Saturday, November 6, 2010

Moving away

I've tried very hard to keep this blog focused on building and living in a Swedish summer cabin. I think I've been successful to a large degree. Out of the 750 posts so far, about 15 of them have been off-topic, and almost all of those have been about Ollie or Manchester City.

I say this as a warning that I'm about to go way off-topic. If you're looking for building tips or observations on island life, you'd best skip ahead.

Regular readers know that we moved to London from Texas almost 12 years ago. That's a huge hunk of time. Grant has changed from a little boy into a university student; Sooz and I have gone from being thirtysomething well into middle age. When we left, Bill Clinton was president, and the big worry was the Y2K bug. I could fill paragraphs with how the America we left was comically ancient, but I won't belabor the point.

Over this past decade, people have often asked us, "when are we moving back"? As time has passed, I found it a harder question to answer, as I didn't really feel a "back" anymore. We've worked hard to make a comfortable life in the UK, and we put down roots in Sweden. Asking when we're moving "back" implies, to me at least, that we're away from where we should be: "Yankee Go Home".

We made a conscious decision to stay put until Grant graduated from school. I was hoping he'd choose a university in the UK or Europe, but he wanted to go to the US. I got over my disappointment and now realize why he wanted to, as his perspective is that of a kid who grew up in England and wants to experience American life in all its technicolor glory. And who wouldn't want to do that?

Now that he is away at school, though, Sooz and I found ourselves at a bit of a crossroads. Do we make changes here in London, perhaps sell our Texas house and all those left-behind possessions, and really commit to being Brits? That's an appealing prospect, to be sure. We're close to our stuga, and our friends here, and we get to stay with the way of life we've become used to and enjoy so much.

On the flip side, there are a lot of advantages to moving "back". I haven't done my career any favors being away from our headquarters for so long. Readers of this blog know I'm 51. If I was 61, it'd be easy to leave the career ladder and stay in my London job. But I'm a little too young, I think, to do that.

Practically speaking, I'd be a lot better off financially in the US. Recent and impending changes to UK tax law aren't in my favor, especially considering I have a college tuition bill priced in dollars! Plus, our parents aren't getting any younger, and it would be nice to be nearer to them, not to mention to our stateside college student. And we still have lots of friends in Texas, not to mention our house and the Shelby.

So it should come as no surprise at this point in my missive to report that I have taken a job "back" in Texas, in our headquarters, a very good and exciting job I'm happy to have. I'll start soon, and Sooz and Ollie will move just after the New Year. We will all still go to Sweden this Christmas, with the Wilhelmis again, and we'll go out to the stuga for at least a day visit. But after that, we're Americans again.

What does this mean about our summer house? Sooz and I have talked about this a lot over the years, even before we decided to build. Basically, our plan is to take fewer, but longer, trips to Aspö. We can't go for a weekend, obviously, and even a week will be a bit of a stretch. But the Texas summers are brutally hot, and the archipelago weather during July and August is quite appealing to us! I have 6 weeks of vacation every year, so spending 4 weeks on Aspö in a couple of chunks sounds good to me. Remember too, that I work in the airline business, so air travel is a bit easier for us.    

It's not going to be a easy transition. We've been away a long time, and lots has changed. Re-engaging with American life is going to take some work, and there will be high points and low points along the way. I'm thinking about writing on this process, perhaps on a separate blog, so I can continue to keep this one focused on the details of Swedish island life.

That's it. If you've managed to read this far, don't worry. The next blog post is on fungus!

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