My 6-month work stint in Europe has come to an end. Today I have flown back to what I have been calling home for the past seven years. I am supposed to write that “it seems like yesterday I arrived in Innsbruck”, and that these six months “have just flown by” but… that is not really how it feels. If anything, it seems like I have been gone for years. These have been six intense months, not only professionally.
I have been traveling a lot, not only to attend conferences and present seminars, but also to see family and friends. It has been exhausting, I feel tired and I have been missing home. It was great seeing my wife at the airport in Edmonton, a couple hours ago, and it does feel great to be home. I have to say, though, that I have enjoyed more than I expected the time spent in Innsbruck and Lyon, two cities very different from each other, each with its own individual flavor. Being in Europe in many respects just “felt right”.
I have lived on the west side of the pond for almost half of my life (practically all my adult one), am now a Canadian citizen, find Canada and Alberta great places to live, and frankly believe that it would take me a while to become re-adjusted to life in a place like my country of birth, for instance.
At the same time, I have to admit to feeling melancholic. There are things about Europe that I miss, and these six months have reminded me of them. But there are also things about the United States, where I spent perhaps the most important fifteen years of my life, that I miss.
I shall be turning forty-six at the end of this year. That makes me neither young nor old, I guess — it does make me old enough that maybe some long-term planning is in order. I have lived in five different cities over the past two decades. It has been interesting and fun, but at this point I really need to settle down in a place where I shall enjoy living as a retiree, whenever that happens, for I would not want to relocate again when I retire.
There are two questions that come to mind: where and when. I honestly do not know where I would want to relocate, if I were to move one more time (the last one). I am not sure if a place with a climate as harsh as where I live now is what I want for my silver years, even though, as I said, it is objectively a fine place to live; nor am I dead set on moving back to Europe or to the United States, even though both options are appealing in their own right.
But it is mostly the when that concerns me. I am not the type of person who, at sixty-five or around that age, would move to a new place, buy a new house, try to establish (essentially from scratch) new friendship ties, create a support group whose importance becomes significant as one ages, settle into a new daily routine, learn to live in a new place.
A few lucky ones get to live at a young age in their “perfect” place, which offer all that they need both professionally as well as personally. But life forces most of us to compromise, spending extended periods of time in locations that on balance work for us, but are not quite what we would regard as our “dream” locations. Also, the perfect spot at thirty may not be quite so perfect at fifty, for a number of different reasons.
So, when is it too late to make another “final” move ? How many of us have a “deadline” in mind, past which they simply end up regarding ourselves as “stuck” wherever they are, with all its pros and cons ? How many simply keep moving as long as new opportunities arise, not thinking about settling any place ever ?