The End of an Era
My hubby is now in his 13th season as a professional basketball player. I have been overseas with him for all but 3 of those years, making this my 10th season abroad. His first year overseas was my last year of law school. It was tough being apart, especially because we had just had our first baby and it was difficult navigating mommy hood while trying not to miss a beat with school, and then with studying for the NY bar exam. The minute my hellish summer of Bar prep was over, I ran to Italy as fast as I could, and we enjoyed an amazing year exploring Cantu and Milan. When I found out that I passed the bar, I decided that I would return home after the season and put my law degree to use.
After two years, however, I longed for our family to be together, and with our second child on the way, I decided that work could wait, and my growing family was more important. So 4 kids, a dog baby, and 7 countries later, here we are.
Every year for the past few years, the hubs and I discuss his future, and what the future holds for all of us. The golden question is inevitably asked by me and by various family members and friends: how much longer do you see yourself playing basketball? Now, he may look like a snack, but at 35 he has certainly reached the age where many players, especially bigs (centers/forwards) have already stopped playing and have moved onto life after basketball. But every year his answer is a solid “I feel like I have another year or two in me.” Every year. For like 5 years.
So one can imagine my frustration at the lack of clarity on this point. It’s difficult to plan ahead for life after basketball, when it appears that life after basketball will never come to fruition!
But alas, I’ve finally reached the point where, with or without him, I’m ready to pack it up and re-start life in the U.S. of A. I yearn to work again; to leave the house and actually have somewhere to go; to have conversations, not only with adults, but also with English speakers. I struggle every day with my grasp of the Spanish language, and despite my Puerto Rican roots, learning Spanish the Argentinian way has been nothing short of a mess. I have learned a good deal, don’t get me wrong, but I don’t think anyone would be impressed with my multiple accented, Spanglish skills. So I’m definitely excited about the prospect of not struggling in my day to day activities.
I look forward to being able to fully communicate with teachers at school, and not struggle to understand, and then explain, homework assignments. I’m also excited at the thought of the kids being in school for more than 3-4 hours a day, and no more home schooling!!! This mama is exhausted, and I’ve never been more excited to have someone else teach my children, in English at that.
But perhaps most of all, I want to eat ALL THE FOOD! I yearn to eat authentic sushi and Mexican, instead of what we get out here, which always seems to miss the mark, if even available. For someone who does not eat meat, living in a meat centric society has been hard for me. If I want something that doesn’t include a grilled meat, I have to make it myself, which means that I spend many hours in the kitchen and quite frankly, I’m ready for some take out in my life. My dreams are filled with dancing burritos from Chipotle, Hale and Hearty soups, poke bowls, crab legs, and huge make-your-own salads. Honestly, I can barely finish this paragraph, now that I’ve made myself ridiculously hungry, and sad, at the same time!
Despite my excitement at what lies ahead as I leave the expat life behind, it is certainly bittersweet as I think back on this amazing journey we’ve had. My kids have lived in 7 countries, and have gone to school in 5 of them. We have all learned, and forgotten, multiple languages (German, Turkish, and French). Our kids have discovered a love for both football (soccer) and basketball, and have been able to hone their skills for free. We have made friends in each country, created lasting memories, and had all types of adventures that have surely enriched our lives.
We’ve also had hard times, like having to switch teams and countries mid season, losing our precious dog baby, Bella, and my misfortune at being attacked by a pack of dogs. We’ve also experienced culture shock, and had to have some serious discussions about cultural differences when our son was teased because of the braids in his hair, or even just explaining why we are being constantly stared at, regardless of the country. Still, these past 13 years have been nothing short of extraordinary, and if I had to do it all over, I absolutely would.
So as I reflect on this time, I’m sad to see this chapter close, but I’m looking forward to what life in America will look like for us. Despite the obvious, in that I will miss my husband, I’m comforted by the fact that it will be a semi-gradual withdrawal, as we will still be able to spend our vacations overseas and will still have a connection abroad, for as long as he chooses to play. I’m hopeful that, despite us being out of the American loop, we have so much experience with change and with assimilating to new environments, that our transition back to American society will be a seamless one. Wish us luck!!!
(P.S. I’ll have to make a separate post of my favorite memories over the years, but these are a few that I love.)