The Flaggs are adventurers. Always have been and always will be. All three girls (Quincy, Olive, and Pearl) had their first passports by the time they were three months old. And let me tell you, trying to get a three-month old to keep her head straight and eyes open for that passport photo is no walk in the park.
You know what else isn't a walk in the park? Deciding to move across the world with three months' worth of notice. Yup, leave it to us to do just that.
We've always imagined what it'd be like to move our family somewhere foreign for a year and do the whole expat thing. Sounds terribly romantic, right? Of course, it's easy to fantasize about an idea like that when you've got three young kids at your heels and it feels like just that: a fantasy.
But, as any parent can attest, time flies. Especially when a year plus is spent locked down in a house navigating a world pandemic, which made everyone and their dog stir-crazy. Well, maybe not the dogs - they all loved the extra attention. But, everybody and their CAT went stir-crazy last year. We (and our cat, Gladys) were no exception.
Which is partially why, in April, this vague shadow of a conversation presented itself again. We blinked and suddenly, our kids actually felt like "the right" ages to do this thing. How was that even possible?? After checking all their birth certificates just to make sure we did indeed have their accurate current ages accounted for, we decided that yes, now was as good a time as any.
I make it sound like it was an easy decision. I can assure you, it was not. Hell, we weren't even completely certain we were going to do this as of a week ago. The thought of leaving great friends, family, comfort, and familiarity is daunting, to say the least.
...never mind the fact that there's still a world pandemic very much going on... that's a whole different post. But I will say this: we're definitely not being flippant about that piece of the puzzle (I'm saying this in my most serious voice for your peace of mind, my darling loved ones!)
Okay. Got that out of the way. Turning off my serious voice and stepping back into my story-telling pants. Ahem.
Once upon a time (three months ago,) we knew we wanted to live someplace outside of the US, but we didn't know where exactly. And, our list of options ran the gamut - from New Zealand to Switzerland. Australia to Italy. Spain to Costa Rica. Just kidding. We never considered Costa Rica, but now I'm wondering why not...
Here was our criteria as we explored possibilities. I'll give you a brief play-by-play as to how we landed on Portugal:
- Someplace with a great expat (foreign residents) community. Check! Portugal is booming with expats right now thanks to the country really inviting that culture in.
- Someplace not too big. We're small town mice. Cascais (outside of Lisbon) is about the same size as Boulder. Check check!
- Someplace with a personality-rich international school for the girls. This was the first piece of the puzzle for me. Once I found this school, everything else seemed trivial. A big check check check!
- Someplace with vegetarian food options for the mama. Sorry to say it, Europe, but you're still not that veggie-friendly. No offense. I mean, not that I don't love abiding by a diet of strictly bread and cheese when I visit you for a couple weeks, but let's be honest... that wouldn't end well after an entire year. Maybe it's silly, but I wanted to make sure I'd have more than just chicken fingers, hold the chicken as an option when we went out to dinner. Well, lo and behold, did you know Portugal is the first country in the world that legally requires every restaurant to have a vegan option on their menu?? Amazing what a little research can find you. Five bonus points to Portugal! Check check...you get the point...
- Someplace with lots of nature and culture for the dada. Anyone who's even seen a single picture of Portugal can say with confidence this exists there.
Of course, I gave away the punchline a long time ago. Rookie move, Story-teller... Let's act excited about the revelation together anyway: PORTUGAL! Portugal is the answer!
Had we ever been to Portugal? No. Do any of us speak Portuguese? Also no. Did we have joint lucid dreams about how we were meant to move to Portugal and then wake up with a choir of angels singing "Por-tu-gallll!" over our heads? Well...sadly also no. But, we chose the country anyway. Because as our favorite green witch says, you've got to trust your instinct, close your eyes and leap!!!
If you'll excuse me for a minute, I think I feel a show tune coming on.
Okay, I'm back (she says while setting her broom down next to her on the counter.)
The bottom line is, it's happening! We're moving across the Atlantic in a mere week and a half. I spent the last two weeks packing up our house for our renters. No, I haven't actually packed any bags for the trip yet. Minor details. And hey, on the plus side - as of five days ago, we've finally secured a house to live in over there! Three cheers for not being homeless! If you can't tell, it's a bit of a fly-by-the-seat-of-our-pants moment, but if you really think about it, that's more often than not how things tend to pan out anyway in this crazy little thing called life - whether we like it or not. Better to roll with it than resist it, eh? Am I just telling myself this to try to stay upright these next ten days? Maybe don't answer that...
Nah, I really am feeling okay about it all. We've got this! And if/when we don't, we'll ride those waves and figure it out together as a family! At least the human part of our family will... poor Gladys the cat has no idea she's about to embark on the adventure of a lifetime... I'm sure she'd use different verbiage if she knew how.
Wish Gladys (and us) luck!