Sunday, 18 March 2012

Something that I tell myself I need

This blog post constitutes another attempt that I am making towards avoiding things that I should be doing (going to the gym, organising the business plan for My Other Limb, working out some sort of dinner for when Ben gets home), and allows me to continue the stream of things that I am substituting for real achievements (blogging, updating my phone, working out the lyrics to a parody song I'm writing about ovaries, drinking an ever-so-necessary fourth cup of coffee). Much as I'm a girl with the best intentions (geddit?!), these sometimes don't get put into practice as soon as they could be.

My brain is all over the place today, so I think I will default to my old faithful method of organising my Tangled thoughts:

  1. I am frustrated by the length of time it is taking to get documents together for the RFE. It's stopping me really start life here (by working), and I now feel like it's also causing misunderstandings between me and Ben. As I can't do it myself (the documents required pertain to him and his employment), it's down to him to get them all, and then down to his employer to get them to us too. It leaves me impotent and irritable. 
  2. My entire experience in Charlotte at the moment is very bipolar; one moment I am very happy and feel almost settled, the next I am feeling confused, alone, and just very... detached? 
  3. Life here is keeping me very busy: the internship is BRILLIANT; I have loads of my own personal photo projects to get on with; I am meeting people via CPMG; I have awesome friends here already through Ben; when we do get to see each other, me and Ben have plenty to do (eat out, walk, watch BBC dramas, sit on the deck with the birds and our resident chipmunk, watch roller derby games, go to the movies, see friends) and have loads of fun doing them.
  4. Despite being so busy, I feel kind of at a loss for things to do sometimes, and so look for more (I almost joined a book club earlier today, I started a new MOL project this week, and I am always adding to my list of e-pen pals), even though I don't know where I would fit them in. Maybe it's a lack of fulfilment, something I'm missing without realising it? 
  5. In another twist, in spite of the feeling of being busy, I also find myself lacking in motivation to do simple things far more often these days. It almost irritates me that I need to do things like clean the kitchen, walk the dog, shower... This isn't anything I've really experienced before! My sister-in-law and I had a good conversation about this lack of energy, and it seems to stem from a feeling of limbo, of nothing being settled yet. She would know, too, as she's not only emigrated from Australia, but is also living with my brother in Geneva right now (as they are currently waiting for her UK visa to be approved) rather than in England, which is a temporary and testing place of residence because of its transient nature and the fact that they speak a different language there, too. 
  6. Nowhere really feels like home any more. 
  7. I miss my people back in the UK. I am so lucky to know such wonderful people here, and I want that to be noted, because I am beyond grateful for their friendship and general awesomeness. But I have known these people for about a year, and have only lived around them for just over five months. To not have memories with people, the impact of having relatively very little to look back on, is something I wasn't prepared for. Ben is the exception of course (and one other friend here does feel like an old friend, in the nicest and strangest of ways!), as he is my best friend, and we have lots of memories together. But I miss being able to talk to people who I have a deep, long-term, historical knowledge of, outside of my marriage, just because of the longevity of our friendship. Stories of teenage silliness, forgetting that red lights mean stop, getting walk of shame phone calls, wearing a miniature tent on your head and dancing outside after midnight in a quiet neighbourhood, all Christmas shopping being done by now, talking for hours into the evening on my folks' balcony, using Hanson's 'MMMBop' as an early morning motivator on the drive to work: all of these do not need to be overtly discussed but they are there, underlying the friendship in its present state. All that history isn't spoken, but it's obvious that it's there. Or rather, it's become obvious to me when it isn't there. 
  8. The opposite of #6 is also true, though: having pretty much no history to define me leaves me very open to make something more of myself. I was the first to say I was stagnating in the UK; certainly I was very flattened emotionally, and to some extent professionally, too. It was without a doubt my own doing: holding myself back and not really believing in myself was the root cause, and while I'm not saying that a person needs to emigrate to effect change, it certainly has done me good. I see Charlotte as a place where anything can happen, and I frequently find myself held in thrall by the skyline because it represents so much to me. 
  9. The fatigue and generally "low" feeling I have been getting is being tackled, both physically and mentally. Going to the gym is good for me on both counts, but on top of that, I have been reading a lot of other expats' experiences of their move via their respective blogs, which has given me a sense of comfort and solidarity. Iota has actually written two posts that I felt like I could have written (minus the kids and plus her writing talents!) about the effect of an intercontinental move on a person. I strongly recommend reading both parts one and two, whether you're an expat or not, as it really does explain just how confusing (however pleasant) emigration can be. 

In short, there's so much going on that I don't know what to really think or feel at all. Conversely, it feels like there's not much going on at all because, on the surface, it all looks fine. This mess is all in my head! 

I will conclude with a video that is both a fantastic summary of what I spend most of my days doing, emotionally speaking, and is in keeping with the theme of this post (the movie 'Tangled', in case anyone missed it!). This is the scene where Rapunzel leaves her tower for the first time in her life, against her mother's wishes. She has the "best day ever" because she finally experiences the world in its full glory, but is simultaneously wracked with guilt (about her mother) and anxiety (about her ability to survive). I think it is an excellent representation of what a newish expat goes through about twelve times a day. 

About once every couple of hours


  1. Yes, it's peculiar all the emotions that the emmigrant/immigrant goes through, isn't it? Much of what you say is familiar to me. I think you've highlighted all of the main things though.

    In some ways, I think once the novelty of moving wears off, you become more aware of what a big thing that you've done, in some ways. You no longer have a history and shared memories with those around you and those things are heavily tied up with one's sense of identity.

    It must have been even more extreme in the old days when your only communication with the "old world" was by letter.

  2. Yes, I can't say how much I appreciate the internet - it's a lifesaver! Not only for keeping in touch with family and friends but also, while I can't work, a great source of entertainment when Ben isn't around.

    As I said before, I really appreciate your comments, Paul. It's good to know that there are similar patterns to emmigrant/immigrant experiences, and I love reading your well-balanced and thoughtful posts on cultural differences, too.

    A sense of identity is something I am gradually building... I didn't feel particularly well-defined back home, so I welcome the opportunity to do something about that on new turf. BUT I had no idea quite how much of what I consider "me" was tied up in the people I know back home and the history we share together.

    1. It's an interesting topic, so I wrote a post on it and linked back to this blog. It's weird how much we all use other people to bolster our sense of who we are, even if we're not always aware of it. I guess that's why if armies, or governments, or the police want to break someone psychologically, the first thing that they do is put them in solitary confinement.

  3. Thanks for writing the post. I will link back on here and on the QE Facebook page, too.

    I am surprised by it, but simultaneously feel kind of daft for being surprised. There's so much of ourselves caught up in how those we love, and those who know us, see us.


Thanks for taking the time to write! I try to reply to everyone, and I love to read your comments.