Taking Leave

Over the years, storytellers and screenwriters have been perpetuating a myth which many of us have bought into. The fallacy is that the hardest part of moving – be it across town, across country or across the world – lies in the decision itself.

Hours spent wrestling with what ifs? and how abouts? followed by a sleepless night or two, a little hand-wringing and some wittily poignant dialogue back and forth, and the main characters arrive at the ever-popular list of pros and cons.

Mattel Magic 8 Ball on www.adventuresinexpatland.com

Once various aspects and considerations have been weighed, the answer dramatically appears at the bottom of the columns, as simple as reading a Magic 8 Ball.


Or go.

Moving again? Great. Rev up the planning juggernaut, get it in gear and get on with it. Done and dusted.

The cinematic license taken by any number of stories or movies would have us believe that once the decision is rendered, that’s it. One life chapter closes for our hero/heroine, and another begins. Having chosen the path to elsewhere, it’s time for the leading actor to embrace the new life which lies beyond.

Easy peasy. Piece of cake.

If only that were the case. The tendency is to draw down our mind’s steel shutters, announce we’re leaving and close up shop. Packing commences and farewells are tucked in around moving dates, flight plans and the myriad details of dismantling one’s home. Nostalgia is banished to those quiet moments between tasks, accompanied usually by confusion, occasionally by doubt.

Rarely is leaving ever as neat and clean as the quick severing so often portrayed. Even if it were, it would only cause far greater problems down the road.

The truth is, taking leave is complicated and messy, full of ambivalence and conflicting emotions.

Despite looking forward to the next stage in life’s grand adventures, we still come face to face with one simple fact: we’re leaving people and places that mean something to us. Who we are, what we’ve done, indeed a large part of our very identity have been wrapped up in our life here, in these relationships, in this place.

They matter.

We may never be entirely sure how to fully say goodbye, and in many ways I’m still not.

I have some ideas, and think I did as well as could be expected under the circumstances. Like it or not, with each move we become more experienced, although not necessarily more adept.

How do you prepare to depart from a place which has been home for several years?

Even from the other side of these past few months, the other side of the leave-taking, indeed the other side of the pond, the question still reverberates.

How do you take leave?

It’s far from done and dusted. It isn’t easy peasy, and there’s no cake in sight.


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