Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Summer Days...

Texas Sunset
This being our third summer in this quirky little country, it still amazes me how quickly the weeks fly by. Seems like yesterday since I whisked the kids off from school (directly to the airport) and headed to Texas for our two week American fix. We had a fantastic time visiting family in Texas, not to mention shopping and getting our fill of our favorite foods! It honestly felt like we ate our way across the Lone Star state - BBQ, Tex Mex, Whataburger - you name it. But like all vacations, our days in the Texas heat quickly came to an end and we found ourselves flying out of Houston in this amazing sunset. It seemed like God was telling us we would be back soon, but leaving us a lovely picture to remember Texas by.

We were only in Lux for a week before heading out for the European leg of our vacation. My in-laws celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary this year, so we wanted to celebrate by giving them a vacation they would always remember. We gave them a choice of several places to choose from, none of which we had been to ourselves. Within a few days they had decided - they wanted to see Ireland. In all honesty, I had thrown Ireland on the list at the last minute. I just had a gut feeling that they might want to see the Emerald Isle, even though I had never really considered it for ourselves. Needless to say, I had a lot of research to do once the choice had been made.
Rainbow over Dingle

Just a few hours into my research, I was very happy they had made the choice they had. Ireland turned out to be one of our favorite trips! The people were absolutely lovely, the landscape was breathtaking, and the incredible variations in weather kept me in awe as to how quickly our surroundings could change. We spent many of our days just driving through the countryside or experiencing our surroundings - walking along the beach, hiking along the hills, or just looking out onto the Atlantic from the window of the house we were staying in. We had a great time eating at the pubs and learning many of the traditional songs, the rich history and the imaginative folklore for which the country is known. As I listened to one pub band in a little place in Dingle sing Johnny Mathis' song "40 Shades of Green," I completely understood why he was so enchanted on his visit to Ireland many years ago.

We also had a lovely time spending our few weeks here in Luxembourg. Each summer is filled with music festivals, dinners on the terrace, and weekends walking amongst the tourists in the city center. The weather this year has been absolutely stellar, with temperatures in the 70's and clear blue skies almost every day we have been here. I am finally getting the opportunity to do some of the hiking I had been longing to do all spring. There are so many hiking trails through canopied forests, local parks, grapevines along the Moselle, or fields of cows and sheep in the countryside that it is actually difficult to decide where to go. However, I am in no hurry to see them all. I really am trying to learn to slow down a bit and take in the details of this beautiful little country.  I truly feel fortunate that my family and I have this incredible opportunity. Therefore, I want to experience and cherish every second of it.

Along with summer comes some of the other nuances of living abroad. With Luxembourg having the heavy expat community that it does, each year you face the inevitable - saying goodbye to friends who are moving on. This year seemed to be a big one for us. I have a close friend who warned me of this, and by choice she tends to steer clear of potential friends who are here for short periods of time. I had adopted this philosophy early on. However, there was one particular lady who came to Lux in the fall last year that changed my mind on this perspective. She was very clear that she was only here for a few months, so I avoided getting close as best as I could. However, we ended up alone together on a day trip to France and we connected instantly. I am so grateful that we did. I would have really missed out on getting to know this person, which would have been such a loss. Not only did she teach me about the forests near where we live, she taught me to live life as fully as possible since you just never where life may lead you next. This was maybe her 11th or 12th move, and she has since moved on to Canada. We still keep in touch and I will always be grateful that she changed how I view each person that enters my life.

Other friends have moved on as well, so now my family and I must approach this next year in Luxembourg from a new perspective and with other friends by our side - some of which we probably haven't even met yet. Even though we see our time in this country as indefinite, we really don't know just how long we have. So, I hope to have new friends to guide me along the way, and new experiences to encounter each day. I no longer have the fear of losing friends to other places, but rather a new attitude towards what I may miss out by not saying "hi" or reaching out to that new expat that is just starting his/her adventure here in Lux. No matter how short their stay may be, we can share the experiences along the way and add dimension and character to our lives by embracing the day and what it brings by learning from each other as we go. It may be a bumpy road ahead, but I have learned that making friends here is so much easier than what I experienced with the frenetic lifestyle we had in the US. Perhaps it is all the extra time us traveling spouses have, but each person still has to choose how to fill those hours. I am quickly learning that I don't have ENOUGH hours in my day to experience it all, so I have to prioritize how I want to allocate my time. For now, I just want to savor each day and learn to live in the moment. Some day it will be my turn to say goodbye and close the chapter on this book. In the mean time, I intend to make this chapter the best one :)