Monday, November 23, 2009

Melancholy moments

I was reading this post the other day by Silver Jewel Oman and felt a closeness to someone I have never met, purely because her thoughts resonated with mine. And then yesterday, chatting with a lady about holes in communication and 'voids' that she feels having given up everything back home to move to Muscat and support her I felt inclined to share.

When you leave your home country you are caught up in the whirlwind of excitement and anxiety about conquering new horizons and the journey ahead. Its great, a mix of euphoria and being scared shitless, but home is always home and you can always move back if things don't work out right? It's not the case for all, but it is fortunately the case for us.

What you fail to see through those rosy coloured glasses is that whilst your life is totally changing and doing a 360 (whether it be for a year or 10) - your friends and family are still living 'business as usual' and generally speaking their lives are only changed by a small percentage given the fact that you have gone away and that means no more seemingly insignificant chats over coffee, morning walks, play dates with your niece/nephew, shopping trips or family dinner nights.

And yes, that may seem logical and straight forward to many of you out there in the bloggersphere (and yes, before you say anything, it was our choice to move and we don't regret it a single bit) but everything is magnified 100x when you are going through this stage (holla if you hear me K-Nash, lol!) and on some days you become super-sensitive once the euphoria disappears and feels like someone ripped off that proverbial bandaid without warning - the realisation that life goes on without you and the lack of your physical presence does not stop time. Full stop. (or period, for our Americano amigos).

Don't worry, be happy.

As is the story within Eckhart Tolle's fab book "A New Earth" it's moments like this that we need to remember the phrase "This Too Will Pass". (read up here if you want more info and to feel a little enlightened and uplifted). No, this isn't a Danoz Direct infomercial and I'm not getting commissions for selling the book, I just like the simple concept and think it applies to this situation :)

Back to the my post - I assume this feeling affects women mostly as Duma handles the void well and has the amazing good fortune of being blessed with a crew of long standing HS/Misc mates and an amazing mother (Hi Anne!) who is email/internet savvy :) He and his friends may go for many months and then sure enough are back to drinking beers, sharing jokes and stories like they didn't skip a beat. I truly love that about them. But what is it with men and women being so different - women being so emotional and men being so matter of fact? :)

And then there is the process of making new 'friends', which of course never replace the old, tried & true ones...but are critical to a happy and sustainable life in your new world. Sure, initially they may feel fabricated or superficial, but then what about our Facebook friends? How well do you really know them and how honest and 'real' are those interactions? Long story short is that they start out with a genuine need or intention of meeting like-minded, interesting and fun (albeit different circle people) to function and feel connected to this new life.

And one of them so wisely told me that when you move to Muscat, you make friends with people you wouldn't normally be friends with back home, not because they aren't nice people...but purely because your circles wouldn't intersect or your bubble of networks (work, friends and family) wouldn't fly in the same path. Touche! (I love that word but don't really know when to use it or whether I ever use it correctly lol!). Ok, so I added the bubble analogy but its the same idea only different fluffy explanation :)

So far I acknowledge the point and am trying to embrace mornings with random cool ladies (the ratio of cool to uncool is about 3-1 in my humble opinion and experience to date), surfing the local internet forum and chatting with people about events/activities/gossip, as well as being the only western woman in my new office = only one not wearing an abaya AND using TP in the bathroom so that has to lead to new friendships, stories and moments right? Its all alien to me but its great and has totally opened up my world.

So there are some great moments to be had here for sure, really great ones...but I wanted to focus this post on the melancholy moments because that is what has been poignant lately throughout my conversations with people and my own feelings. And I have deduced that it often comes from being anal and a control freak in our previous lives...which leads to imbalance here purely because there are elements out of our control in our new environment - in our case:

* Not being able to talk to friends and family other than every other week, purely because it costs >AUD$1 per minute to call
* Not being able to sms our Mums or most friends because Vodaphone AUS is the only mobile phone provider to not be able to send AND receive from our network
* Our internet connection keeps dropping in and out so Skype calls (which are highly illegal here I might add!) are severely lagged and frustrating
* My gorgeous, loving mother doesn't know how to use the internet *sigh*

It all boils down to the fact that you miss out on 'moments', details and stuff that seems trivial to your circle back home, but help you function and feel 'connected' to both worlds.

It's a 2-way street and I totally get that. I can't expect people to communicate with me when 'I' feel like it or just because I'm sitting at home and have the spare time or energy...but I think its all a case of priority and making time for those you love and care about. I would like to think that things will all settle down soon and given I start my new job after Eid Al-Adha holidays next week (woohoo!) I will have a renewed appreciation for being busy, having a routine and structure in my life...not to mention my own money :)

So for all the expat women who are in my boat - chin up and hang in there. This Too Shall Pass.

For my beloved family & friends back home - I love you, miss you and hope we can talk soon xo


  1. Hey girl, heeeeey!

    Oh, I know all too well how you must be feeling. Reality checks right and left when you leave home and even more to greet you when you return. It totally, totally, totally passes though. I bet you're excited for March, though!

    My trip to the Middle East is all hinging on where I get accepted to graduate school. If I end up going to UNC- Chapel Hill or Harvard, it's likely my trip fund will morph into my relocation fund. If I stay at The University of Chicago or Indiana University, then I'll probably try to come out just before my semester starts. Either way, I'll know in March--fingers crossed.

    I know I've been terrible with the updates on my blog (There's a new one, though!) Between football, basketball, Arabic, grad school applications, work and social stuff I'm pretty much constantly flat out. Then I left my camera full of pics at a Halloween party and juuuuust got it back this week. So anyway, I dedicate the Root Veggie Hash (especially the beets) to you and Damo!

    Oh, and congrats on the job! How did Damo do in his first footy match?

  2. Hiya Ash :)
    I have been through this 'phase' many times but reckon that the way we react totally depends on our head space and time of our life i.e. friendships, emotional ties, commitments etc.

    I'm in a good place and loving my new world, but being human and vulnerable in a new place with no job (starting in a couple weeks) has meant that I felt like a lost my own identity for a bit...and I'm conscious that a lot of people who live this expat life say that they drift from their friends because its hard to 'connect' after a while given life is so different.

    But fortunately I know that the rollercoaster is temporary and the 'bump' has passed and I'm all good :) but, I wanted to be honest about how I was feeling because I know its the case for a lot of others who share and read this blog.

    Hope the stars align and you are able to make it to Pakistan and maybe here, but know that is dependent on other things. Thanks for sharing and for the words and understanding xo

    Hope all is good on your side of the pond and I checked out the root hash recipe the other day and will definitely whip it up, you know beetroot is my thang!