good thing, a necessary thing… but it was absolutely gruelling.
With my usual rotten timing, the need to upend my life came just days after launching the survey for my long-planned book on repatriation. I managed to continue reading through the responses of the hundreds of generous souls who shared their repat experiences with me. But reinvention is a resource-hungry endeavour, and with my attention focused on the heavy lifting of transition, my neglected book soon withered on the vine.
It was actually blogging that became the first casualty — I ran out of both time and things to say. Some months later, when I returned to school full time, it became painfully obvious that juggling work, studies, and family life was overtaxing my energy reserves. I simply had nothing left for anything outside those three priorities.
A week ago, I graduated with High Honours. The rest of my life is settling into a new normal, and although I expect to be feeling the ripples of change for some time, I’ve adapted. I’m proud of that. Now the universe is sending me signs that it’s time for me to reclaim some of the flotsam and jetsam of my previous life. In April, for example, I slipped out of class one afternoon to be interviewed by Debra Bruno, who writes for the Wall Street Journal’s Expat section. Debra’s article, “Repatriation Blues: Expats Struggle With the Dark Side of Coming Home,” perfectly captures the difficulties of re-entry, and got me thinking about my repatriation book project, gathering dust in the basement.
Two weeks ago I was interviewed by Katy Sewall, the NPR journalist who, along with her partner Tiffany Parks, explores expat and repat issues on The BitterSweet Life podcast. Reading over the notes for my book before our talk, I fell in love with the project all over again. I was so fired up that once our call was over, I opened the book file on my laptop, and picked up where I left off.
So I guess what I’m really trying to tell you is this: I’m back.