The Price of Loving More Than One Place

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A year ago the decision was made.

We had had just about enough of South Africa.  We were afraid for our future there, afraid of the Rand plummeting and feeling stuck, afraid of the seemingly looming electricity crisis and the ever present water shortage threats.  We talked endlessly of the crime, the gates, the fences, the police that can’t be trusted, the politicians and the omnipresent security.  We talked about the things we knew we would miss: our family, amazing friends we had made, the beaches, the wildlife, the bush, the kindness of strangers and our little house, the first home we had ever owned.  We made plans to move knowing in our hearts without a shadow of a doubt that we were making the right decision for our family.  For the girls’ future, we repeated to ourselves over and over again.

We sold our house, we gave notice at Buns’ school, we said good bye over and over and over again to the people we loved the most, the packers came and our home was empty, we stood in the middle and counted and tallied and weighed bags and told each other it was for the best.  We got on a plane, and we flew away.

We landed in NY a mere 24 hours later and everything was different.  CJ was a green card holder – our American girls were back on American soil with American opportunities and soon-to-be-had American accents.  How lucky we were!  How blessed to be able to make this fresh start!  All the freedom!  No gates!  No fences!  No fear….

But, as the days wore on and the weather cooled…as the children went back to school and the routines became ingrained, as the excitement faded and normalcy took its place, one thing became clear: no matter where you go, there you are… And there are so many things that stay the same.  The laundry still piles up and there are beds to be made, the children need lunches packed and help tying shoes.  You still go grocery shopping and try to eat healthy, try to make time to see your friends and do good in the world.  You still have to work and read bedtime stories and stress about things forgotten and if you were good enough that day…its only the peripherals that really change.  The rest is all just a trade.

We traded missing one family for missing another, missing one continent to missing another, missing milestones in here to missing milestones there….we traded fear for fear; the unknowns for the unknowable.  We traded heartbreak for heartbreak, joy for joy, and no one really wins.

Of course we knew this in theory, we had after all already made a move overseas to get to South Africa in the first place.  But just like having your heart broken once doesn’t make having it broken again any less painful, knowing something in theory doesn’t make learning it again hurt any less.

This is the price you pay.  The price for having a bigger world, and more experiences…the price for loving people in more than one place.  But I’ll tell you one thing, its a trade we do not regret.  The price is fair, the price of going is still worth paying.

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