It has been terra incognita for our family for the past half year. We sold our home in Utah, sent Katie off to college in Missouri and moved to Tbilisi, Georgia. Each act alone a major life transition but all three in combination have provoked many hours of thought and discussion.
Several weeks ago, we spent a lot of time and effort planning and hosting a Thanksgiving meal for our friends. Away from our old home in Utah and apart from special friends who had shared the past dozen Thanksgiving holidays with us, it became very important to search out and find familiar ingredients for the occasion. In the end, we created a reasonable facsimile of a traditional American Thanksgiving meal. The act of creating and sharing the meal and the experience helped redefine who we were in spite of where we were. At the same time we were eating turkey and pumpkin pie with friends from Holland, Tajikistan, Latvia and Georgia, Katie was well cared for, happy and content, under the wing of Terry’s extended family in Missouri. We emerged from the Thanksgiving holiday, with a new sense of expectations and traditions.
As we have launched Katie off into the world, we have been and no doubt will continue to, redefining our family dynamics. The middle child is now the oldest, we may resume a one on one parenting defense, mom is the only female in the house, laundry, food and music all change and our living room is frequently filled with a collection of stinky footed teenage boys. As Katie struggled with roommate drama, getting sick without mom or dad around to consult with, and figuring out how to adjust and then succeed in a very demanding academic environment, we could only connect emotionally, not physically. She emerged from her first semester of college stronger and happy, having experienced success on many levels. At home, both boys have matured, individually, and in their relationship with us and with each other. They look out for each other more, without big sister around. For the past four months, we have been a family of four, gradually acquiring a new sense of expectations and traditions.
For the Christmas holidays, we met in Montevideo Uruguay, Katie traveling from Missouri and us from Tbilisi. We chose to return to Montevideo for many reasons, not the least of which was familiarity. Without a home in the US to return to, it felt very comfortable coming back to Uruguay. The sun is warm, the daylight hours are long, and we speak the language, know the culture, and have friends to reunite with. The kids are so happy to see their old friends in fact, that we have seen very little of them while here. My much anticipated nest full of chicks is often empty. As we gathered for Christmas Eve dinner, sitting down to a table laden with familiar and comforting foods again, Katie stated, with wisdom beyond her years, that this was our nest. Metaphorically speaking, the dining table with family gathered around was our nest. Our new reality is that we may not have a home and we may be scattered around the globe but the essence of our family remains intact.