For me at least, my attachment to the place is inextricably connected to that phase of life with the kids. I look at pictures now and goggle at how small they were then!
But at least now I can look at those photos without my heart aching so much. I think our last visit in January last year was something I very much needed to do, in order to truly say goodbye.
I can make myself a cup of coffee in the mid-afternoon without crying. I don't feel so guilty about leaving Shpresa.
I still think it is one of the most beautiful and fascinating places I have ever been to. And that has at least a little bit to do with how we felt there among our Albanian and expat friends - wanted, appreciated, loved.
I have found friends here; over the last year I think I finally accepted that it was ok that my closes friends are all people I work with, in most cases supervise. It doesn't seem to be an issue for the Colombian women on my team so I decided it's not an issue for me, and I've been much more content since I made that shift.
We are still uncertain about what our next steps will be. Albania could be in our future again, not only in the past. I have more thoughts about leaving that I will leave for another post - just processing in these last few months here.