I just got back from the store, picking up odds and ends for dinner.
Since 75% of our stuff is back in our apartment, cellophane-d into the cabinets, we are always missing something small. Tonight? Turmeric. I have a fresh bottle at home -our other home- but that is on the other side of the city. So I guess I will just make a bunch of curry, eventually.
I went to the store and, thankfully, got through my transaction without having to reveal that I have no idea what they are saying to me. I know when they ask if I have loyalty card or if I want a bag or a receipt. The answer is always, “Ei, kiitos.” (No, thank you).
Then I stopped by the Alko for a bottle of wine. I did have to reveal my Finnish ignorance, because I did not understand that she asked for my identification. I haven’t memorized that one yet.
After all of this happened, I walked back to an apartment that isn’t mine. I have 3 small stacks of clothes in the wardrobe and 2 dresses in the closet. My shoes are on the floor and my laundry is hanging in the living room. My wedding ring is on the bedside table. But it isn’t my home.
I came to the realization that this is why I was so terrified of this darn renovation.
We were being displaced…..again.
In a situation where I feel so utterly displaced, after a year, I had finally managed to feel comfortable. I felt some semblance of normalcy. I knew all the tellers at the two little corner stores down the street. They always spoke English to me. I knew the butcher at the organic market and he knew how to cut my meat. The gal at the pastry counter always tried to tempt me with a macaroon.
Although this is an impermanent inconvenience, I really miss those small luxuries (I might even call them victories)
And really, that is what living “abroad” gets you. Little victories everyday.
I was inspired by a fellow ex-pat wife who wrote a really lovely post on being an ex-pat mom. (Her very well written and adorable and inspiring blog here http://www.celebratingdaily.com/) I cannot begin to imagine the extra strain that would apply. She talked about how everything is a win for the home team – down to getting your kids out the door or pushing the stroller onto the tram. Because you never realize how hard these things are until you try to do them in a new country, with different social customs and naturally introverted people (among others).
Being uncomfortable is hard.
Living as an ex-pat is really really tough work. Some days, it is the greatest thing that has ever happened to you. Some days you would do atrocious things just to go through a drive through for a milkshake and run errands across town with your friends (or sisters). But every single day, it is the single most amazing experience you could possibly have.
You learn so much about yourself. You learn so much about your spouse. How one conducts themselves while out of their comfort zone is extremely telling.
And you know what they say- Life begins at the end of your comfort zone. I like to think it is the only place you can grow. Perpetually living on the very edge of your comfort zone is probably both the hardest and best thing you can ever do for yourself.
So for today’s small victories:
I took my top-siders off when I got home and quickly emptied the groceries, categorizing them by what I would use for dinner and what would go into the fridge. Then I turned around and saw that Jimmy had left his top-siders just inside the door, as well.
Just that -seeing our two matching Sperrys next to each other- made me feel a little bit more at home.