All it I takes is a quick look at my blog timeline to see that other than the odd knitting project, I’ve not really been writing a whole lot. Why? Well, mostly because I’ve been too damn tired. I had very limited mental and physical energy to put towards anything and blogging wasn’t really a priority. In a few of my posts I’ve alluded to changes that have taken place, illness, us moving, etc. So I’ll just sum up what’s been going on in the last while and try to catch up.
Oh, you optimistic, naive nincompoops.
Remember this post about us moving to Pittsburgh? Well, the whole thing started almost 2.5 years ago when my husband was offered a job there and we visited to see how we liked it. The original plan was that we would move at the end of 2014, but due to the visa situation being more difficult than we expected, they organized that my husband would work remotely from Europe while waiting for the visa to go through. Fast forward through the next two years and it was basically a comedy of errors that consisted of visa screwups and denials, missing / fired lawyers, and a lot of waiting and frustration. During this time we were also trying to sell our flat in Rotterdam, which was proving to be very difficult and quite depressing as we knew we were going to have to sell at a significant loss.
In early spring, 2016 we learned that we had gotten through in our second year of the visa process (our second attempt at this particular type of visa), so everything was looking good for us to be able to move to Pittsburgh after October 2016. We still had to wait for the final approval, but we had already gotten past the difficult bit. We had also received an offer on our flat around that time, which felt like a miracle after over 1.5 years with so few viewings and so little interest. Knowing we were likely going to be going to Pittsburgh in a few months, we decided to take the offer for our flat, plus all furniture and electronics, to ensure that we would be free to take off when the time came. We considered taking all of our furniture with us as it was covered in the move, but we were planning to start fresh in the US and the addition of the contents of the flat helped us to get the sale. The woman who bought it was newly divorced and wanted the full package because she, unfortunately, was left with nothing.
During all of this time, I had been feeling quite miserable physically. In 2014 I had started feeling very tired, dragged out and generally unwell. The doctors ran some tests and it turned out that I was anemic. I was put on iron supplements which I took for quite some time, but they didn’t help, rather just caused me to have months of other issues as a result of taking them, which I won’t get into (ok fine, they constipated me to hell and back, giving me hemorrhoids sent straight from the devil himself. Are you happy now? I bet you wish you hadn’t asked!) Honestly, for months I had to sit sideways on my hip because my poor butt was screaming. Thanks to those pills, at some point in the future I will have to have surgery for this as they had apparently reached a point where they will easily return. Lovely.
I ended up having chronic anemia for almost 1.5 years, which left me feeling like the walking dead most of the time. I was so incredibly tired that it pretty much took all of my energy just to get the bare minimum done each day and function as a normal human. In the end, the doctors decided had to be a result of me having such a difficult time with my monthly lady business (now, that I actually won’t go into, I’ll spare you.. you’re welcome.) and we agreed that a hysterectomy was the only answer. This was just after we’d accepted the offer on our flat and were figuring everything out. On FRIDAY May THIRTEENTH 2016 (yes, Friday the 13th!) I went in for surgery. I wasn’t really all that eager to have surgery again, but I just kept reminding myself that there would be no more lady business for me! The surgery went fine, I was in the hospital for a few day and then sent home for recover.
My husband… the comedian.
This wouldn’t have been so bad, except for the fact that we had an amazing two week trip to Iceland booked for May 15th. Granted, with the state I was in I probably wouldn’t have enjoyed it as much as I would have if I were feeling better, so it’s probably best that it was postponed. We don’t have a new date for it yet, and it won’t be for a few years, but I’m saying postponed rather than canceled, because I refuse to believe that we won’t have that trip one day. All I can say is – thank god for travel insurance!
As it turns out, they found the cause of all my problems in the pathology reports. I had a rare form of Adenomyosis, a small cell form which was nearly impossible to detect with an ultrasound. I guess my doctors had no real reason to do an MRI, which would have picked it up. Perhaps they thought like that saying “If you hear hoofbeats, think horses, not zebras!”, only, I was a zebra!!
In hindsight, it was likely the cause of my problems going back years, to my teens even. It was quite a relief when the surgeon told me, as I had spent years wondering if I was just going through what ALL women went through each month and just couldn’t hack it because I was weak. No, that wasn’t the case, there was something really wrong and the pain I was feeling was real. It also explained why I had so many fertility issues… something that was always unexplained and quite painful and confusing for me, now I have answers. I know there’s nothing I did wrong, there was nothing I could have done to prevent it and it was out of my control. There’s a lot of comfort in knowing that now.
Fun fact! The drugs you are given during IVF (follicle stimulating hormones… remember, the stuff I was taking in maximum doses?) can make adenomyosis even worse, which explains why everything went to shit for me in 2014 after I decided to stop with my treatments! In fact, if I had gotten pregnant, it could have been very dangerous for me as my uterus was so damaged it could have possibly ruptured. I’m so glad to be rid of that bastard, my mortal enemy, my nemesis! Goodbye forever! I wish I could have gotten it back afterwards, to stomp on, kick around, BBQ and feed to the dogs!
Mind you, for the majority of this tale I was also working on the Last Dance on the Beach CAL and moderating the Facebook groups, which was… well, let’s just go with… interesting? challenging? infuriating? We should probably just stick with interesting.
Moving on… In early June, about four weeks after my surgery, I was finally feeling up to the road trip and was given the green light by my surgeon. So, we went off to the south of France for a month. We stayed at my in-laws where I finished my recovery floating on the pool, and can I just say, I don’t know what we would have done without their kindness and generosity in giving us an escape during all of this, it really made all the difference in the world.
