Thursday, July 2, 2009


I spent the evening with my friend Emily. She is going to Australia for a six week sabbatical with her husband and son. I will leave for Ecuador while she is away and will not see her for over a YEAR! I did not realize that 'til now. A year is very long. We will email and skype and perhaps I will return to Baltimore for a short visit at Christmas, but what will a year feel like? Who will I be in a year?

I have been saying good-bye over and over again. It was final these past few days in my office. There are people I have seen regularly for years and years and now I may never see them again. There is a finality about this move that resonates every time I say goodbye. I insist that I will be back in a year and that everything will return to normal, but perhaps I protest too much. I try to be lighthearted and positive and encouraging and happy about the move, but I am left with doubts.

I am sure that I will see Emily again. Maya and Nathan have an interesting relationship. Maya is very rambunctious when she is with him, giddy and loud and almost hysterical. This is the second time I have seen her act this way with Nathan, so when I asked her about it she admitted that she and Nathan 'really like each other'. I think that teenage years are not far away. This is her last year of single digits and she is changing day by day. When we return from Ecuador, Maya will be ten years old, and less and less the child she was. Terrifying (not that this wouldn't happen anyway but moving away makes it more momentous a change).

We will all be transformed by this experience. Eric and I expect that this year will change everything about who we are and how we live. My worry is that we cannot return to our lives here, not the physical 'here' so much as the essence of our ordinary existence. Perhaps I am making too much of this; my memory is that after my family moved away from Rome, my sisters and I struggled with the adjustment to Edmonton, and found ourselves lamenting the loss of our lives in Italy and wanting desperately to return. Monica chose to live most of her adult life in various parts of Europe and only in the last few years returned to North America; Karen left for Italy and France and has never returned, and I travel compulsively and cannot stay home for more than a few days at a time (the latter could be an entirely different phenomenon).

It is possible and preferable to look at our year away as simply a great adventure, with a return to our ordinary lives in a year with great stories to tell. Why make it more or less than that? Why worry about what I will be like in a year or how my children will be affected by the experience? It is better for all of us to simply live and appreciate our lives in Ecuador and then again when we are back in Baltimore.

My passport arrived today! Three weeks early! All that worry and changing my tickets and finding a place to live for two weeks and now I can leave in a week or two. It will be costly to change the tickets and I have enrolled Maya in another week of ballet camp and she has committed to one last violin concert, but I also know that we can always decide to cancel our plans and make the move to Ecuador anytime. I have too many choices now, sometimes it is easier not to have options, but to be obliged to choose what is most practical. I am not sure what to do now?????

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