Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Repatriation is not pretty

I have read about reverse culture shock in my books about how to be an expatriate. I understand about grieving the place you've lost, and about wanting things to be the same. Unfortunately though, knowing what is happening doesn't make it any less painful. On the other hand, I am able to kind of observe myself with compassion and see a bigger picture. Here are some of my observations from my first day out and about (yesterday):

1. There is so much space here. I was driving at one point, and looked out the window. The suburban street I was on, appeard to be wider than the largest highway in France.

2. 40 mph is a LOT faster than 40 kph. I kept discovering myself driving under the speed limit, just because I wasn't used to going so fast.

3. Christmas/Holiday light displays are fun. They seem to get brighter and cheerier every time I see them. We went out to a special garden tour where they had amazing light sculptures.

4. It was great to be able to read all the signs, ask for information on where to park, and hear the instructions and not have to be "pretty sure" I understood. I did understand.

5. