An expat by definition is a person who is temporarily or permanently residing in a country they are not citizens of. We have claimed that title for years now and often receive questions, criticism, confusion, we sometimes even lose friends because of this life. There are 5 things I would like to share with you all about this life and I hope that maybe it will broaden and bring better understanding to what it means for us and for you as our friends and family.
1. We chose this life. This was not a forced job. My husband was given the opportunity almost 11 years ago to showcase his talent to play the game of basketball. Just like your job in the USA, my husband reports to work when it’s time, listens to his boss, does as instructed, travels for business, and collects a paycheck every month. He has his dream job and it pays for our mortgage, car, bills, vacations, sons education, giving, tithing, etc. Sound familiar? Exactly. While he might not be behind a desk and he might not take exams, my husband receives a raise based on his performance that season and if he performs well, we will reap the rewards. We chose this life of basketball and my husband chose his dream job over something else. There are benefits and there are drawbacks, just like in any other job. This jobs benefits outweigh its drawbacks so we will continue until it no longer does.
2. We might not be physically present, but if you choose to make time, we CAN be present. There is no better time than right now, you always hear that saying and it’s totally true. With social media there is absolutely no excuse that we cannot be friends even though we aren’t having coffee in Starbucks. Facebook messenger, Facebook APP, Skype, what’s app, Instagram messenger, Snapchat, email, iMessage, text message. These are ALL ways we can speak, text, and video chat our friends and family in the USA and abroad. They are FREE. It won’t cost you money to chat with us it will only cost time. Sadly, we have watched lots of relationships fall away because they just don’t want to invest the time. It’s a two-way street, we know that, but I’m quite positive that in the 9-10 months we are away you can spare 9-10 minutes to chat.
3. We like vacations too. Although we are only home about a total of 8 weeks a year we do like to vacation. Sometimes we end up leaving for 1-2 weeks and that might mean we won’t see you all too much, but remember we like time off too. My husbands job is a real job folks…I know, shocker. He might not clock in and out but he still is extremely busy and we only get a few days away from training, practice, therapy, travel, games, etc to spend doing something fun as a family. We take advantage of that time and just like you all take family Christmas trips or spring break, we get a few days in the summer to enjoy the same.
4. We are sorry. I know it isn’t easy being our friends, really I know. When I get homesick or lonely I don’t get to call you and chat with you, you won’t understand, and I’m sorry. The problems you have at home and at your job I don’t have, and my husband doesn’t either. It makes us a little un-relatable, and I understand. When we are home and I want to hang with you at happy hour or the gym, you can’t, and I’m sorry that I don’t relate to that either. Our time clocks are different, our schedules aren’t the same, our seasons are not aligned. But this is it. We are home when we are and that’s just the way it is. So come on over on a Saturday, we’ve got a stocked fridge, I’ve always got wine, and we’ve got a backyard for dogs and children. Meet us when you can and I promise to keep the door open, always.
5. We aren’t “home” much & that hurts us too. We have a home. We spent lots of hours and prayer over our sweet home, and we miss it! My husband works hard to keep that home perfect for us and he is away from it most of the year. We won’t celebrate Thanksgiving, we aren’t in the USA. We don’t get to stream Christmas lights, decorate a big tree, and bake amazing cookies in my commercial grade oven I so love. We might come home for the holidays but it’ll just be a few days and we will be back overseas again in an unfamiliar home rented by my husbands boss.
Most importantly, we don’t see our families. We miss all the birthday parties, holiday parties, the milestones, graduations, surgeries, sicknesses, and sadly funerals too. It hurts to be away sometimes, especially in the difficult times. If there was another way to do this, trust us we would, but there isn’t and there won’t be for a while.
This is the life of an expat and being friends with one isn’t easy. But we need our friends and family just as much as you do. I have lost friends to this lifestyle for many reasons, and they all hurt. I’ve grown distant to many friends because they don’t understand or desire to make the time. I’m not angry or bitter, I get it, it’s not easy. But for all of you that are still around, thank you. One day we will be back and it’ll feel like we never left. One day we will have more in common, our life journey will look the same, and we will still have our doors open.
Our pictures on the walls of our home don’t give enough credit to the amazing places we have been and explored because of this lifestyle and if there was ever a question about “home” and what it means to us this is it….
We live a life of chaos, excitement and change. We live a life of distance and the unfamiliar and we crave a life of normalcy too.
We are “home” when our friends and family send us messages, packages, or call us. We are “home” when we get the email that says “we watched his game and he did amazing.” We are “home” when summer rolls around and you are at our door steps. We are “home” because we choose to have you all in our lives, and you choose that too. So thanks for making “home” amazing for us, for sticking around, for loving us, and for understanding that this life is our beautiful life even if it doesn’t look like yours.