I write from a United Airlines seat midway through a trans-Atlantic flight. I left Dublin this morning bound for O’Hare Airport, following a by-now-familiar route back to Chicago.
It’s been a long couple weeks. I don’t have internet connection at the moment so can’t look back to see when I would have last written – it was probably a while ago. Even if it wasn’t a while ago, things have changed pretty quickly for me over the last short spell here.
Likely when I last wrote, I shared that my visa for living in the UK would expire soon (August 11th – this very day in fact) and that I was deciding between two different options for applying for another visa to extend my stay and remain there for the foreseeable future. One option would have bought me another year, and the other is a bit more substantial and would have resulted in a 3-5 year stay allowance.
To make a very long story somewhat short, I had slight reservations about applying immediately for a few different reasons but was pursuing one of those options, thinking it was still likely that I would opt to stay. However, following the winding rabbit holes of visa technicalities as well as deliberating over options and direction eventually landed me in a place I didn’t expect. Those aforementioned technicalities ultimately made it impossible to apply for a new visa from within the country, meaning I had to leave and return to the States for now. I will still have the option to apply for both of those visa types from the States, and that possibility remains on the table. However, I don’t know what will happen and whether that will prove the wisest choice. So yesterday I lugged two packed suitcases and a guitar onto a Belfast to Dublin bus and left Ireland.
The past week has been an emotionally heavy one. I had grown to love my life in Belfast and leaving it packed a much deeper, harder heart-punch than I anticipated. I suppose that’s a good thing. These last few days contained goodbye’s, tears, and soaked-up last experiences of things I treasure in Northern Ireland, both special and mundane, with many people that I love.
From here the next steps forward remain quite uncertain. Being able to focus on Fathom for the rest of this calendar year is a priority to me, and I can do that from anywhere. My other priority right now is being able to spend more time with JT and gain more clarity and direction in that space. I also look forward to seeing family and other Stateside folks as I can.
There are options, dreams, and trips in the works for me but nothing solidified yet. I’ll share more when I know what things will look like. Until then, I leave this UK chapter feeling a bit sad and somber but looking forward to what God might have for me to do next, and eager to find new closeness and time with Him in a season different than the one I expected.