When I started dreaming about moving to Europe I did not dream about October 2011. For 31 straight days someone, and very often more than one person from our sweet little family was sick. And not “Oh I have a runny nose, I need to stay home and watch Star Wars all day.” kind of sick. I mean SICK. Weird bumps on tongues, bodies and intimate areas (I’m talking nuclear meltdown diaper rash here). Fevers, screaming, crying, and countless lengthy sleep interruptions. October also marked our daughter’s 15th straight month of NOT sleeping through the night. And for the record she doesn’t go all sweet Dr. Sears I wanna climb in your bed and cuddle at 2 AM. She parties. She jumps, sings, rolls, laughs, talks, dances and generally tries to crush any memory of our old life during her 1 – 3 hours of nocturnal antics. Alas, it felt like our little European adventure went Poseidon for 4 plus weeks straight. We went to the belly of the sinking ship and held our breath for a very long time, kicked our feet, swam like demons and cut a damn hole through the hull to escape the reality rout by October.
Yes, this sounds dramatic. And yes, sometimes I exaggerate but not this time. We can never go back there. Ever. This month got me thinking about how much happens randomly and without one’s consent. How much of the goods (or the bads) in one’s life can one ever really control? Should one even try? What I think I learned is that I have more control over a lot less than I thought and that yes, I should absolutely try to control somethings anyway.
This international adventure business is part of my DNA. My Dad, Stan Rash traveled extensively first with the US Navy and then as an oil industry executive. He lived on the sea (in ships) and overseas for years. Along with my Mom, Barbara Rash, he lived for nearly a decade in North Africa. And years later he traveled in Europe with my Stepmom, Jo Rash. It was after traveling with Jo that he talked most about the idea of living in another country and how much he loved it. Indeed, at the end of his life when the two of us spent many hours together talking about all the important stuff, he always said his one regret was not returning to live overseas. A tiny dormant seed inside my heart started to sprout roots.
Jib and I have been extremely fortunate to forge a deep and extraordinary relationship with two German friends. Maya and Roland are our German family. We choose to live in Germany because this is where Maya and Roland are. After M&R moved back to Germany from NYC in 2002 we started regularly visiting. Our friendship grew over the ocean and we spent dozens of weeks over the years vacationing together in Europe and back in NY. We spent hours and hours eating, drinking and talking. We lamented their leaving NYC, conjured up ways to get them to move back and yes, hallucinated about taking ourselves to Cologne for some extended time. Nine years slipped by. And all the while the seed grew, from roots to sapling and finally into a real live viable scenario. The move to Europe was on. And then off.
I owned two businesses, Jib had a healthy important career in the US, we owned a couple of homes, had commitments and obligations. How could we leave it all? In 2009 we decided to move anyway. We came to Cologne to find a kindergarten for Keogh and to research how to make it happen on the European end. We told some of our family and friends. The apartment wasn’t rented and our careers were not really up for supporting this kind of long distance commuting but we wanted to go and intended to figure it all out. Then the one thing that could and would hold us back happened. I became pregnant again. We briefly waffled about having the baby in Germany and in the end decided to have the baby in NY. I considered it a delay. And I was right.
The move was back on. The birth had delayed us but also allowed space for 5 major supporting factors to happen.
1. Our NY home was rented and then sold – miraculously we received an offer we couldn’t refuse and we took it.
2. One of my businesses was sold. I had received many offers over the years, but this time was different. This time I had the wisdom and ability to do what I thought was best for my family and that business. Move or not, it was time for that business to have a seismic shift.
3. Two partners and I hatched an idea to work together. They took over general operations of my second business. I became first a quiet and then a silent partner in that business.
4. Mentally and emotionally my man, Jib, and I started riding the same wave. Two minds working toward the same goal, from very different angles, turned into a potent and successful approach.
5. Our not at all insignificant financial stress got largely resolved. We were back on solid ground after more than five years of struggle due to my starting that second business.
All five scenarios were interconnected. I mean how can a couple ride the proverbial same wave when one has her head in a fledgling business and the other has his head in the decapitated bank account? A tough recipe that turned ugly many a time before we figured it all out.
So October 2011 came and went. We’re all still standing and happier than ever to be in Europe! We couldn’t control 90% of what happened last month. But it turns out we really only needed to control 10%. That bit, that 10%, got us through October. And I’m thinking it’s the 10% that got us here to begin with. I mean it wasn’t like we spent every waking moment over the last 9 years contemplating how to move to Europe. It was the 10% that did it. Now if only I could remember this the next time Poseidon strikes.