21 March 2015


Well….it’s been quite a journey. Paul and I seemingly rushed out of PNG in mid-January. Our exit was a long process that was executed quickly. I don’t think either of us expected to vacate the country the way we did but we did and now we’re here so let’s get caught up.

After our two years in Singapore, Paul was itching to visit Hong Kong. Air Niugini, Paul’s last employer, flew from Port Moresby to Hong Kong, so we decided to spend a few days in the city before flying on to Chicago. We had quite the trip and ended up extending our stay. A week in Hong Kong was enough to solidify Paul’s intent to live there – O.K., honestly, I think it took about an hour. We met with some pilots, toured the city and fell in love with another island nation in the East.

Living in Singapore, we had heard that people either love Singapore and hate Hong Kong or vice versa. Knowing how much I loved Singapore, I never thought that Hong Kong would measure up. I listened to the others and was nervous to visit the nation up north. I only agreed to go because I knew Paul really wanted to go and, with our hours numbered, we had to take the opportunity while we were on that side of the world. Other people nearly ruined Hong Kong for me. The truth is that I loved both, in very different ways.

Singapore is the L.A. to Hong Kong’s New York. Singapore is amazing – warm, clean, laid back, welcoming, obsessed with yoga, but it’s also flashy, branded and is constantly proving to be the best at everything. Hong Kong is gritty, bleeding natural culture and doesn’t have to try to be good at anything; it just is.

After a week in Hong Kong we boarded a plane to Chicago and glided into Pittsburgh where my mom came to chauffeur us home. Moms are professional chauffeurs and a welcome sight after a long journey. She dropped us at Paul’s parents’ house, where we have been ever since.

The parents swear that they love having us around and, after four years on the other side of the world, I am sure that they do like having us in their everyday lives again. But I know that the former empty nesters probably want some alone time as much as we do, so we try to take a few days here and there to get out of the house and let them live their normal lives.

I like having a house and a family to come home to but I am wondering how much longer we have until we enter the mooch zone. Today we have officially been living off of our parents – all of them – for two months. We pay for groceries when we don’t get scolded and immediately reimbursed; we put gas in the vehicles we borrow; we clean the house but we don’t pay rent or utilities. We don’t have a car payment because we are borrowing cars. Paul’s parents own a restaurant so the food costs are minimal. I don’t know how much longer I can accept playing the borrowing game.

Paul has been interviewing regularly and has turned down a few job offers that did not align with our goals. He has a few potential opportunities overseas but the two jobs that are the most concrete are here in the States. We spent this week driving all over New Jersey and Pennsylvania looking for potential neighborhoods in case we relocate.

We have been discussing ideas of renting or purchasing a home. If he does accept a job in the States, how long does he intend to stay? If he loves his company, will we continue to stay here? Years? Decades? Are our expat days over?

My brain is going into the deep, not so much concerned with the rocks or the dirt, but carefully examining the roots. How thick do we want the roots to be and how far do we want our roots to extend? Should we rent a furnished apartment for a few years? We no longer own furniture and would easily be able to move abroad. Should we buy a house? Renovate? Make a home for ourselves and any possible potential maybe someday future mini McKees? That would involve big purchases – a house, for one, and furniture and a treadmill and cars might be nice. But would we rent out the house with all of our stuff or sell the house and all of our stuff? We have done that three times before and it wasn’t exactly fun but it was really freeing.

The life of an expat wife is constantly evolving and I find my brain in many directions. I have recently decided that I have not yet settled back into my American life. I believe I am in a waiting place – a temporary zone where I find myself neither progressing nor regressing. I cannot say that I have begun to experience the repatriation because we are in the holiday zone, living the same life that we live while home for the holidays. I haven’t gone back into my old life in my old city with my old friends and former job; I haven’t moved someplace new to meet new friends and enjoy new experiences. I am at home, trying to fill my days with meaningful activities. Some days are more meaningful than others.

Luckily, I know that God has it all figured out. All I have to do is enjoy my time exploring and contemplating what the future will bring. Thinking about scenarios is fun – the mind wandering, the pictures I imagine – but the reality, in my experience, is superabundantly far over and above all that I dare ask or think (infinitely beyond my highest prayers, desires, thoughts, hopes or dreams). To Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations forever and ever. Amen. So be it.

(You can find that last part in Ephesians)

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