The mister and I met while we were both in art college in Edinburgh, Scotland. He was there from Copenhagen, Denmark, and I was there from 100 miles or so south, from northern England. We were both doing our MFA’s in Sculpture, we went out for many a drink, and Bob’s Your Uncle, we started making artwork together, in more ways than one, if you know what I’m saying.
A year or so after graduating, he got a teaching job in rural Wisconsin, so we packed up our lives and moved half way round the world. I think “culture shock” would be a fair way to talk about it, “the dark years” is how I often think about it.
When we moved to the States, we both thought Wisconsin would be a stepping stone to one of the coasts, either Seattle or Boston. (Who knew that academic jobs would be so hard to come by?) Instead, we moved into the Twin Cities, first St Paul, then later Minneapolis, and he commuted to work for the next 9 years.
Meanwhile, I was teaching art part time and running a wall art business when we had daughter #1, then almost exactly two years later, along came daughter #2. Then five years later, daughter #3 was due. And because having babies just isn’t challenging enough by itself, the mister got a job in Auckland, New Zealand… We moved when I was 34 1/2 weeks pregnant…
On the plus side, I didn’t have the baby on the plane, or in a hotel room, so there’s that. Within not too long, we knew that living in New Zealand forever, whilst a beautiful country, was not for us.
We began to explore our options. Our options were… limited.
Having given up our house, pets, lives, and jobs in the States, we knew if we came back we’d have to start all over again. From zero. But if we stayed in New Zealand, even with The Job and The House, we knew we’d get more and more miserable.
In January, 2014, we got on a plane back to the US without any real idea of what lay ahead for us. Our mantra became one foot in front of the other / one day at a time / baby steps. Fittingly, our youngest, took her first independent steps in the airport back on American soil.
We moved, sight-unseen, to Portland, Maine, because a gazillion articles on Facebook about the best places to raise kids can’t all be wrong. We arrived in the dark, in the snow, on a cold January night, with one sentence in our heads, we have to make this work.
It's been a journey of epic proportions but we're getting there, we're designing our version of a happy life. It's not always easy, and it's not always smooth sailing and there are certainly some omfg what are we doing moments... but it's our journey and I wouldn't trade it for the world.