One year ago today Mark, Dexter and I woke up in Burnham, Buckinghamshire, England. We arose early, looking over our little home for the last time. Within the hour, a taxi had arrived to take us (and our five large suitcases containing all our worldly possessions) to Heathrow Airport.
We’d already had several boxes picked up a few days prior, and they would arrive at our new destination within a few months.
The day before we left, I had made sure to take photos all around town – afraid of forgetting what it all looked like. I took a blurry iphone photo of Dexter, as well, and it is one of the last pictures of him as the little English boy he is.
Once at the airport, Dexter had fun just running around, looking at airplanes and playing with random passengers. He’d flown several times in the past, despite being barely a year old. And I doubt he knew that it would be a long time before he would fly again.
We arrived in Florida just as it was getting dark. The first thing we noticed was the heat. By the time we got our bags and picked up our rental car, it was very dark. We drove nearly an hour, looking for our rental house that would serve as our short term home. We spent ages driving around, unable to find the correct road, and when we finally arrived, it was to a development that was less than ideal. But we’d made it, and that was what was important. It was just before midnight.
Over the next few days and weeks, we spent most of our time exploring and looking for a house to buy. We visited the Disney parks and SeaWorld, and we discovered all of the fun places nearby.
In those first days, we were always trying to find a playground for Dexter. We ended up trespassing on a community playground which was for residents only of a small development down the road from us. Ironically, the playground we found and used for a while is the same one which now belongs to US. It may have taken us nearly a year, but we moved to that same development and now own our home here. Dexter plays on that playground all the time – without trespassing.
We’ve all changed in the last year. We’ve moved three times. We’ve had hair cuts for the boys, while mommy grew her hair out. We got pregnant and had a baby, giving Dexter a little brother. We have had family from both sides come and stay. We’ve bought a house to make a home. We’ve gone swimming in pools and at the beach. We’ve explored and discovered much that our adopted state has to offer. We’ve made friends and created new connections. We’ve fallen in love again and again, with each other and with life.
Nothing worked the way we thought it would work. It’s been peaks and troughs all over the place. We’ve had the highest highs and the lowest lows, and in the end, we’ve come through it better people and a better family.
I think it’s safe to say that we are OFFICIALLY proper Floridians. Who’d have thunk it?