February 11th 2005, a day I'll always remember. I was standing at the end of my driveway in a town in the north east of England, waving goodbye to my sister and her husband who had just left with a fully loaded transit van. I watched them til they turned the corner and drove out of sight before I walked slowly back into my house, tears in my eyes as the enormity of what I was doing finally hit me. The place was totally empty, except for a few items I had decided not to take with me. Those I was leaving for my friends to take. In just a few hours I would be on a plane, taking me far away from everything I ever knew. My family, my friends, my work. I had a last walk through the empty house, then I picked up my bag, closed the door quietly, turning the lock for the very last time.
Three hours later I was sitting on a plane after having said a tearful goodbye to my mother. I can't describe how I felt. It was like a huge part of me had been left behind, although I wasn't flying to the other side of the world, it felt like it at that moment. As the plane took off, I closed my eyes and started to wonder about how my life was going to be from this moment on. I had always had the security of having all my family and friends within a few minutes walk from my home. Now that was all going to change.
After an hour the plane landed at Brussels. I didn't have luggage to collect, I had with me a single small bag containing a few essentials, as the rest of my belongings, my entire life it seemed, were in the transit van I had waved off only a few hours earlier. I walked towards the gate of the arrival hall, nervous, a little sad, my eyes searching for a familiar face. Then I spotted him. He smiled and it made it all worthwhile. The reason for it all. He closed his arms round me and held me close and I felt safe again. We turned and walked away, hand in hand, to start our new life together.
The following day my sister and brother-in-law arrived having travelled by ferry with all my worldly possessions packed into that transit van. We had a good giggle at the colour of my sisters face as she got off that ferry. I had offered for her to fly with me, but she had thought it would be romantic to travel with her husband, have a little time alone away from their children. I don't think there was much romance going on while they crossed the rough north sea judging by the pallor of her skin. Fourteen hours crossing time. Not my idea of fun I can tell you! That's why I flew.
Anyway, that was almost two and a half years ago now. Life over here sure is different, in good ways and bad, and I'll write some more about this later. For now though, I have no regrets about moving here. It's my home now.