So, many of you might have twigged by now that some pretty big stuff has been going on with our family recently. We moved to Hong Kong three months ago and it has been a crazy time. I wanted to write about it sooner, but I feel that I am just coming up for air now and this post has also taken me a long time to actually draft. It’s hard to articulate the emotions that come with such a big move and sometimes a little distance is necessary.
We came here for Marc’s work and I was on board with the decision to relocate, despite naturally having some concerns of my own. It is an important career move for him, a move which I wanted to and do support. Marc is one of the hardest working people I know and I want to bolster him and to help him to realise his ambitions. Also, every decision now needs to be taken with the whole family in mind. People asked me whether I was putting up a fight to stay in London, or whether I felt I was giving up on a lot. My answer was always that I thought that moving to Hong Kong was the best thing for the family overall, and I really do believe that.
This doesn’t change the fact that as is the case with any big move, I would be giving up on certain things myself. I had just started a new job – my dream job – at the Pensions Ombudsman, and I loved it. I was doing well and getting good feedback. It was interesting work and it fitted in with family life reasonably well. I had to sacrifice some of my maternity leave with Noam to start the job and that is a big regret of mine, not because the job wasn’t inherently worth it (for various reasons I decided it was) but because those early months are so precious, and I missed some of them to do a job which I would have to give up shortly after starting it. I would be leaving my elderly father, to whom I am very close, and my friends, the Jewish community I was beginning to feel a part of and my beloved house, which I had made my own.
Still, there was no question of staying. So I resigned from my job and began the task of unraveling our lives. Telling our nanny, cancelling contracts, telling service providers, selling our cars, renting our house. The movers came and packed up most of our belongings in a day and a half and loaded them onto a shipping container. Suddenly our house was a shell. It felt as though we also gave away mountains of things to charity just because we knew we wouldn’t fit the contents of our house into a small flat in Hong Kong. Marc’s Mum very kindly stored some of our precious items and some kitchenware for us. It was extremely busy and extremely stressful, until one day I locked the door for the very last time.
Our tenant wanted to move in sooner than our HK departure date, so I moved in with my parents in law for two and a half weeks with the kids (Marc was in HK setting things up for us). I was meant to meet up with some close friends before going but I got tonsillitis and felt dreadful so I couldn’t even say goodbye to a lot of my best friends, which was hard.
That time seemed to pass in a whirlwind and before we knew it, we were boarding a plane to Hong Kong with two babies. Au revoir London!
It is a huge change, but we didn’t feel our lives were going anywhere in London in several respects. Anti-Semitism is on the rise, the political climate is very hostile towards Israel, and as Jews we were beginning to feel increasingly uncomfortable. Career-wise it is so hard to progress in London and we felt that salaries weren’t keeping up with living costs.
I would say that a move like that, as a family, really made me feel grown up in a way that nothing else has – not even getting married or becoming a mother. It’s hard to put it into words but it strengthens you as a couple and emphasises the reliance that exists in marriage and how it’s really you as a couple against the world. The relocation is something only you two share, and you are embarking on a new life where you will only have each other to depend on, with no family or friends to lean on. It felt monumental, but it also felt right.
We don’t know when – or if – we will move back to London. I’m trying not to think about the future too much and to enjoy this experience for what it is and all it has to offer us. I’ll admit that it’s a struggle for someone like me to do that, because I’m such a planner, but I’m trying. We are lucky to be here and to have the chance to live in and explore another part of the world. One day at a time.