Sean and I aren’t big Valentine’s Day people. In fact, had it not been for the fact that every place we tried to get dinner reservations at tonight was fully booked, we actually might have forgotten that today was V-day altogether. While it may seem a bit cliche or BS to some, we really believe that love shouldn’t need a holiday. That each day is an opportunity to do special things for one another, to be grateful for each other’s company and to express those feelings through words and actions. Some days we are better about demonstrating that philosophy than others, but altogether I think we do a pretty darn good job.
That being said, I thought it would be a great opportunity to dedicate a well-deserved post 100% to him and how wonderful he has been during the past 9 months of this crazy journey we’re on….I honestly don’t think I could have made it alone this time.
For some moving to another country is an obvious choice and 100% excitement. Those people have usually either traveled a lot or moved earlier in life as children or adolescents, so the transition is more of a gradual step than a 0-100 in less than 10 seconds type of move. For Sean the move was of the latter type, having been born, raised, grown, matured and entered adulthood all in the quaint suburb of Burlington, MA. Oh yeah, there was like a 3 minute move to Westerly, RI somewhere in there, but a quick return back to Burlington. Not only was he not used to dealing with other cultures, he actually hates to fly. This is typically evidenced by the amount of vodka he must drink before getting on the plane and how numb my hand usually is after we land from his chokehold of a grip. Despite his comfort zone, his fears and the family and friends he holds dear back home, he was open to having a discussion the day this opportunity came up and trusted me- trusted US- enough to give it a whirl.
The first couple months weren’t easy for either of us. And although mine were pretty hellish due to a new job and difficult culture I was struggling to fit into, at least I had routine interaction with a few familiar faces and some sort of schedule to give me an immediate purpose. Sean took a leap a faith by quitting his job in the states and for the first 2 1/2 months spent every hour that I was at work at home… either job searching, keeping the cat company or helping us get our life in place in a system that defies logic and sends all correspondence in the Dutch language only. I can only imagine that those had to be some of the loneliest, most frustrating, and highly unsettling days he has had to face in his life thus far. I have the utmost respect for him because through it all, he never once “blamed” me or made any challenge that either of us encountered seem like it was my fault for being the reason we came here. We made a decision to take on this adventure TOGETHER, and he has not once gone back on it. He has brought 100% to this life we are living, even though it has pushed him beyond all comfort zones he once had. Which leads to my next point…
He has been the definition of courage and sacrifice. Our original plan was that Sean would have the opportunity to refocus his career path in a direction that played more to his strengths and interests- one that offered him a non-psycho manager and limited his frequent travel. After tens of applications it became clear that it wasn’t going to be as easy of a task as it was on paper or as many dutch labor market experts had predicted. And so when ERM, his former employer, offered a 6-month contract with their Dutch office he accepted with a gracious attitude, knowing that it was a means to an end and would allow us to travel the way we had planned while still maintaining a relatively comfortable lifestyle. That job has sent him away from home during many work weeks and thus far to very random parts of 3 countries on his own, with colleagues who often have different cultural values and limited to no english speaking capabilities. In just 3 months he has already been recommended for a promotion and become an independent explorer halfway across the world- something he could not have even fathomed ever doing in his life just a few years ago.
I am also personally grateful at how much of a rock he has been for me. Even during the days I have come home from work angry, frustrated, or crying he has never made me question myself for having made the choices we have. I used to sometimes take for granted how he whispers in my ear each morning, “You’re amazing and beautiful” and yells “Hello my beautiful wife!” every time I come home. When you have an identity in your surroundings and are embraced by friends, family and inspired colleagues close by, those simple acts can somehow not seem as powerful. Here, in a foreign place, those acts of kindness have become staples to my day and moments of proof that I am not alone on this journey.
Thank you, and happy every day to you, Sean Michael Colella!