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Thursday, February 28, 2013

thankful thursday: friends


While Mr. F and I were waiting at the Frankfurt airport, noshing on brotchen and delicious brie sandwiches, we started talking about what was happening.  Where we were going, where we had been, and we realized how quickly move of ours took place. From layoff to to take off was two weeks and two days.  Two weeks!  What had felt like an eternity to us as we were waiting for information to come in was really a blick of an eye.  A nanosecond in which, somehow, we packed up our whole lives in Cyprus and returned home.

The incredible success of our whirlwind move is due in large part to the help of our friends.  The packed boxes, fed us, gave us places to stay, listened to all of our concerns, and helped us sort out the nitty gritties.  A few nights before we left, we were able to say goodbye to a few of these wonderful people at an impromptu party.  With just a day's notice, a houseful of friends came by to wish us luck and exchange a few last hugs.  I was overwhelmed by how many people came, not realizing before the deep roots we had planted in Cyprus.

Friendship is an amazing thing as an expat.  It's not just friendship, it's family.  Your support system, playmates, confidantes, and allies, friends are what make your experience abroad into something more than pictures of ruins.  I have learned so much from these friendships and will carry them with me where ever life takes me next.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

transitioning


I never thought I would be so proud of sleeping in till five.  Yes, five, my friends, is sleeping in.  Nor did I ever think I would get so excited over the poultry aisle at the supermarket or gas being $3.85 a gallon.  Being able to say, "Good morning," rather than "Kalimera!"  Not needing google translate to work with the bank teller.  Flushing toilet paper down the drain, not waiting an hour for water to heat up so I can take a shower.  I never expected any of these things to be so exciting.  But then again, I never thought I would spend the first two years of marriage as an expat, let alone have the opportunity to live in Cyprus. 

Before the move, I was waking up well before five.  I would drag my exhausted body out to the sofa and curl up to watch the colors of the sky shift from dark shadow to a golden translucence. Those early hours were for me and me alone.  I find myself embracing a similar pattern now that we are Stateside again.  Long before dawn, I gingerly climb out of bed and claim one of the sofas in the house.  I rifle through emails still sailing in from the other side of the world and then just listen. 

 These hours before anyone else is awake is my chance to process, well, everything.  Loss of home, loss of stability, change of location, loss of friends, lifestyle, addition of family, change in climate...on and on the list goes.  Before we left, my sole focus was on getting us home, now that we're here, I'm forced to face the looming questions.  What next?  Where do we go next?  What do I do next?  Where do we live?  Who do we interact with?  What now?  This morning as I write, I realize for the first time that I don't need to have the answers to these questions. Not yet.  I can muddle through a little longer and take things on a day at a time.  We're only four days into this new adventure.  Now is the time for an open mind, a hopeful heart, and a lot of faith.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

moving day

I woke up crazy early this morning, like three.  I was so anxious about today, making sure I packed everything that needed packing, wrapped everything that needed wrapping, and just generally didn't forget anything.  With great force, I slept until six, when I began taping up the last boxes in preparation for The Great Departure.  By eight, Mr. F was up and we were pretty much done.  We had time to go for a short drive and get cokes.  

For the past two weeks, I've been thinking I would be sad the day our stuff disappeared.  Let me tell you, I am anything but sad.  Relieved, excited, exhausted...mainly relieved.  In two short weeks we packed up our entire apartment, arranged an international move, sold our car, sold our mattress, donated our food storage, and a great many other things.  By the time the movers came, I was so excited for the boxes to be gone.

We leave on Friday morning, giving us tomorrow to tie up loose ends.  As the movers drive the van away, I'm laying on the sofa with a head full of naps rather than cleaning.  We'll finish everything else tomorrow.  Today, we celebrate everything we've accomplished in two weeks and we nap.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

adieu to mortimer


Mortimer den Tredje, my beautiful Christmas Cactus, committed suicide today and it was a blessed relief.  I had moved all of the plants out onto the patio until I can give them to my friends for safekeeping.  Mortimer was placed on a ledge with the others and when a gale burst through, toppled the three stories down to his concrete sidewalk doom.  I love that cactus dearly, but seeing him on the sidewalk, broken and shriveled relieved me of some of the responsibility currently placed on me.  I no longer need to find a home for Mortimer.  

