What do I have to show for it?
Thank you for this exquisite piece of writing, which I know I'll savor many times. My husband and I also arrived in Portugal having never set foot here, to the horror or amazement of many. Reading some of your experiences made me pump my fist in agreement. YES! She gets it! Other times, my age and stage of life give me a different perspective. But we are both strangers in a strange land. I'll enjoy reading your story for as long as you wish to share it.
I’m so grateful to have found your blog. Wise, comforting and perceptive words to inspire those who wish to do just what you’ve done.
My husband and I are just wrapping up a 9 month road trip around America and it’s become clear that it’s our Farewell Tour. I feel nothing but dread about the future of this country. After the latest unimaginable- anywhere-but-here school shooting horror we’re done. What you wrote about not having to be right in the midst of the news cycle here really resonated.
Will now go back to your first post and learn how you came to this wonderful milestone in your life. Thank you.
I appreciated Lori’s comments, as we did a huge move (from the Chicago area to SoCal in Feb ‘21) - what evolved from being the realization of a long-held dream - to a complex move. (or other C-word? Confusing, complicated, and eventually forced-catalytic) It was one thing to visit a spot for multiple vacations and yet another for full-time living. After a sizzling year in the desert with a non-work-horse airport for biz travel, we moved to the SoCal coast nearly 3 mos ago (and five days after our move we suddenly had to put our beloved dog to sleep. Sigh.)
We wonder, albeit naively:
•How can we move to a sophisticated part of America and find ourselves not knowing the language?
•Ummm WHY did we do this huge thing? Is “for a jolt,” reasonable? And what if the jolt is unkind?
• How much investigating did we really do regarding our expectations…beyond “happiness.” Thus, in the Notes on my phone there’s now a tab called “Next Place Values.”
Something we have truly appreciated is the expansion of our world: living in a gay community in the desert, driving from here to there through forced Indian Reservations, working with a Native American, interacting more regularly with brown people, learning whole-earth practices. On the other side we are now living amidst pretentious wealth and celebrity. Wherever we go next, we will take a bigger “us.” (Along w/ the understanding that you can’t unknow what you now know. Ohhh boy.)
Transformation has been obvious personally, as a couple, spiritually. But at a cost: there are days … when I muse about what would be like to live back at our former Midwestern address…and be stupid. 🤷🏻♀️
As Lori commented: very therapeutic to read these blogs and the comments from others who have done a huge thing. Thank you!
“and I am filled with profound relief and a sober sense of gratitude...”. You know the best part? It keeps getting better 🤫. I read the Washington post less and less (yet I still care), and my concern is now for different things, some may say more mundane, but they are important to me! The old saying about living in the moment…my moments are so much more fulfilling here. You will get to your book (at least that’s what I tell myself 🤪), when you are ready and it’s time 💕. Meanwhile, enjoy the slow ride!
Obrigado! Wonderfully introspective and authentic; and beautifully expressed. This has indeed been bookmarked so that I can re-read at my own 6 month and 1 year anniversary.
Thank you for sharing. My husband, pooch and I are 8 months in to our new life in France. I relate to your experiences, feelings and observations. So very well written. Inspiration to put my own experience into words as it's so important to process and remember.
Thank you for taking on the soul-searching for me. I suspect that you have also experienced (if not learned) the Portuguese sentiment of saudade. Following two renewals of our original SEF-granted residency, we are looking forward -- soon -- to receiving our permanent residency ... and then applying for citizenship.
We left the US in March, 2021, and my thoughts are still in a bit of turmoil over this huge thing we did, why we did it, and what the results have been thus far. Still a bit shocked, honestly, by all that has happened...nothing has been easy, and some things have been so much harder than I ever anticipated (for example, school issues here too...with both of my kids). Anyway, I keep trying to force all of my thoughts into tidy little conclusory snippets so that everything lost and left in the US, and every new thing found in Europe, makes me feel like it is all part of this better, safer, more amazing life we have created...but that is just delusional. It is all so very complicated. Thanks for sharing your experience- it is strangely therapeutic for me to read about the experiences of others who have done a similar huge thing :-)
Beautiful essay! If I were making a list about how I've changed, I would add: I realize I'm a guest and I act like one. ...Most of the time. I still occasionally have entitled meltdowns (usually with American customer service), but more of the time I recognize that being here is a privilege, not a right. I feel broader about that "guesthoodness:" I'm not only Portugal's guest, but Europe's guest. Heck when it comes down to it, I'm this planet's guest. That perspective makes me notice what's being done to welcome me, to support me, to include me...and I just want to reciprocate.
Do you have a mailing list, LaDonna? I'd love to be added!
Thanks for this. My wife and I moved to Portugal from San Francisco 3 months before you (March 2021) and took a similar road. We bought a house remotely in 2020. We got our Portuguese drivers licenses, our titulo de residencia (if you have a US motorcycle license you can exchange it as long as your doctor gives you an A rating within one year). Life in semi-rural central Portugal is a world away from life on Divisadero Street. I've learned much of all 6 of your first list, starting with patience. I'm slowly picking up Portuguese as few in my area speak English. Different life, no regrets. So lucky to be here.
Beautiful article. Thank you.
Excellent I posted this on the American and Friends group on PT.
You are able to put into words the thoughts and feelings that I am unable to. Thank you for helping me put my thoughts into words to share with people who don't understand my desire to experience this change
we begin our own move to Denmark in just under two weeks, and reading your writing and musings, I find myself fervently hopeful to feel my shoulders relax. The high school next to our son's elementary experienced that only in America threat just a week ago, and I have been counting the days till the end of school since. I look forward to a place where I might breathe and not be defined by "What I do for a living".
Really enjoyed these words. Motivates me on so many levels. Obrigado!
That was fantastic! Thank you so much for sharing.