The Big Irish Move: Our Family’s Relocation From the U.S. to Ireland

 

Alternate Title: Amexit, Hell Yeah!

Moving the Cats to Ireland

July 17, 2018
I always knew that my cats (4 of them, yikes!) would be a major difficulty in the move. They eliminate 2/3 of the rental house market right off the bat, and there is the challenge of transport overseas. But they are family, so there is no other option but to pull up my panties and fight through it.

First challenge: Finding transport. This ended up being far more complicated than I anticipated. It turns out that pets can only enter Ireland via Dublin (whereas we would typically fly in through Shannon). And once they arrive, they are taken directly to a veterinary clinic for review of their paperwork and health. Usually (hopefully), within an hour of landing you can pick up your cats and go on your jolly way.

Okay, so our destination for the BIG MOVE must be Dublin. And since our four cats sadly must travel in the hold of the plane, flight connections only add to the risk that they could be in peril or lost. So, we need a direct flight, Detroit to Dublin. Buuuuut that doesn’t exist. In fact there are only direct flights to Dublin from about 6 major cities in the U.S. and Canada. The closest one to us? Toronto, Canada.

Holy hell. That means that now, our moving plan includes traveling by rental car, with our luggage and four cats, across an international border (U.S. to Canada), driving a total of about five hours to Toronto, and then boarding a plane for a 6-hour international flight. We then arrive in Dublin, retrieve the cats from the vet, and then drive another 3 hours to our new home.

Idiot me originally thought that we would show up at Detroit Metro Airport, board a plane to Shannon, and 6 hours later we’d land and drive 30 minutes to home. Nope. Three total countries. Four cats. A mountain of luggage. Two different rental cars. And one bigass jet landing in a city I’ve never seen.

I learned this all yesterday. Sigh.

The potential good news? I have my eye on a rental house that appears amazing (from what I can see online…). It’s on a working farm, it’s quaint, the price is right, and it’s very close to Dave’s work. And the cats? Doable. Hallelujah. Oh, I really, really want this house to stay on the market long enough for me to view it on Monday. I really hope this will be home!

We Sold Our House, and I Saw Archie Bunker’s Chair

July 15, 2018
If some giant mystical being could take a finger and flick your life so it tipped over, I suppose this is what it might feel like. Not in a terrible way, but with a discombobulating, dizzying effect nevertheless.

Less than a week ago we put our house on the market. Almost immediately we had over 25 showings and two offers.

Listen, you don’t have to be moving internationally to understand that having your house available for real estate showings is one of the most stressful and hellish experiences you will go through as a homeowner. For example, since this is summertime, I have my 10 year-old with me. So I have to find ways to keep her from turning into a giant hormone that hulks out and rips my head off for a snack. And thanks to a really crappy run of “summer blockbuster movies”, I finally just had to give in and rent a local motel room to camp out in just for the a/c and some outlets to charge electronics. Okay, plus maybe that let me take a midday nap. So sue me. It was well-deserved since it was immediately preceded by a breakdown of epic sobbing and exhaustion.

Then, in the midst of everything, I got approval to visit the Luxembourg consulate in Washington D.C. to secure our EU passports. And by approval, I mean that I was summoned with no notice. Off we flew then, just me and my daughter the very next day after our respite in the motel room.

D.C. was cool, I suppose. I mean, I saw Archie Bunker’s chair at the Smithsonian, and all. But the upshot is that the deal to sell our house was brokered from a hipster D.C. hotel room with calls relaying between me, the realtor, and my husband. Not how I pictured any of this.

Well, out of all of this, the good news is that we got a nice bucket of money in the deal, but we have to vacate our house sooner than expected. Oh boy.

Remember how I was supposed to fly to Ireland in 6 weeks to scout for homes? Well, we have had to move that up. Now I’m flying out a week from today. All by myself. And renting a car and driving in Europe for the first time ever. I know zero people in the new town and have no contacts whatsoever, just reservations for a rental car and a somewhat shady hotel room over a raucousy pub. My wildly difficult mission: To find a rental home that will accept us and our cats. Then scout local schools, and leap tall buildings in a single bound. All on my lonesome.

This is cra-ay-ay-zeeee. I never dreamed I would or could do such things, but it’s happening. And I’m pretty terrified. Not gonna lie.

So this update’s good news recap is that the house sold quickly, and now I can make some messes around the house again. Plus my cats are back on speaking terms with me now that there aren’t strangers interrupting their zen. The bad news recap is that I don’t know what I’ll do next week if I can’t find us a home.

Run, Run, Wine

July 3, 2018
Much of the root ripping is complete, but let me tell you, you never want to piss off a couple of mothers the way I have. Wow. Ruthless and relentless. And I respect that, knowing it all comes from a place of love, but I have been through the emotional wringer with both of them, and I don’t think they’re nearly done yet!

Some phrases I have heard:
“You know, I’m approaching the same age when my mother died…”
“Are you prepared for the possibility that you might fail?”
“I’ll be fine, as soon as I get used to the idea of losing a son.”
“Your daughter will be destroyed by this.”
“Katie, I blame you for taking my son away.”