As I tossed the cactus very unceremoniously into the dumpster, the full weight of an international move struck me.  No transplantation of beloved shrubs, no hoard of canned peppers, no furniture...  So much of your life on one continent must be forsaken in an effort to get through customs.  It's so odd to me..  I can't take my hairdryer, because it won't work at home.  Nor will my glue gun, oscillating fans, or lamps.  They all must be left.  The car cannot be shipped, bank accounts must be closed as currencies will no longer be the same.  We have to sell our mattress, as the measurements of it do not coincide with American beds.  Our sofa and table won't fit in the shipment halfway across the world.  We leave with almost exactly the same items we initially brought, with very few exceptions.  Very few..

I think Mortimer got the easy way out.  To everyone else it probably seems like we are leaving in haste, but to Mr. F and me, this move is progressing with the cumbersome, heavy pace of an iceberg pushing its way through the frozen ocean.  Ever so slowly our path home is being paved, but it feels like there are more obstacles than we know what to do with.  All we want, at this point, is to be home. Mortimer, I think, knew he had to go somewhere else and didn't want to deal with the hassle.  I can't say that I blame him..

.....

written on Friday, 15 February

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

things I'm secretly going to miss


Mr. F and I have been consoling ourselves this last week by delighting over things waiting for us back in the States.  McDonald's breakfast, Target, clothes that fit us, bookstores, Jeni's Ice Cream, slurpees, Costco...okay, so it's mainly food related, but you get the idea.  This little technique has worked well enough that I'm now just getting anxious to go home.  I'm ready to hug family and have mail reach them within the week.

I've also been pondering what I will miss about Cyprus.  As crazy as it might sound, one of the things I most lament is that I won't be on the opposite side of the world anymore.  I liked waking up on November 7th and listening to live news coverage as election results came in rather than staying up through the night.  I love phone calls at eight in the morning from my brother because he knows I'm the only one awake and just has to talk to someone about his awesome date.  Emails from my mom when she can't sleep.  It sounds so strange, but being so far away has enabled me to be available for friends and family who might otherwise not have had anyone.

Then there's fruit trees and walking across the border.  An abundance of dried fruit, halloumi, Greek...everything, church bells ringing in the morning and minarets sounding whenever they want.  Driving on the left, pita bread, bakeries everywhere...and so much more.

Monday, February 11, 2013

cyprus monday: framing

On my "to do before we move" list was something rather unorthodox: get a few pieces framed.  This seems like something that could wait, especially given our now hasty departure from the island.  My urgency  for it, however, stemmed from the unbelievably low cost of the work.

Before we moved to Cyprus, I got this piece framed.  I splurged because it is a family heirloom and in delicate condition.  Had it not been for that, I would have waited and tried to jimmy rig something myself.  After some winking and schmoozing, the final cost was about $300.  I still get nauseous thinking about spending that much money on a framing job.

Fast forward to this morning when I picked up 3, count them 3, pieces of art from the frame shop.  The grand total was 70 euro, or about $90.  Each of the pieces I took in was a funny shape needing a custom frame.  Trust me, I tried to find a solution on my own.  Nothing was fitting or working.  Now, they are framed beautifully, preserving memories from our time here.  On top of that, I picked up the three pieces pictured above for a whopping total of 44 euros, already framed.  I did a serious happy dance walking out of the shop.  The only sad part of the day was wrapping them up and sticking them in a box until further notice.  Someday we will have some rockin awesome art to display!

.....

On a side note, thank you to everyone for your notes, prayers, and messages this last week.  Saturday night and early Sunday morning were a definite low point for both of us.  While we still don't have any more answers, Monday brought all the hope I could have asked for.  Sometime in the next week or so, we will be back in the States, our apartment here packed up, and Cyprus a loving memory.  And that is more than okay.  I am learning a lot from this experience and hope to have time to share stories with you in the future.  For now just know that all is well, all is well...

Sunday, February 10, 2013

step 2


Well, we've officially moved into the "anger" portion of the grieving process.  After a few days of numbness, now we're just mad.  At unemployment, moving companies, limited resources, lack of time, exhaustion, not knowing what's coming next, a serious hitch to our plans.  We're just frustrated now.

Last night I went for a drive by myself.  Just long enough for me to scream into the heavens my fears through gasping sobs.  "I CAN'T DO THIS!" I yelled repeatedly, "I CAN'T! I don't know what I'm doing."  I don't.  I wake up in the morning, content for the two seconds before I realize my life has just been flipped upside down.   Then the rest of the day is spent in a haze of (usually) quiet grief and confusion.  "I'm trying to be faithful and understand Your plan for us right now but I don't know what I'm doing..."  I screamed and cried until my vision was so blurry from a blinding headache that I had to go home.  No more tears that night.  

