Light and Dark
Its the Friday the August long weekend and I’m sitting in one of my favorite places on earth, sipping Moroccan tea from the Sahara that is brought to me only by special courier when I run out, enjoying a day of quiet solitude. (I have had more solitude this summer than I care to mention).
I’m on my friends front porch (newly re-minted as an outdoor space). Gazing out on my old street in full view of my old home, now occupied by a delightful family of four. Its a perfect day of sunshine, light breeze, good temperature and no humidity. And its a dead zone. This is a neighbourhood ruled by little kids (13 in spitting distance) and we are coming to the end of the annual 2 week closure of the local day care. There is not a soul in sight in the middle of this day, and most evenings, along this street each year when all the families take time off and head to the cottage.
I have come to my friends house to enjoy this place while they are away. I’ve had the most productive two days on record working on the businesses. The tour business which is young and growing and just bursting to come into its own. A good and exciting time for us. I have also been working on the second business a lot this summer. Getting the legal in place. Process, strategic planning, research. It will become something in September and that’s really exciting too. I am also working on the business of being a nomad. Straddling the borders of two distant countries, setting myself up for my return and the things lay in wait in the next few months.
But I have to tell you, this summer was a miss step in my year of moving abroad. I knew it was a mistake the week before I left Marrakech and I was helpless to stop it. Plans had been made and yes they could have been changed but not so easily. Just as Canadian’s are forced to divide an already too short summer into segments separated only by long weekends, I have found this summer segmented into three separate and equally distinct parts.
Arriving home – Part 1. When I first got home it was disorienting. It was exciting, but only in that I got to see some faces that light up my life. Remember I had JUST been in Canada 4 weeks before so I had satisfied some of my more primal urges on that trip. The drugstore, the mall, Wendy’s, the grocery store. This time I was just happy to see people I love. And I did. I got two of the best little hugs I could ever hope for from my little neighbours. I settled into my temporary home in my friends basement apartment and unpacked all that was left from the ‘grand purge of 2016’. I immediately repacked all the things I didn’t need for placement in storage. I found all the things that would be sold in a garage sale. And I set myself up for my “brief-but-feels-like-a-lifetime” visit in Canada. I saw friends. Navigated my way around and did all the things on my to do list. Haircut, dentist, doctor, Daisy. Accountant, lawyer, banker. You know – the important things.
July – Part 2. This is where shit went bad. I had a vague plan to do a lot of work on the new business and also to keep up with the pace on the tour biz. So that was happening. But you can only work for so many hours a day. I found that I was suspended in space. It was like being in the middle of Lake Ontario and treading water. I spent a lot of time inside for various reasons and really only saw people in the occasional evening. I hung out with my friend Patricia on the odd occasion. She too is in suspended time and space between this place and the place she belongs. (And time with her is alway odd.) I didn’t feel like I was part of this place anymore. And I’m not. I felt the strong desire to just go home. To go back. To get back to the business of not living here. I made the mistake of returning to the place where I started from, the place I had left because I was not happy here. And as the excitement wore off, I was becoming equally unhappy again. There was even a point where I seriously thought my anti-depressants weren’t working. It was dark. The problem was, for a few 3 or 4 weeks there, I had no plans. Looking into the immediate future was like looking out into a dark night. For several reasons, I was unable to fill in dates on the calendar and move this ship forward. I was stuck from day to day to just be here and make the best of it. Oh, I had options. I always have options. But I had a lot of road blocks too and it was getting to be really really boring. I found myself without joy. I found myself unable to smile from inside.
And worst of all — I found myself doubting.
Yup. You read it here first folks. I began to question my choices. As I became more and more comfortable with driving, eating convenience food, shopping malls and television, speaking English and using humorous references without second thought, I began to doubt that I would have such an easy time on my return. My thoughts turned on me. I won’t say that I remotely lost my nerve. But I really started to wonder what the f*%k I had done. Briefly. This is not something that took over or turned me around or affected me in a big way. But I was surprised by it. I miss Morocco. That never changed. Heartbreakingly, sadly, with every fibre of my being I miss Morocco and all that it holds for me. I want so very much to go back immediately. But I really did start to have some blasphemous thoughts of “shit – what if it’s hard to live there when I go back” (I know – RIDICULOUS. That is simply not going to happen.)
I have so much to look forward to on my return. We have some big plans in the works, the first task of which is to find an awesome place to live. A bigger place this time, unfurnished so that I can do the honours. Some place that can house a stray brother or a visitor from parts unknown. Some place to put down some roots, if only short ones. There is a lot of activity planned for this next chapter. But the middle part of this summer? That was not cool. As an expat friend said earlier “You start to feel like you never left. No personal growth recorded.” Exactly.
And then it all changed. I had been gathering little bits of information along the way. My schedule. The companies schedule. My friends schedule. A chance for a business meeting in Montreal. All of a sudden I had all the pieces I needed. Talked it through, made some plans, and bam! Flight booked, insurance bought, calendar marked in pen. I have an end date. I have a way forward. And that simple task made ALL the difference in the world.
August – Part 3. The departure. My feet are slightly lifted off the ground again. My mind is drifting to packing, planning, working backwards from the big day to be sure I have time to fit everything in. The days on the calendar are finite. The weekends are numbered. The tasks are prioritized. The future is BRIGHT again. And it really really helps to enjoy moments like this, sitting on the deck, waiting for the littles to get home so I can hear all about their trip. Now I can count down the days and get my head back in the game. I can be an expat again. I can go spread my wings. I can live this changed life I live. Stopping in the middle of this year, at this time, after a sort 6 months – not the best decision. I am ready to go back. I hope I don’t feel like I am starting all over again when I get there. I hope I don’t have culture shock. I hope its just like being home finally. Finally. I feel like I tried on the whole expat thing, turned it around, saw that it fit really really well, and then hit Pause for no good reason. I’ve learned my lesson.
Time to hit PLAY.
Keep the momentum! There are amazing things on the horizon 🙂
It’s all part of the transition process. I went through the same when I left Toronto exactly 30 years ago.