Arriving in the USA was a culture shock, the grocery stores were huge (bigger than I had seen in Canada, and definitely grander than those in Indonesia), and offered far too much selection, I found it quite overwhelming just to pick out a box of cereal. Adjusting was going to be a process, one that I hadn't taken into account.
My husbands car was with a friend in Las Vegas, so that's where we flew into, after five years of island life, we landed in a three ring circus. Lights, shows, gambling and buffets, truly surreal and rather comical coming from my simple, humble, meditative life. Thrown right into the lions den, I honestly wouldn't have had it happen any other way. So many "firsts" in-store for me, and for us. It was a magical time, those few days, my eyes wide and heart open.
After staying for some time with his good friend in his awesome condo, it was time to pack up the car, and set off for the east coast. An epic road trip was just what the universe ordered, we swung by the Grand Canyon, I still have no words to describe that wonder, my mind cannot process that magnitude of beauty. We drove thousands of miles, through all kinds of weather and were blessed with incredible scenery. But not nearly as blessed as I was about to experience, meeting my husbands parents.
We drove into the early evening, arriving with a little bit of sun at our backs, right into the quaint town of New Albany, in the state of Mississippi. We were greeted with genuine southern hospitality, wedding gifts and the best part, smiles and warm hugs. At 44 years old, I finally had in-laws, and what kindhearted in-laws they are. Thumbing through old photos, including baby pictures of my man, while listening to family stories was the icing on the cake, not only was he an adorable baby, he's turned out be an equally sweet man. After a few days, it was time to travel on.
Next stop, Florida! Ah the ocean, oh how I've missed you so. Forget the ocean, how lucky am I that not only is my husband from Georgia, a gorgeous state, but he's also only one state away from Florida, and guess who lives there six months of the year, my parents! The excitement was building exponentially, the drive seemed endless, but we made it. Reunited with my mom and dad after nearly three years, tears of joy! The last time I saw them in person was when they had come to visit me for a month in Bali in late 2012. And now I was about to hug them and introduce them to their new son-in-law, could life get any sweeter?
After spending a couple of days together, bonding, dining and sharing stories, we said our goodbyes and hit the road for Georgia. Fortunately we won't need to wait years to visit again, my folks will drive through Georgia in October.
Oh Georgia, you sure are a peachy state, full of trees and green spaces, boasting mountains, beaches, rivers, farmlands and lakes, where to live, where to live?
Choosing and area was a no brainer, just north of Atlanta there's a reason to settle down, two beautiful reasons, my husbands daughters. Finding a home, that posed tremendous difficulty, and was a heck of a lot of stress. Housing was scarce, prices were outrageously high, and we had nothing but clothing, technology, helmets, a car and a bag filled with memories and souvenirs for the girls. We took a weekly hotel so that we could regroup, and figure out our next move, hoping that there would be a move at all.
We scoured ads, and decided to put out our desperate feelers on social media, hey, it brought us together right? The algorithms came to our rescue once again, not only were we connected with a temporary accommodation, but we were also offered a wonderful honeymoon surprise! We firmed up a move in date for the beginning of June 2015, and accepted a generous gift of a cabin in North Carolina that would cover the days between our new tenancy. But before leaving for our sacred time together, we needed to do two very important things.
Trying to find an outfit was all of a sudden the forefront of my mind, I was about to meet my step daughters. I'd never been more excited (and nervous) in my life, so many feelings washed over me on the drive to their house, once again my life was about to change. The girls we reunited with dad, it had been several months since they interacted, and he was no longer alone. We connected over a meal, it was awkward, to say the least, totally not a Disney moment, but nonetheless, it was special, and exactly as God intended it to be.
On May 15, 2015 Mark and I were legally married in the state of Georgia by a judge in the Gwinnett County courthouse. With the paperwork in hand, and a video of our ceremony on our phone, we were happily back on the road again for one final adventure. Chimney Rock, North Carolina. A sweet spot amongst the trees, with a hot tub, full kitchen and a chance to get to know each other under new conditions as "husband and wife". A truly memorable time.
We returned to Georgia, moved into a bedroom with a private bathroom, in a shared house with a nice Colombian family. Stressful times were on the horizon, a test of our marriage came quickly and unexpectedly. It's one thing to stay in a bedroom, it's another to find yourself trapped in it, with no where to go. Melt down! All of a sudden I was aching for Bali, missing the freedom of the open roads on a scooter, taking in the sights, sounds and friends, ah yes, the truth always finds its way out. I was feeling inadequate, doubting myself and abilities. Once again I was in another country where I was unable to legally work, I hadn't learned how to drive a car, and I was trying to learn how to feed my husband while sharing a kitchen and fridge with a woman who had a kind heart but a firm grip on her space - I was starting to lose my mind.
Our relationship was being challenged daily, sometimes by the nanosecond, the only saving grace was an abundance of local parks and ponds to stroll through. Mark and I were spending every second together, with no breathing room, trial and error is the only thing I can say about this stress filled time. We were appreciative of having a place to lay our heads, but we needed to get out. Things grew crazy there, we were ready to call it quits on several occasions, but perseverance paid off.
My husband, often a quiet and reserved man, has a lot of insight. At the end of our rope, but on a whim, we arranged to meet a friend of mine from Canada who was passing through the state. We drove from suburbia to a sleepy town, about an hour away, called "Athens". Wow, it had such a calm vibe, we had to investigate this town after departing from our visit. We knew within days that this is where we needed to be, the location was only thirty minutes from the girls and boasted all kinds of shops, greenery, parks and had local transit.
Athens is home to the University of Georgia (UGA), it is vibrant and energetic during the school year, and sleepy in the summer months. It is also home to a college football team, college kids, music, arts and some really decent dining. That intuitive man of mine selected a newly built luxury apartment for us to move into, fully furnished, and right downtown allowing me to walk everywhere. At long last we were finally on our own, just like we were meant to be as a newly married couple.
(On a side note, I still find it humorous that after living on my own in both Canada and Indonesia, here I was again buying pots and pans, plates and silverware, I swear this is the LAST TIME.)
August 15th we moved in, what a year it has been!
Fast forward to August 2016. This year has taught me many valuable lessons, and has also delivered many wonderful blessings. I've gone through a lot of ups and downs, and inside outs. I even lost my joy for a time, but through it all, I've hung in tight, trusting the process, knowing that there are no let downs, just leg ups!
I've embraced a nanny position with a sweet family, and have also taken the best care I can of my own unique family. Embracing two young ladies who've captured my heart, being a step-mom has been fun and challenging, but oh so worth the effort and patience. I'm constantly seeing new sides to my personality, and healing the little girl within has been a delicious side-effect.
In January I granted myself the opportunity to sit another 10-Day Vipassana meditation course, this time in my now home state of Georgia. It was just what I needed. But before heading off into silence, we finalized all of my paperwork through an immigration lawyer, and submitted it so that my Visa worries would become a thing of the past.
We've seen a few other cities, visited the coast, saw each others families, spent time in counseling, had a few arguments, figured out a home schedule, sorted out domestic chores, and are perpetually pushing each other to grow. It's not always easy, but I've kept peace, God and meditation as my go to place within.
Now that I'm feeling more settled into North American living, I'm really concentrating on nurturing my body, nourishing my spirit and living a balanced life that agrees with who I am, and is inline with my soul.
Publishing my first book, building a website, offering encouragement, sharing my channelled poetry, and accepting all of the gifts that I know I deserve, I'd say, I'm in my Happy Zone. It's truly liberating to help others, and it is equally liberating to be helped in return. Balance is Key.
May all beings be happy, peaceful and liberated from suffering. May we all Bee Happy.