I'm so overwhelmed right now.  I get emails all day long, from people wanting to buy Peggy Sue, family wanting to know plans, friends wanting to help.  I'm sending out emails to moving companies, trying to figure out how to get our stuff home "affordably" and quickly.

All I want to do is lay on the sofa.

Tomorrow is Monday.  Hopefully we will have more answers as we hear back from more moving companies.  Hopefully we can set a date for departure.  Hopefully...tomorrow...

But today?  I'm still just mad.

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

it's a God thing


It seems to be that as soon as I am feeling content somewhere, my Father in Heaven says, "Good.  Now I want you to try something new."  From Utah to Columbus to Florida to Germany to Cyprus, these past five years have seen me living in more places I ever thought I would.  And apparently it's time to move again.

Mr. F no longer has a job here and we find ourselves packing up and heading back to the motherland.  I so desperately wish I could explain in whole what I am feeling about this.  It is relief, heartbreak, sadness, stress, excitement, gratitude, and exhaustion.  My head still hasn't wrapped itself around the idea that it's time to go and within a matter of weeks.  This is our home.  It is where I imagined us having our first child, where we are deeply connected to our church community.  It's where we bought our first piece of furniture together and learned how to be a married couple.  My heart physically hurts from the idea of leaving my home.

At the same time, we're going home. We'll be able to go to family weddings this summer and use the crib in my mom's attic for our future baby.  It's the land of Target and the Salvation Army.  There are jobs aplenty, if we look in the right places.  And it's where we always wanted to end up.

Just not yet.

I couldn't sleep at all last night.  At all.  I watched Mr. F fall asleep then wandered out to our sofa and watched the night drift into dawn through the window.  I grieved over the brevity of our time here.  I love this island, I really do.  But peace came and a deep sense and eventual knowledge that this is God's doing.  Knowing that somehow makes this all easier.  Knowing that He wants and needs us somewhere else reassures me that we will find another position and try to set up roots again.  It assures me that our church community here will not be forsaken when we leave.  And the steady knowledge that God is in control tells me that I have nothing to worry over, and for a chronic worrier, that is a blessing in and of itself.

So, we're leaving home to go home.  Didn't see this one coming.  I expect I'll be pretty scarce in the next few weeks as I scramble to pack, move, and buy as many baskets and as much pottery as our budget will allow before setting sail.  Things are already set in motion and as the moments tick by, I am more eager to leave and begin the next phase of life...where ever that may be.

Monday, February 04, 2013

cyprus monday: the mediterranean

We don't get to see this very often.  Saturday found us driving the better portion of the island taking care of things for church.  We had about a half hour free during the middle of the day and stumbled upon the beach.  I frolicked for five glorious minutes while Mr. F daydreamed about owning a boat.  This island may be small, but it still takes us the better part of an hour to get to seaside and every time I see it, I remember just how much I miss it in the meantime.

Sunday, February 03, 2013

roots


Dear Nana,

Oh, how I've been missing you!  Our winter here is my chance to bake, cook, and can.  I desperately wish you were here to answer my questions about techniques and to talk to me through processes.  Our budget demands creativity in the pantry, much as yours did.  So, I make all that I can and am learning to make even more.  I constantly think of your cellar full of canned fruits and vegetables and the giant flour bin in your kitchen.  I remember you making bread and your closet full of fabric, never throwing anything out because you might still be able to use it.  While I am nowhere near the seamstress you are, I have a strong desire to learn.  Right now, I'm at pillow shams for the sofa.  

I miss you even more when I think of our church responsibilities here.  I feel you with me as I pick hymns every Sunday and think of your testimony as I send my husband to another meeting.  Only now do I begin to comprehend the strength of your faith and how that has permeated my own life.

I love you, 

engquist

Friday, February 01, 2013

pitcher picture

Whilst reading a post on a DIY blog about installing a faucet, I saw a photo of the completed counter with this lovely gallery framed image of a place setting of dishes.  And right then and there I decided I needed more painting in my life,  more still-life work, real subjects, and daggum, I needed some kitchen art of my very own.  And the next day came the pitcher picture.  My very own piece of kitchen art, needing its own lovely gallery mat and frame, but well on its way to gracing my counter.

This also got me thinking, what gets you inspired?  Do you peruse Pinterest?  Go outside? Your children?  For me it's usually everyday things made beautiful.  They inspire me to make my own life more lovely.