In a little under two months, we move to Lisbon, Portugal, via a month in England with family. The tickets are bought, temporary housing arranged, and next week we meet with the property management person to discuss renting out our house.

Every time I get in the car, go to the gym, or go on a walk, I hit “play” on my iPod and am reminded all over again what an agonizingly, moronically slow process it is to learn another language, one that requires sounding like a three-year-old for a ridiculously long time until suddenly one day it clicks, and you finally know how to ask for more than the simplest of directions.

I spent a half hour yesterday being bounced back and forth between the British consulate’s automated phone system and website in pursuit of a simple answer: where do I send our marriage certificate to prove that my husband is in fact married to me, a British citizen, and thus deserving of a residency card in Portugal without putting us through the lengthy process of getting a long-term visa?

In other words, even though it’s still almost two months til we physically leave, each day takes me one step further away from our lives here. I recognize the pattern from having traveled and lived abroad in the past — each detail I arrange, each thing I check off my list, moves move further into the no-man’s-land between one destination and the next.

In order to make the separation easier when it comes, I begin distancing myself long before the day of departure, eventually becoming a tourist in my own life. Suddenly everything seems familiar and yet somehow out of place, as if I’m a visitor from a foreign land. I try to savor every detail of my world, my house, my life, but still it slips away as soon as I grasp it, and soon it will be gone, replaced by new adventures and places, forever changed when I return.

Travel and moving are always like this for me — I don’t move my possessions as much as I transfer my soul. Right now, I’m entering the gray area between one place and the next, but hopefully I will reemerge in the fall to find a beautiful, sunny city full of strange, familiar things awaiting me on the other side.

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