Today is the first day of the year known as A.D. 2004. As I sit at my desk watching the grey light of Cornwall poking through the branches of the trees next door, I am struck by how much has happened this past year; nay just these last four months since we arrived in England on September 4.
Creating and writing this weblog was an attempt to document what we’ve been doing; to keep in touch with family and friends; to make some new friends along the way; and once we’d arrived at our ultimate destination, to be able to look back and remember how we got there.
But the last month has been very hard for us – and for me in particular – and because of that I haven’t felt much like writing.
After our trip to France in late November we had nothing planned until friends and family were to arrive for Christmas. And so for the first time in a long time we had a chunk of time with nothing to do but life itself.
Was it really just a year ago that we’d sold our house in Sausalito? And Sebastian had arrived in March? And we’d quit our jobs in July. And moved to England in September. Traveled to Italy in June, and again in September. And to France in November.
Followed by nothing. No plans for awhile. No projects to keep our minds occupied.
And worst of all, possibly nothing to look forward to.
Because when we looked at our finances (with the rapidly falling dollar), and compared them to the kind of life we had been hoping to live in Italy or France, we realized that we were going to have to make larger and different compromises than we’d been expecting to make. Living abroad wasn’t going to be as easy, or as possible, as we’d hoped.
And with that realization came doubts. And as the doubts grew, it got harder and harder to get out of bed in the morning. And so the month of December became for me a month of hibernation.
How appropriate. For the first time in twenty-five years, since I’d moved to California, I was living in a place where the sun doesn’t shine year round. Where the seasons are real. Where the rhythm of the earth defines what we do and how we do it. And it’s ok to just sit inside by the fire and read a book all day.
But I don’t know how to do that very well, or possibly at all. I’ve always had a job to go to. A trip planned. A project to finish. Who was I with none of those things to define me?
And then I thought about my brother Chris, with whom I have rebuilt three different houses in California. The planning phase is always fun and exciting, followed by the tear-out phase which is fast and furious – and there’s a real sense of accomplishment when the bones of the house have been exposed and there’s nothing but possibilities in the air. But then the rebuild starts, and something unexpected always happens – a foundation that needs repairing, walls that need moving, floors that can’t be saved. And when that happens reality sets in, and I grit my teeth and groan at the sky.
And each time that has happened – three times now, once for each house – my brother has looked at me and said, “Don’t worry bro’, it’s gonna get worse before it gets better.” And he’s right. It always gets worse. And it always gets better.
I like that, our life as a house construction project. We entered the planning phase while still in the States. Then we moved to England where we’ve had four months of “tear-out". And when we stopped to catch our breath, and had a moment to compare our plans with the reality of life here and our finances, December became our “gets worse” phase.
Which means that as the New Year begins, and the sun starts to reappear, and the first flowers poke up through the ground cover, our lives will be entering the “gets better” phase.
What a nice thought.
Best wishes to all of you. Please let us know how you’re doing.
Love and Hugs,
– Frank, Rachel, Nathaniel and Sebastian
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