My husband and I met in Austria, got married here in Michigan, and lived in several other states in between, but I think it was still a shock to a few people when we recently announced our plans to move to New Zealand.
As we wrap up our lives in the Great Lakes State (for now, at least), I’ve tried my best to leave no ends untied. I have plenty to do: Sending dozens of extremely important documents to the other side of the world, spending as much time as possible with friends and family while we can, getting used to the idea of spending my January birthday on the beach. (Some burdens are easier to bear than others!)
For the last three years, I’ve used this column to share my thoughts on how liberty intertwines with all aspects of our personal lives — optimism, pessimism, goodwill, risk, the future, even travel.
So I’m thinking about all of those topics now, as I write my final column here and look toward a future that is as exciting as it is uncertain.
Every time I travel, I learn something new about myself and gain a deeper appreciation for my own culture and history by experiencing others. But my travels thus far have always had an end date, even if they lasted for months. This time I will have to learn something completely different: How to be a member of a new society.
I’m not a stranger to life abroad, so I know I will be absolutely terrified to board that plane when the time comes. Life begins at the end of your comfort zone, but it’s so much more fun to say it than to practice it, especially in the first few weeks. I also know that those feelings pass as the adventure kicks off. You have to try to be brave, while acknowledging some cowardice.
I think of liberty as an exercise in consistency, and I suspect that is why I have been willing to spend so much of my life on it. In my philosophy, there is almost always a clear right and wrong, and very few gray areas. But this move will add another personal contradiction to my already considerable collection (libertarian/Smith College alumna being my current favorite). I will soon be both a passionate American and an expatriate, a woman neither at home nor abroad.
We must frequently redefine ourselves in life. Families multiply, subtract and divide. Jobs and friends come and go. Pastimes and hobbies shift and change along with circumstances, health and interests. I will no longer spend 40 hours each week advancing liberty in Michigan, or indeed anywhere. I will no longer have a map of where I live attached to my wrist.
Fortunately, principles stay the same. I will still know that life is about the choices we make and the freedom we have to make them. I will still know that we are better off when we assume the best of intentions, swan dive into the deep end (or in my case, the South Pacific) and look toward the future with hope and optimism. That’s exactly what I plan to do.