Denied

We’d been traveling through Germany and Austria for five days when my husband got the message:

“Your extension request has been denied.”

A road trip with three kids was never going to be easy. Someone got carsick, another skipped an entire night of sleep, and we got lost more times than I ever thought possible. On top of that, everything was in a different language so even basic tasks like ordering food took a bit more effort. We were travel weary and, while grateful for the opportunity to share the world with our children, also looked forward to the familiarity of home.

So when my husband’s phone chimed and he read the words “denied,” it felt like someone had kicked me in the stomach.

We’ve lived in England for nearly seven years and it has become our home in every sense of the word. I adore this little island and all it’s quirks and differences. The conventions which were once so strange - driving on the left side of the road, doing laundry in my kitchen, saying ‘trousers’ instead of ‘pants’ - they’re all the customs that now feel familiar and safe.

And suddenly, that home was no longer our home.

The extension denial meant we would be sent back to America in November 2019. We had exhausted every last option to stay and this was it. And suddenly, the weariness of travel felt permanent. We’ve moved before, several times in fact, and it’s always an exhausting, tiresome process; much like exploring a new city in a foreign country. You get lost. You don’t know where to grab a quick bite to eat. Dialects and phrases are different. None of the faces are familiar.

All the difficulties we had encountered over the past five days suddenly seemed insurmountable. I just wanted to go home and that simple longing brought sadness not unlike mourning. This life we’ve built over the past seven years is coming to a close and there’s nothing we can do to stop it.

I don’t want to go.

As we flew over Bavaria and descended on lush, green Suffolk farmlands, my head and my heart were at odds. I was home, yet I wasn’t. Life may be propelling us to a new place, but I will always make my way back here: to the familiar faces, the welcome greeting of “you alright?,” and the comfort of knowing where I fit in. There’s no denying it.

This is home.