Trailing spouse, accompanying partner. Apparently there are terms for us spouses who relocate their families due to a partner’s work assignment or the like. I didn’t know that when I first moved. I found out years later when I first wrote a post for Tala on the subject. She was a “trailing spouse” too and we often exchanged stories and insights as to how we could better cope with our situation.
As it turns out, Tala and her friend Didi recently launched a Blog Crawl, and she invited me to participate in it. They call it #TrailingSpouseStories, with the aim to learn from and support other trailing spouses no matter where in the world we all may be. This month’s theme is all about that “First Voyage”.
I feel like a Throwback Thursday when it’s really a Monday. 🙂
I’m trying to think back to the months leading up to our first move to Chapel Hill six years ago. I remember feeling a variety of emotions. I’d always wanted to live outside of Manila so I was excited and I looked forward to the experience. I was apprehensive because I was pregnant with Sam and didn’t know the first thing about being a parent abroad. I was also worried because I was leaving my business and I didn’t know how I’d be able to continue it from there. While in my head I welcomed the change, it was against my innate nature.
Eventually I adapt, but it does take time. So I know I need help in making that adjustment.
As you may already know, I’m a picture-person. I love photos and I take lots of them, because they brings back memories of a time and place that once was.
It all started when my husband and I started traveling together. In the decade and a half (I just dated ourselves!) of our relationship, one of the things we liked to do was see the world (kinda makes me wish I owned a magic carpet no? 😉 ). It’s an expensive hobby I know, so it doesn’t happen very often!
On these travels, I’d look for some memento to bring back as a reminder of the trip. My husband — the practical person that he is — would always discourage me. What would I do with it? It’s a waste of money and it’ll just gather dust. “Take a photo instead, it’s free,” was his money-saving solution.
I actually thought his idea was genius. A picture captures the moment better than a magnet or a shirt probably ever could. But I did want to frame it and put it somewhere. So in the end, he didn’t save money — since he had to buy me a picture frame from that place anyway. I was happy with any frame, so he would pick some
cheap affordable ones. That was ok though, because in the end I still got what I wanted. 😉
He stopped resisting this “expense” soon enough because I really wouldn’t leave without my picture and my picture frame souvenir. It became a mandatory from every major trip.
And so to this day, we continue this tradition with the kids.
These travel photos are displayed in every new home we make. It’s not always in high traffic areas (in our Manila home it was in a room that people hardly visited), but it’s important for me to have it with us. More than the physical item, it’s the memories and the stories we share with the girls (repeatedly) when they see it and ask. It’s become a ritual of sorts when they see it unpacked. They love having it around too.
It’s never easy to move. Whether it’s in the same city, the same building, or a different country altogether, there’s still that element of newness that’s just as unsettling as it is exciting. No two homes are exactly alike. This collection of traveling photos gives it some semblance of familiarity. I like to think it anchors us into accepting this new place as our home. So I always allot space in the suitcases to carry them with us.
My hope is we keep adding to these pictures. We grow the collection together as a family. And no matter where in the world we go, we’d always bring a part of those travels home with us — wherever “home” may be for us.
Read about the other trailing spouses’ stories by clicking on their links below. If you’d like to contribute, please do email firstname.lastname@example.org.