Sunday, 10 February 2013

The captain of my soul

...with two of my best women
Celebrating with my in-laws...
...and bubbly with Ben

This last month has had some seriously wonderful, beautiful, brilliant highs, and some rather frustrating lows, as well as, unfortunately, some lows that have tested my very belief in the good in human beings. However, while I plan on at least touching on a couple of these lows, I do not plan on dwelling on them. It does no good to ruminate on that which you cannot change, it would be far better for me to put my energy into things that I can improve, and whinging on certainly isn't related to the primary point of the blog: to reflect on expat life. This is normal life, which is something to be thankful for - the opportunity to have it.

Surprise serotonin from Ben
So, first things first: I got older. It was a significant birthday, the big 3-0. I had an absolutely magical birthday week (yes, week), filled with friends, love, family, surprises, great food and wine, and a general feeling of contentment. Ben organised a surprise birthday dinner for me with (most of) our closest friends in Charlotte at my favourite restaurant. It was amazing: because it simply was, because I had no clue, and because usually I am nervous of surprises. So I guess not knowing was a good thing! Furthermore, to be made so obviously aware of just how close I have become to such wonderful people in a short time here made me feel so lucky. It's hard to believe that I had not met any of these people in person roughly two years ago, and some of them I did not even know existed. And it is more than just people to hang out with, to spend time with: these people are kindred, beloved, genuinely close. Not many expats are fortunate enough to leap across an ocean and be greeted with open, loving arms. It's brought me out of myself and I will be eternally grateful.

Finally, I have to give special mention to my incredible husband. He is, as ever, making me lose the power of the written word when I try to describe how he made me feel that week, but it was essentially an exaggeration of what I am lucky enough to feel every day: loved, truly. Cherished and celebrated. Not only did he go along with my whole 'birthday week' exuberance, he organised the best surprise ever, and managed to surprise me before that with a magically-materialising silver necklace from Made With Molecules - specifically the serotonin molecule, for happiness. I am a ridiculously lucky 30-year-old.

Here endeth the birthday update/smushiness, and to counter the latter, here are two of several splendid birthday memes my darling friend Cassie made for me.

Other than birthdayness, the last month has been generally rather wonderful. I've had the opportunity to see friends and spend lots of sunny days with the fur babies. Ben's schedule has allowed us time together and - gasp! - this week we had the whole weekend together. So exciting! Our plans included a movie date and going to an outdoor fundraiser gig for a local animal shelter.

Work is good, and the people I work with continue to make me smile every single day. On top of that, I'm being booked up for MOL work over the summer already, so that's been a nice boost!

The only minor exceptions have been practical worries for my own health (a trip to the doctor, a blood test and an X-ray later showed that my body has not been processing food properly) and that of my car ($600 damage all in all, as it needed a new O2 sensor, an exhaust clean, and a new battery - damn it!), as well as more emotional worry about Bertie's various anxiety-related ailments. As I don't intend on boring you about my dog any further (for now - and right this minute, she's doing OK), and my trip to Urgent Care revealed nothing serious, I'll leave it there as regards my personal problems. The things that have distressed me most of all have been concerning others' pain or difficulty (not making it mine, but feeling so deeply for those I love being in pain). My own troubles have been relatively minimal, though all piled together in one week - the fell clutch of circumstance* - has made it feel a little tough to swim up to the top of it all and keep floating. But I will.

I also shan't be ending on that note. Two much bigger things have come out of this (short) period of crap. The first is just how well these experiences highlight that I really am living here. I'm worrying about normal things, not expat things. In fact, expat things like learning how to do taxes and my first ever time using health insurance passed me by with little to no difficulty whatsoever. I'm taking that as a good sign of being settled.

The second is just how lucky I am. I am surrounded by love. I have an incredible partner, the most amazing friends, and a family who are always there for me, even an ocean away. I have friends here who are as dear to me as they might have been had we always known one another. All this support and positivity and love are what I am taking from these experiences, and not a feeling of being worn down. In fact, I am quite the opposite - and so very thankful for that.


The incredible Lesley

Laughing with my neld friend Christine
The one and only Cassie

So, after all that, I leave you with a smile, and a photo of me nonchalantly blowing a US flag pinwheel. Because that seems fitting. 

*I would like to point out that I am aware that my circumstances do not really merit the poem inspiring this post's title, especially given those that originally inspired Henley to write it, but it still seemed fitting. But not intentionally dramatic!


  1. Your birthday WEEK sounds incredible- Ben is such a good egg! Loved reading your blog hun xxxx

    1. Heh heh, thank you, lovely! He's rather wonderful. Thank you so much for reading! xxxx


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