When the Carnival Miracle docked in Ft. Lauderdale on November 10th, we scurried over to the airport, rented a Jeep Grand Cherokee, and zoomed down the highway for three days of fun and excitement in sunny Orlando, Florida. Or as we like to call it: Home, Sweet Home.
Only it isn't, really. Not anymore.
Instead of heading back to our adorable house near downtown where we could unpack, wash laundry, and relax after eight days of adventure on the open seas, we were heading to a hotel on Disney property. We never even drove by our house.
Instead of spending a lazy Sunday making a Target run or gorging ourselves at Pei Wei with our roommate Kris, we were inviting our friend Kris to join us for a couple of days of fun at Disney and Universal.
Instead of inviting our friends Ryan and Mike to dinner at Disney's Hoop-de-Doo Musical Revue, we....okay, well, we did do that. But the music has changed somewhat. And we have no idea when that happened.
And as for our other friends? The people we spent the last eight or so years getting to know? We didn't see any of them. Some have moved to other cities. A few were on vacations of their own. Others were busy. And some we've just simply lost contact with.
This was TJ's first trip back to Orlando since our whirlwind life in the Foreign Service began in February 2010. But not mine. I had returned once before, in June 2010, to do some work on our house and prepare it for renters. At the time, I blogged about how difficult the transition had been for me, how I was having trouble reconciling our happy life in Orlando with our new life in (at the time) D.C.
And now? I can't imagine life any other way.
Sure, I miss Orlando and the life we built there. We both do. But it was also ridiculously fun to go back and experience all the new things we missed out on while away. I got to watch as TJ enjoyed the new Harry Potter attractions at Universal's Islands of Adventure for the first time (something I got to do on my last visit). We got to experience the EPCOT International Food and Wine Festival with renewed fervor after a one year absence (happy to report that the tacos were surprisingly authentic). I got to stay in a Disney hotel (okay, so the Dolphin isn't a Disney hotel, but it's on property, so I say it counts) for the first time ever.
We celebrated our one year anniversary in Mexico on November 8th. We were Florida-bound, somewhere in the Atlantic Ocean, floating alongside the Dominican Republic, at the time.
As much fun as the vacation was, on that particular day I found myself wishing we could have celebrated the occasion in Puerto Vallarta, or Manzanillo. Somewhere...Mexican. [NOTE: Tomorrow I will be celebrating my one year anniversary of working at the Consulate...at the Consulate. I also wish this could be celebrated in Puerto Vallarta or Manzanillo.]
Because Mexico is Home, Sweet Home now.
Only it isn't, really. Or at least not for long.
The hardest part about this life of ours is that as soon as you get comfortable with your surroundings, it's time to get yourself some new surroundings. Of course, that's also the most exciting part about this life of ours.
We will be receiving our bid list soon. As hard as it is to believe, we have less than a year left in Guadalajara. Where we go after that is anyone's guess.
Who knows? Who cares?
I love life in the Foreign Service. Getting to live in a new countries. Making friends around the world. Learning about new cultures and languages. Trying new foods. Taking day trips to places you never even knew existed.
It's all super exciting.
And once you're able to let go of the old concept of home, the sky's the limit.
Just like old times. Me looking one way,
TJ looking another, and Kris hanging on for dear life.