This is a post that needs to happen, although I've been putting it off for quite some time.
In fact, I just typed that first line, teared up, and let it simmer for a few more hours before picking up again.
I know that as an expat, moving is the nature of the beast. We are always transitioning in some way. In fact, a big part of why we are not staying in Kyiv for longer is that, simply put, we did not move overseas to stay in one place. We came to be adventurous, chart unknown territories, learn life lessons from those who live differently than we do. I guess it's just time for the next chapter of... that.
It still doesn't make this any easier. Kyiv and PSI have become like a second home to us. In fact, of our 10 years of marriage, this is the place we've spent the longest time as a couple. We've made so many friends, each who fits a different facet of our personality (stealing that line from Kelli). We've watched people come and go. We've given our all to our classes, our projects, and our sports teams. It's a lot to let go.
Recently I was introduced to the concept of the RAFT. "Building your RAFT" is a concept that embodies the actions and emotions we should engage in order to leave well. Below is what my RAFT means to me as we get ready to bid farewell to PSI.
Luckily, I feel like this is the easiest for me. I'm at a point in my life where I don't hold grudges quite to the extent that I did as teenage me. Still, there are a couple of people who I will be making peace with, more for myself than anything. The thing is, they probably don't even know that there are any negative feelings between us, which could make this step slightly awkward. Nonetheless, I will make myself do it.
Affirmation involves telling people who have been a big part of my time here in Kyiv that they are special to me and thanking them. There are a lot of these people. I'd best get to writing! Luckily, I'll be seeing most of my friends again in August before we actually step on the plane to our next destination.
Probably the least fun step of the RAFT. There are obvious farewells to friends, colleagues, students... but there are also farewells to places, foods, and experiences. I've found myself doing this one for about the past month, but due to the fact that I haven't planned the events very well, I'm never 100% certain that it's "the last time." Many of these farewells are to restaurants we have frequented, but there are also parts of our daily routine that I've been cataloguing as possible farewells. The people we pass to and from school, the layout of the metro stations, the voice(s) on the metro cars (yes, that's you, Paul!), along with the sights and sounds along our path from the metro exit to the school entrance. I said farewell to the snow globe view from our window at the end of March when we had our last good snow. I told my seniors farewell as they head off to find themselves in university (although graduation happened the same weekend as my volleyball tournament in Helsinki, so that was a difficult choice to make). From here it only gets worse. *deep breath*
Above: The snow globe view I'm going to miss like crazy
The part I haven't been so good at because I've been too focused on the "F" part of my RAFT. We're moving to freaking Beirut, Lebanon! We have an idea of what our new apartment will look like, and it looks incredible! We've been told that we'll be living in a very hip part of town, full of cafes and right by the Mediterranean. Our walk to school each day is about 15 minutes along the Corniche, which is the "boardwalk" that goes along the water. Lebanese food is something I can't wait to eat fresh from the source! There are so many aspects of our new life to look forward to, so I really should start "thinking destination" on a more regular basis.
The emotions intensify, especially with the last two parts of the RAFT. All said, we've had an amazing stretch in Ukraine and can't wait for our next adventure in Lebanon! Here's to many more new friends, all the new flavors of incredible foods, and fantastic memories yet to be made. Do svedanya, Ukraine, Merhaba, Lebanon!
Photos of our new apartment (sent from the current occupant), plus views of the Mediterranean on the walk to school from our neighborhood (photo by Paul C., current colleague who worked in Beirut at the school we're going to)