In May 2011, I embarked upon what many friends were calling the adventure of a lifetime. Yet, I wasn’t quite sure I was up for any adventure as I was at an age where most people are seriously planning their retirement. My husband on the other hand was looking for a more exciting job and something he could really put his mark on.
I already had an exciting job. I mean, what’s more exciting than being a writer? I could visit places then write about them. If I didn’t want to visit, I could surf the net and find out everything I wanted to know about some place. Now, when I was younger, I dreamed of living in foreign places and living in the most exotic one I could find. Most of those places involved islands or Scotland but not the middle of Europe.
I took myself out of the equation because I knew I had to let my husband make this decision. He’d always allowed me to follow my dream of writing. I’d travel to yearly conferences as well as a variety of other things writers do. He helped me in every way he could and took joy in every achievement I’d ever had. No matter his choice, I would support it. I told my kids they would support it too even though they wondered what they’d done to make their father want to leave home.
Now, why we were all stunned when he took the job, I don’t know but we only had six weeks to make it happen. Those weeks were like a whirlwind romance as we each learned it was a good thing we loved each other a lot. There were decisions to be made, items to pack and a house to prepare so we could go to Vienna, Austria. I think my dear husband was stunned the most when I told him this wasn’t the path I would have chosen but the one I was given.
Quicker than expected, we were on our way to the place we would live for the next three years. Our youngest son went with us as he was still our dependent even though he was nineteen and the older son was put in charge of the house we owned in the southwest US. The oldest and his family, along with the youngest, would be staying there while we were gone.
We immediately went house or apartment shopping that Saturday just twenty-four hours after our arrival. We weren’t sure just what we wanted but we did know that eventually our dog would be joining us. Whatever place we chose had to have enough room for us and guests as we hoped we’d have lots of those. We’d also heard that storage would be a problem and kept that in mind as we searched.
It took us just a mere two and a half weeks to narrow it down to four places from almost fifty. I’d never looked at so many homes in my life. Our temporary housing was costing us a bundle and we knew the sooner we moved the better. Each place had pros and cons but I had a certain type of setting in mind when I thought of the old city.
For those who are not familiar with Vienna think Viennese Boys Choir or Johann Strauss. Think Mozart and Beethoven and Hapsburgs. Think humidity and grandeur and Napoleon and you’ll have an idea of the place I now call home.
Along with all the newness came an awareness of my new surroundings. This allowed me to suddenly see the world in a new light and in new ways. Instead of being stymied in my writing like I have been in many stressful situations, I’ve found myself surrounded by the peace and solitude I need to write good stories.
Finally, we found the place we’d call home. It overlooked the Schwartzenberg and Belvedere Palaces and was in a building with three embassies. It was built in 1869, had large rooms, fifteen foot ceilings and a fantastic landlord. It was a place of old world charm and definitely something I could see myself living in. It was as safe as one could be in a large European city. It also came with an indoor pool and sauna, something we didn’t have at home.
One of the most important things I’ve gotten out of the move besides understanding just how resilient I really am is inspiration for a craft I’d almost stopped being inspired for and by. Now we can go to a café and I study people again, weaving stories around what their particular situation might be. I’ve been to a foreign film festival, seen a tour-de-France type bike race and rode more trains than I’d ever been exposed to here in the States.
Yup, the next three years are going to bring wondrous ideas and writing. I just can’t wait.