Wednesday 8 April 2015

Crossing The Rubicon

The Potski Family have crossed The Rubicon.

The Rubicon, in case you didn't know (I didn't know in detail before I started writing this post - isn't the internet a wonderful thing?), was the river that Julius Caesar's army crossed in 49 BC in an act of insurrection against the Roman state preceding his eventual assumption of power, and was where he supposedly uttered the words 'The die has been cast' (according to Suetonius).

Well.  That seems a bit dramatic for what we've done; there has been no insurrection, we are not acting against the state, and the only place our words on this event are being recorded are here on this blog, but still; we have crossed a point of no return in our family's journey.

We are heading back to the UK.

And our particular Rubicon - at this point - was not re-registering Boys #1 and #2 for the next academic year of school here in Russia.

This may not seem like a big deal to some, but places at the school they currently attend are as common as hen's teeth; for every child who leaves there are many lined up to step into their spot, so it's not a reversible decision - but we've made it.

I have mixed feelings about moving back, to be honest.  On the one hand, we're not a family of serial expats; we haven't spent 20 years trekking around the globe, and it was always likely that after Moscow we would be returning to the UK, so it's not exactly a shock that we're doing this.  We still have a home there, along with family and friends who have been very understanding about our itinerant lifestyle during visits over the last 5 years or so, and it will be wonderful to be closer to all of them.  It will also be fantastic to be able to comprehend what's being said around me rather than just catching a few words in each exchange and hoping that where I miss the meaning, my general smiling and nodding will get me through without causing too much offence.

And then there's the fact that we are very much looking forward to the Boys being in UK schools (more on that another time), and giving them the chance to see the country as more than just a holiday destination.  They will be able to be more independent as they get older, in a way that expat kids in Moscow just can't be.  Children here often live in a bubble, and whilst they have incredible experiences and see wonderful places, the opportunities to do mundane things like get Saturday jobs or paper rounds just don't happen.  And I very much hope that they will no longer have to say goodbye to 30% of their classmates every July, when that year's rotation happens and families move to their next posting on the opposite side of the world.

That last one's a bugger.  I will not be sorry to leave it behind.

But on the other hand, we've had an amazing time here.  We've had some life-changing experiences and met some truly adventurous and outstanding people and made what I hope will be lifelong friends.  Living in Moscow has changed us for the better; it's made us less insular, less inclined to take one viewpoint and stick to it and more likely to look for the other side of the story.  It's made me both value the differences between people and also to understand that whatever you see on the surface, we mostly want the same thing; for our kids to be happy and healthy.

When we took the final decision to move here, back in 2009, Husband gave me the chance at the last minute to change my mind.  We could stay put, he said.  Or, we could move Russia.  Neither was the easy option; he was travelling to Moscow each and every week and was only back at weekends, so Monday - Friday the Boys and I were on our own.  On the opposite side of the scale there was, well, Russia, and all the challenges that living there would involve.

Having fretted about what we were planning, and having been second-guessing myself in the run-up to that conversation I was surprised by how easy it was to make the choice.  Because how many people in their early 40's get the chance to pro-actively make the decision to really shake things up?

So we chose to throw the deck in the air and make the move, and whilst it was tricky to begin with, 5 years down the line I think it was the best thing we could have done.

Here's to shaking things up.  May we all have the courage to cross our Rubicon from time to time, whatever it might be.

(But I would highly recommend that if you do, you ensure you will have access to wine.  And chocolate.)


  1. Good on ya, Potski Family!

    I think your lives will have been a little harder but a lot richer for the move to Moscow and back.

  2. Thanks Iota! And who knows - maybe once we're back you, I, and Reluctant Memsahib can finally have that coffee and cake in Patisserie Valerie...

  3. Ooh exciting! I think that once you've lived somewhere else other than your home, you always lose a little of yourself to that place, but you gain so much more. It's as though your mind is opened to a whole different way of thinking. You don't even realise the change. But it's in you and can never be taken from you. Let us know when you're back in the UK. xx

  4. So exciting! Your time in Moscow has all sounded like an incredible and rewarding time, but it must feel so great to have "crossed the Rubicon" and be on a path to home. I've so enjoyed reading about all of your experiences - i look forward to more.

  5. I certainly will, Melissa. And York is on our list... x

  6. Thankyou Sally. It does feel great - but also a little scary. Watch this space for more first-world observations (as in, we should all have such problems, right?)

  7. Big decision and big change! Good luck with it all!

  8. Nappyvalleygirl10 April 2015 at 09:21

    Welcome back.....we certainly don't regret the time spent away, and, once the moving part is over, it's actually good to be back. I have just spent the past two days showing a friend around London and it really brought it home to me what a marvellous city (and country) we live in. May I join for you that coffee at Patisserie Valerie? x

  9. Yaaaaaaaayyyyyyy! Told you that in person a couple of months ago, but anyway, worth repeating! xx

  10. Can I join you for coffee? I live just along the road from Iota, globally speaking.

  11. Oh, this is wonderful news! When I started reading your blog (back in the days when you were still potty training) it never occurred to me that I might someday get to meet your in person, but I do hope our paths will cross once you're back and settled! Enjoy your last few months in Moscow. I'm curious to hear what your boys think of the whole thing....

  12. :) (Am actually getting increasingly excited. In a quiet, not wanting to make too much of a fuss way, obvs...)

  13. Ms C, funny how these things happen, isn't it? And don't worry, our paths will cross, I guarantee it! (Afraid yet?)

  14. Not in the least! I'm looking forward to it - and what are sure to be very interesting 'tales of repatriation.' ; )

  15. A very well-timed post for you. Some links to good reading material for you to prepare your entry to the UK.

    You're welcome!


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