Wednesday, January 28, 2015

My Anniversary

2 days ago I have reached my anniversary of living in the United States of America. One whole year. I have never been away from "home" this long. Time seemed to go by faster, and slower. Does it feel like I have been living here longer than a year? Sort of, yes. Does it feel like I just arrived in this whole new world? Yes, that too.

What surprises me, is how quickly I have build a life for myself. I have a home, spouse, friends, hobbies and a great job. The only thing missing, well the only thingS missing, are my family and my culture. Those are the things that are hard to do without.

Arriving in the end of January in Florida made for pleasant weather. Especially considering that my other 2 experiences were the hot highsummer in Alabama and the thanksgiving period in Florida. Both unbearably hot at the time. January was a warm and gentle welcome to the hot sun state, and eased me right into it.

Straight away on arriving, I went looking for clubs and meeting groups to make new friends. I also searched for volunteer opportunities to keep myself occupied and contribute to a worthy cause. I found a horseback riding place where I could work off my lessons, this turned out to be perfect for me. This gave me friends, experience and fulfillment. It was an important start in making me feel at home in a new country. The culture might be different, but love for our equine animals binds anyone together.

I can not stress enough how important my horse riding and training was in my integration into Gainesville. It gave me something to look forward to and be a part of, creatures who did not judge me, and understood me and the pride in becoming a better rider. And the only thing it cost me, was the gas of getting to the barn.

Now this did not give me the kind of friends who go shopping with me, or lounge on the couch and watch a movie, or even have dinner with. But I do those things with Michael anyway. It gave me friends who I could talk about the things we love most, on and on and on without getting tired of the subjects. And that's really all I wanted! Because Michael was never interested in my horse stories, and Marit was quite far away now. She was my go to "lets talk about things noone else seems to like" person. Skype is there of course, but unfortunately, so is the time difference.

During my volunteer time I also spend a lot of time buying stuff for our house. When I arrived, Michael had decorated it very sparsely. Decoration is not the right word, because it was missing all kinds of essential furniture. But I was prepared for this, and part of my savings were set aside for this very reason. By filling up the house with things I bought, I started feeling more at home.

After a while I followed my trainer to a different barn. This was further away, but in such a beautiful place with beautiful people. They inspired me to get serious in the equine world. We spend a lot of time together with riding, lunches and hanging out at the barn.

This could not last forever, and when I got my working permit it was time to find a job. Michael gave me the time to search for the right job and did not pressure me at all. After a month of searching and applying for mediocre jobs (in my opinion of course) I found a perfect fit. Animal caretaker at a sanctuary. I wrote a rushed, hurried but passionate cover letter and sent it within an hour of finding the opening. Within a week I was hired and working.

I have my man, my hobbies, my friends and my job. This is the most fulfilled I have ever felt. The things that matter to me most I have pursued diligently when I moved across the ocean. I saw and see this as an opportunity to live the life I WANT and make my own choices. Not the life that is easiest to glide into, not the life that is "expected". I'm surrounded by beautiful nature, and wonderful animals. These things make me happy.

Often I look at the sky, or the trees or a bird soaring, and take a deep breath to appreciate the moment. I'm truly living in the present right now and am so grateful not to be burdened by the past or the future. Yes I do miss everyone, but it doesn't effect my happiness. I think about the fun we had, and the fun we will have when we meet again!