During the time we were in France, we had already signed the papers for the sale on our flat, we would be going back to the Netherlands to pack up in July, move out for August 1st and then return to France to wait out the rest of the time before our move. We had it all figured out!
Our city dogs enjoying being free range country puppies!
Well, at least we thought so. It would have been smooth sailing and all pool water and sunshine, except for THE CALL. The call we had with Xander’s company to iron out the details of our move. The call where we said “So, let’s nail down a plan for this move!” and they said “Umm, actually, there has been a change of plans. We decided that we no longer want you in Pittsburgh, we want you in Texas instead!”.
Then we said “WTF?!!!!”
WTF indeed, it was panic stations all around. They gave us the info on the where and why and left us to discuss it and figure out what we wanted to do. They gave us two options: they would relocate us to Texas, or he stays working remotely from Europe. Looking back, it was a very clear decision, but in the middle of it all, it was very confusing and scary. We had already sold our flat, we had spent over two years imagining this life for ourselves in Pittsburgh, I was super excited to live in an English speaking country again, somewhere where I could actually drive to my parents if I wanted and my husband was really eager to work side by side with his colleagues there. In one phone call, it all went to dust.
Texas? *sigh* Look, we have nothing against Texas and if they’d asked us two years ago we may have given it more serious thought, but with the political situation that occurred in that time and the general state of affairs over there, we just didn’t want it. The US was quite scary to us to begin with, tbh. We had both only ever lived in countries with really amazing health care, with strict gun laws, relatively low crime rates, etc… where we felt safe and secure. In a world where we were at risk of Trump becoming president, with all of the racism, anger and unrest, we decided that we just weren’t willing to give up the life we have here in Europe. Even as pasty, white, crackers we didn’t want to be immigrants in Trump’s world.
In the space of a day we went from excited, happy people who were on the verge of a move to a really cool city we’d been looking forward to for two years, to homeless hobos, with no furniture, no plan and a pain in our stomachs from a mountain of uncertainty crashing down on us at a time when we thought we’d finally have the security we’d been waiting for.
So NOW what the fuck do we do?! We put our heads together and come up with a new plan, that’s the only thing we can do…
This was our new plan:
1. Go back to the Netherlands, find a storage unit to store our personal belongings, pack up the flat and move out for the sign over on August 1.
2. Buy a roof container for our car, organize our necessary belongings we need for the next year, all of which must fit in the car / container.
3. Don’t freak out.
4. August 1 – pack up the car, sign over house to new owner, drive across the Netherlands and drop dogs with Sonya (our savior) for a month as Bailey is an idiot who can’t get along with my in-laws’ dog.
5. August 2 – Drive back to the south of France, via Germany, stopping in Oberhausen for a day of shopping at Centro, where I can’t buy anything because we can’t fit another damn thing in our car.
6. Unload our carload of stuff into my in-laws’ garage and spend the month of August fine tuning our plans, gathering info, leaving gifts for the fairies, swimming and trying to relax.
7. Return to the land of giants (The Netherlands) to pick up our dogs, spend a week in an AirBnB while we wait for our next rental in France to be available.
8. September 4 – Pick up dogs and drive back to France again where we rented a beautiful cottage for the winter.
9. Spend the winter gathering our thoughts, paying off the loss on our flat, learning French and seeing how we like living in France rather than just vacationing there.
10. Don’t freak out.
That takes us pretty much up to where we are now. We have been living in this cottage in the middle of France for almost three months and I truly feel like I have found the place where I belong. Where I honestly and truly want to put down roots and stay for the rest of my life. Not this cottage, as it’s a holiday rental that we’ve just booked during their low season (although, I’d stay forever if I could!), but France. I love the space, the lifestyle, the weather, the friends we’ve made here, just everything about it.
I truly don’t remember the last time I felt that way… I think probably before I left Canada. As much as I loved the Netherlands, I never felt this level of contentment there. I felt various levels of appreciation, but never a feeling of belonging or a true desire to be there like I do with France. It’s possible it was just where we were living, and if we were out of the city, in a house that provided a bit more privacy, maybe I’d have felt differently. Regardless, I’m hoping it’s not just rose coloured glasses or a honeymoon period, but to be quite frank, I don’t give a shit. It feels so good, I’ll take whatever it is right now and enjoy it for as long as I possibly can.
My husband still has to work out the logistics of how it will work once we properly move here, rather than the extended holiday thing we have going on now. Come June, we still have to find a semi-permanent place to live and organize getting our belongings from storage in the Netherlands, but I’m excited to see where it all goes. We’ll probably rent a house for a while until we can buy something and while he gets his bearings with the new construction with his job… we’ll see. We’ll have nothing to actually put in the house other than a lot of yarn and robotics equipment, but hey, I’m down for a little retail therapy!
It’s funny, ya know, because we’ve come to France so many times on holiday and every single time I would spend almost the entire drive back to the Netherlands daydreaming about us one day moving here, maybe retiring to France… and ok, moaning about not wanting to go back to NL. It felt like just that, though, a dream, something that I imagined but could possibly never come true, but now here we are. So, while this isn’t really the future we imagined for ourselves two years ago, assuming we can get everything to work out the way we need it to, it could be even better. Wouldn’t that be wild?!
I have so much I want to write, about France and what we’ve been up to so far, the friends we’ve made and the places we’ve seen. I also have so much to go back and write about that I just didn’t have the energy to, like our cruise and other general life stuff. Let’s leave it at here for today, though, shall we?