early July 2010; on the beach in Aldeburgh, Suffolk
I'd moved to London before, in September 2008, but that trip, as far as we were aware at the time, had an end date. My MA was only a year long, which meant that I'd be back in DC sometime the following summer or fall. This trip, as far as we were aware at the time, didn't have an end date. Here's how I explained my reasons for expatriating in my very first (and, strangely, extremely formal) post here:
My travels, therefore, have not been the result of a longing to be elsewhere. Rather, they have been the result of a longing to find a home. I certainly love my parents’ house just outside of Washington, DC, but recently I’ve been feeling pulled more and more by the need to make my own home. That pull is tugging me to London.
There are several reasons I accept London. First and foremost, the city is a good fit for me; after living there for a year while studying for my Master’s degree from September 2008 until September 2009 I know that I can thrive there. Second, my chosen career path is exploding in the UK; I currently work in development at an arts organization, and as Europe begins to assume the American tradition of philanthropy my experience will hopefully prove useful. Third and last, but certainly not least of these reasons, is my boyfriend Jon; the success of our relationship ultimately depends on us actually being together.I always mentioned the romantic aspect at the end, as if moving for love was something to be ashamed of but, as everyone knows, it was really Jon that brought me back to London. Now, four years later, he's preparing to move to the United States for me.
We do talk about moving back to England eventually. Not any time soon - maybe in ten years, but who knows? Even I, planner of life extraordinaire, am resigned to the fact that there are too many unknowns to even think about plotting out our return now. We don't know where we'll be in our careers or what the job situation will look like on either side of the pond a decade from now, we don't know how our family will have grown by the time we're in our mid-30s or what our (potential) children's educational needs will be, and we don't know if other relationships will keep us in the States or call us to England as our grandparents and parents age. Most frustratingly, in a way, we don't know what the immigration requirements will be to settle in the UK when we are ready to move back and if we'll be able to meet them.
Of course this isn't something we should be worrying about now and I don't, mostly. I am completely happy in Washington and I can't wait for Jon to get his visa so we can make our first married home together here. Neither Jon nor I will put our lives on hold while we're in DC; we will be fully here, deepening our roots in this town personally and professionally, for years to come. But this morning, four years to the day from when I moved to London for the second time, I do wonder what the third (and probably final) expatriation might look like.