Thanks, moms. Way to be supportive. Sigh. I took it hard at first, but now I think they’re losing a bit of steam. Or I’m getting a little number to it. Or maybe that’s the wine. Mmmmm.

Here are the updates from this past week: I have now gotten quotes from 5 different international movers, though it turns out they are all incestually related. No surprise, the quotes are all about the same.

We hired our realtor and have scheduled a time for a pro photographer to come out and take listing photos.
I’ve had the carpets cleaned.
We’ve stained the back deck.
We’ve painted the trim on the shed.
We put out 18 tons of garbage and donations in our driveway.
I sold a few antiques and trinkets to the local pawn shop.
We bought plane tickets for our scouting trip in about six weeks.
And yes, I’ve even started a little packing as part of the “declutter” effort.

It’s been since early days with an infant since I’ve been so tired, and much like back then, my waistline seems to think it’s pound-packin’ time! Stupid stress weight. Stupid stress wine.

In summary: I’m¬†holding off my family of lions with as many chairs as I can wield, and this sticky, sweaty 100+-degree box haulin’ weather with my overly snug shorts crawling up every crevice has made it very easy to dream of the salty cool air of Ireland.

Ripping Up the Roots

June, 2018
Have you ever really cherished a plant? A big, beautiful blooming plant that you’ve cared for since it was a seedling? Gardeners, help out the others here. It’s a nurturing thing. Well, sometimes you need to transplant or split that plant–usually for its own good, so it can thrive and be protected. And while there’s no crying in gardening, your heart breaks just a little when you pull the plant and feel the roots ripping from the soil. It’s a very visceral feeling, that tearing and popping that vibrates through your hands and arms. You try to be gentle and thoughtful, but you wonder if the plant will forgive you.

That plant is my life right now. I began ripping up the roots as of yesterday, June 19. The first tug was definitely the hardest. It’s great to have a dream and a plan, but the moment you actually call the real estate agent to list your house of 14 years is much more emotional that I could have imagined. It isn’t just the sentimentality of the gesture, but the commitment. We are fast approaching the dreaded “Point of No Return” (aaahhhhh!). With every root tear, it’s getting more and more unfeasible that we could put life back the way it was.

I emailed my boss yesterday. I knew he would take it hard. He’s been a wonderful boss who is every bit my mentor. He took a chance on me when no one else would, and now he has entrusted me with his entire practice. I love my job, and I respect the hell out of my boss. So I tried to broach the topic very gently. “We haven’t talked about the future in a while…” [rippppp]. “Have you given any thought to what you might do if….” [snappp].

His response was worse than I had hoped. One sentence. I won’t repeat it to betray his confidence, but he sounded devastated.

Tomorrow I meet with the realtor, and I hope I don’t spontaneously produce a pitchfork to keep realty signs off my precious lawn. Good thing I don’t own one–a pitchfork, that is. But I’m territorial enough…I wonder if I could will one into existence just out of plain fear?

This is a rough time. This is a lot of the sadness and uncertainty, with little in the way of assurances or adventure. Yet. I sincerely hope the good part comes soon.

Amexit, ho!

June, 2018
It’s time to start planning the big Amexit! Our little family here in Michigan has this absolutely bat-shit bonkers idea to move to a small town in Ireland where we know not a soul. And plans for work are up in the air.

If you’re asking “WHY?” right now, you clearly do not have the spirit of adventure in your heart. Yes, this is an enormous and expensive undertaking that will upheave our family and transplant us into another country far away from our dear family and friends. (Okay, taking a moment for hyperventilation right now. Breeeeathe. Whoo. This is scary.) But life isn’t stagnant, and as best I can figure, we only get one ride on this carousel, which leads to the question “why not?”. For most of us, there are visa, citizenship, and financial reasons that are quite valid for not grabbing life by the ping pongs (Gilmore Girls!). But those hurdles have been cleared for us, and we are ready to see what else is out there is this wide world.

If you still want the nitty-gritty of “why”, then you can check out my story of how I became a Luxembourg citizen (go, Luxembourg!). It has lots of great bitter diatribes on the state of our culture and body politic here in the U.S. But I want to assure you, dear reader, that we are not doing this to run away from something, but rather to embrace a new life. Forward, ever forward! Great education, great medical care, beautiful neighborhoods with castles, raucous pubs, and a friendly outlook.

If that isn’t good enough for you, then just know that this is something we need to do. Listen, my parents have only ever lived within a 4-mile radius their entire lives. My sister had barely broken through that bubble in her short time, and then died in my parents’ basement at the age of 34. That can’t be me or my husband or daughter. It’s time to just attack the world and hug it like Mabel Pines squeezing a pig (Gravity Falls!).¬†Okay, that went dark, but I wanted to add some lead-weighted perspective for what motivates people to throw caution to the wind and take that big chance.

And that’s what we’re doing! Ya-yes! I don’t know if this will all be a huge mistake and a big gut-kick from the universe while it flips the bird at us, or if it will be the dreamy adventure that I picture in my brain. I guess we’re about to find out.