As I prepare myself for my first day back at work, I find myself reflecting on the last six months with a whole mix of emotions. I’m definitely sad that I’m about to lose the total freedom that I’d rediscovered, but I’m extremely thankful for the opportunities Alastair and I have had to explore the world, and part of me is also really excited for what’s to come in the year ahead. We had quite the year in 2018: From changing roles at work, planning our wedding, getting married, leaving our jobs, moving out of London, travelling around the world, to moving to the United States, it has been a mixture of wonderful, emotional, scary, exhausting, and exciting. I’ve been reflecting on the three main milestones that stick out to me and how life has changed so much in such a small space of time.
Getting married: Marrying Alastair in July was one of the easiest decisions I’ve ever made. He’s changed my life immensely and being with each other has brought more adventure and love to both of our lives than either of us could have ever imagined. Committing to each other in such a formal way—not to mention being surrounded by so many of our loved ones in one place—was so special, memorable, and genuinely one of the best days of my life.
Travelling: I am so very happy that we saved up over the past five years to go on the adventure we’ve just been on. It may sound cliché, but it really is true that travelling is one of the only things that you buy that actually makes you richer. Taking the time off and leaving behind the monotony of working life has been so refreshing, enjoyable, as well as thought-provoking. I’ve come to realise just how important having perspective is to all aspects of life over the past few years, and I think that the perspective that we’ve gained from our travels is going to be invaluable to us. We’ve seen so many different ways of life, and each one really makes you think about the small bit of the world that you live in. I’ve noted down a few of the things that stuck out to us most below.
- Regulation: We’re so used to living in a society governed by relatively strict laws and regulations—a fact that many of us often complain about, particularly in terms of how they slow everything down to a snail’s pace to the point that you feel nothing is ever going to be done—that it was a shock to see the other side of the coin. The sheer lack of regulation that we saw in many of the countries we visited shocked us, and it made us thankful for what we have. We realised that the way our society is set up might well slow things down, but it also means we have a control over what our day-to-day lives can and can’t look like, and that’s a comforting thought.
- Environment: We were shocked and saddened at how much plastic and garbage we saw littered in virtually every country we visited. This has made us want to be even more responsible when it comes to thinking about exactly what we’re buying and if its packaging can be disposed of in a sustainable way. Cutting out all single-use plastic, recycling, composting, and buying a more energy-efficient car have taken on even more importance for us after wondering what the earth may turn into if we don’t radically change the way we live straight away.
- Food: We tried so many new and exciting dishes in every place we went—drool! But we also observed awful treatment of animals, such as a bald chicken tied to a two-inch chain in Vietnam, which has made us think about precisely where our meat comes from and what we are happy to eat. This is one of the reasons why we’ve decided to go meat-free in March: We’re going to stick to fish and vegetarian dishes to see what we can make that doesn’t use meat but that gives us the same nutrients. Researching more into where our food comes from has made us want to buy more local, organically grown produce, and only buy meat when we know where it has come from and how the animals have been treated.
- Comfort: There is no place like home. To us, home has always been wherever we are together, but after three and a half months on the road we realized that we do love having a consistent place to live, a community of friends and family, and a work routine (yeah, I just said that!). I would definitely go straight back to hiking in New Zealand or lying on a beach in Thailand, but I wouldn’t jump at the opportunity to walk a mile to our hotel with water up to my knees in Hoi An, or recovering from food poisoning on a six-hour train journey in Sri Lanka. The trip brought so many highs, but of course there were lows, and the lows made us realize how much we love the comforts of home.
I have no regrets taking the time off to go on our travels—I mean, how could I? I’m not sure when else we’ll have the opportunity to totally switch off from the normal day-to-day routine, push ourselves out of our comfort zones almost daily, and experience what the world has to offer. It was a trip of a lifetime and I reflect on it so fondly.
Moving to Boston: It was really hard to say goodbye to family and friends back in London. I can’t even begin to describe how wonderful my last five years in England have been. It has been one of the most impactful experiences of my life and I wouldn’t change it for the world. London, Reading, Richmond, and Wadhurst—these are all places I truly feel at home—and I promise we’ll be back over and over again.
The last month has been a whirlwind of emotions and activity. Moving countries is no easy task—from ticking all the boxes to get Alastair’s green card, to figuring out how to move all of our belongings overseas, to finding a place to live and setting up all the services you need—but so far we’ve managed to get it all done relatively easily. As I’ve been living in England for the past five years, moving to the US is almost as new to me as it is to Alastair. This is nice though as it feels like we’re going through it all together.
Since we got to the US three weeks ago, and aside from all the admin in our first week here, we spent a very nice week back in my hometown of Avon Lake, Ohio, visiting my parents and sorting out furniture and belongings we needed to truck to Boston. On Thursday, we drove 12 hours in a questionable truck and brought everything to our new place in Beverly, Massachusetts, which is a cute town that’s a 30-minute train ride north of Boston. So far we’re really liking it as we’re minutes from the beach (we can see the Atlantic from outside our building, so we can constantly wave to the UK now) and the area feels gentrified enough that there are some nice places to shop, eat, and drink at. We’re also not far from some of the North Shore’s most beautiful dunes and coastline, and then the mountains of New Hampshire, Maine, and Vermont beyond that. Alastair’s been asking when we’re going skiing every single day so far… We’ve also met almost all our neighbors and spoken to a lot of friendly people around the town, which gives us a really good feeling about the area. A new place to get to know and make our home—we’re ready and excited for the adventure!
Anyway, back to the original point of this blog. The past six or so months have confirmed, as I mused in my first blog, that change is almost always good. It makes us stronger; it gives us more perspective; and it’s usually associated with an exciting adventure in one way or another. We’re grateful to now understand more about different cultures and areas of the world, and we’ve visited some incredible places. The international language of kindness is something we’ll never forget, and we’ll be conscious of this with all the experiences we have to come.
Thanks for sharing the past year with us—we’re truly grateful for all the love and support so many of you have given us through our marriage, travels, and our move—now onto our next adventure. Going back to work feels surreal but I’m looking forward to getting back to having a routine, a paycheck (!!!), and a new place to make home. Alastair has had so many observations in the US already (the shoe’s now on the other foot!) that I’m sure he’ll be sharing a few of them in due course, so we’ll blog more soon.