It happens.

Hello, sports fans. It’s been a hot minute since I’ve written here. But don’t take that as me being lazy. Quite the contrary.

Where to start?

Firstly, I’m abroad. Back home. And by “home,” I mean “America.” Not the UK. And it’s weird, because looking back across my life I guess I’ve travelled a lot. Lived in many places. Mostly due to the military, naturally, but also of my own accord. Dad famously told all us kids to leave. Leave the house at 18. Leave the town. Leave the state. Heck, leave the country. Go explore. Go see other places, peoples, cultures. Get out there and see what else there is. And then, and only then, if we still really want to come back and live where we grew up, come back.

Tellingly, none of us kids has come back. I mean, it’s not that I don’t want to go back to Minnesota and raise my kids there. I might consider it if other factors weren’t in play. But they are. I’ve got my husband’s career to consider, my own military career to consider, schools, English family, American family, culture, guns, health care, politics, taxes, investments, housing costs, fuel costs, you name it. There are a million swirling considerations zooming around that tie into my, our, decision to stay in England. At least for now. But I do like travelling.

I’m in the Northern Virginia area. It feels like coming home, partly because it is. I was born in Alexandria, raised in Arlington. My sister has been bomb-diggity enough to lend me her car for my stay, which is awfully nice of her. (America is not known for being pedestrian-friendly…) I’ve had it in my mind for a decade or two now to do a drive-by of the house I grew up in. It’s not weird at all, despite the protests of my husband. More than a few times while growing up on our Minnesota farm we’d have “strangers” drive up the drive, get out, and ring the doorbell. Turns out, they had lived here before us. And you know what? I really liked that. I liked meeting the people who had shared (good) memories of that house. It connected us even though we just met. And I kind of want to do that now. Walk. Ding-dong. Hi, I used to live here. May I come in?

Secondly, I’m working full time this month. The kids stayed home, which means I’m gloriously freed of the parenting responsibilities for 30 days. It feels weird. And wonderful. And guilty. Maybe now that our son is 18 months old, it’s a better time to “return” to work. The real reason I’m here is that there’s unused fiscal year money from the government that needs spending. And I jumped on that chance. Not only to make a decent paycheck (and it is decent), but to transfer units, check-in properly, get my credentials sorted, finish admin, and generally further my career. Being in the military is similar to running a marathon (half-marathon in my case): just keep putting one foot in front of the other. Suddenly, you look back and it’s been 20 years, or 13.1 miles. Crazy, but quite logical.

So, I’m making some dough. During my off-hours, I’ve been helping my sister move, as she’s also just transferred units and apartments. We’ve hung out for food, games, hikes when we can. It’s been nice. I’m not normally so accessible, what with living an ocean apart. I sometimes wish I lived on the same continent, but it would require moving the whole gang. (See “Firstly,” above.) I’ve also made it a priority to work out (that fitness test isn’t going to run itself in two weeks) and get solid sleep. I’m so worthless when I’m tired, and I’ve been tired a lot over the past four years. Seriously. No one told me just how hard it would be to have little kids, even in just the sleep department. I feel my hubs and I are finally entering the “seeing the light” stage of this, finally emerging from the fog of sleep deprivation like the cast of Frozen II from the forest.

I’m also writing. When I applied for my grant, I was tasked with creating a “highlights” timeline. Stuff I’d get done to show I was a good investment for Arts Council England’s money. Intuitively, I knew this timeline – and the ways in which I would spend their money – was key to being looked at seriously. It was an ass-pain to put together, but I persisted. I made an incredibly realistic timeline based on school breaks and training days, vacation periods, U.S. and U.K. holidays, and progress on my manuscript. Yet, I also tried to make it flexible. For instance, September’s goal is to write 10,000 words. I’m at 7,693 including this sentence. I have, essentially, two weekends left to make my goal. And I think it’s doable. I think I’ve actually made, and stayed on track for, a SMART goal. You know: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-Bound. It’s nerdily exciting.

Thirdly, I’m upping my social life. I hear you laugh, but I’m not a natural extrovert. At best, I’m an ambivert (yes, that’s a thing). I have to work to get out. Yeah, yeah, I’m a good pretender. And I enjoy getting together with friends for coffee or dinner or a play date or a doggy date. Those are easy wins. But dragging my happy self to a drinks thing? Or to a party where I won’t know anyone? Not my thing. I’d rather stay in and read, start a puzzle, doze with the cat. Maybe it’s just that I like my unicorn time, a phrase introduced to me by my older sister that defines the fleeting time we have to do our own thing, focus on our own interests. You know, that time we had in spades before we were married, had kids, or got bogged down in work. I had so many hobbies I was interested in when I was little, even in high school. I understand the phase of life I’m in is necessarily short on unicorn time, what with keeping two small people alive and a husband relatively happy with our relationship, but I am anticipating the little slices of free time I’m winning back to refocus on some of these hobbies. Writing is just one of the many that I’m aggressively pursuing right now. And, hey, I might even make a little money doing it.

So, that’s me in a nutshell right now. I love my kids, I love my husband, I love England, but I also love my career, my U.S. family, and my free time. I guess the goal is balance.

Happy goals to all y’all.

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