Today, I went and met up with some gals who were getting together to cook soup. A fun excuse to meet up and make the mundane a bit more entertaining. They all live in adjacent buildings, so it isn’t hard to coordinate. I, however, live across town, so I passed up the cooking and just stopped by to hang out and get to know the ladies a bit better.

Since we are the newest people off the ship, I was asked (again) how I am settling in.

I never know how to answer that.

Fine? Hangin in there? Dandy?

I’m living in a different country. I don’t know the language. I am unemployed. I have a new degree withering away in my drawer. I dont have kids, unless you count my husband. I talk to myself more than anyone else. I have seriously considered asking the cute sales lady at the store if she wants to be my friend. Sightings of the sun are as rare as Bigfoot. I broke my computer in the second week. I killed my herb plants. My feet are too swollen from the cobblestones to wear any heels.

Things are going great!

No seriously, things aren’t going poorly.
They are just going.
Yeah yeah, I just made a list of daily frustrations. But guess what?

I’ living in a different country and its an adventure.
I don’t know the language, but fortunately most people speak mine.
I am unemployed and its ok because I have someone who is happy to support me.
My new degree is wasting away, but I am making a new career for myself.
We have no kids and nothing tying us down, so we get to invest in wonderful experiences.
I am becoming even more comfortable with my own thoughts. (So far, there’s still only 1 voice, so that’s good)
I don’t have to send a telegram home. My friends and family are a Skype call away. Hooray for technology!
This city happens to be gorgeous in the gloom. And they love coffee.
Breaking your computer sucks, no matter what.
I have learned that gardening is not my thing.
…I would really like to wear my heels. No plus sides there.

Its just our new normal. 
It is what we have to work with, and we are going for it.

Life starts at the end of your comfort zone, right?

If that is the case, we are living it up!
Living some place new -any place, but especially internationally- is hard. It is really, really hard.
No, I am not talking about study abroad. I did that too, and it was so different. Then, you probably chose where you wanted to go. You went to school, were given roommates, had people organizing activities for you, and you went home a few months later. Bank account empty but so full of culture (or German beer and sangria and Chianti, depending on how you did it). And then you jumped back in to school, routine and community.
But this time, its different. This is your life. This is where you live. Not for a few months. For a few years. When you get back, you will be older. Your friends have had a few jobs, a few boy/girlfriends. Maybe they got engaged and you missed the party. Maybe you lost someone and couldn’t get a ticket home. Your nieces and nephews will be older; you are a face on the computer, like Elmo or Dora. You missed the showers, the promotion, the retirement. Your parents will be in their new (awesome) home. You’ve matured past those crappy post-college jobs, but you don’t qualify for anything else. You are used to carrying your groceries home and you even forgot how good real American peanut butter is. Hell, you even lost interest in the World Series and the Super Bowl, even if you only pretended to care so you could drink beer and eat cheese dip and yell at the TV with everyone else.
And some days are really exhausting.
It is frustrating to feel so uneducated. To look around and see words that mean nothing and signs that are confusing.
Some days the lonely sets in. You miss your dinner clubs and girls nights. The “call me laters” and “See you theres”.

But I am finding that that is sort of the point. To be uncomfortable and find comfort in it. To have each other when you have no one else. To confide in someone new when you need it and find you have a new friend.
Most importantly, you have to learn that life goes on. 
When you are not there, life continues to pulse and do its own thing. Know that when you get back, it wont be the same as when you left. So you have to keep living too. Its not a pause, it is a continuation. You will have the same amount of changes and stories and life to share in the end.
And things wont be the same. But your life and their lives will flow back together and will be deeper and more appreciated for it.

As I am sitting here rambling, I am also watching the pictures flash through my digital frame. Baby pictures of Jimmy and me. Dated family adventures. Regular family holidays and quirky birthdays. My old labradors. My sister’s stunning mountain wedding. My darling blue-eyed nephew.
Part of me is bitter that I cant be there now. But most of me knows that this is right. It is the right time for us to take this adventure. We are so blessed to have all of these memories to take with us, and even better, they will still be there when we get back.
A little older, a little different, but they will be there.
We will be a little older and a little different too. And full of our own memories.

Thanks for enduring the ramble!

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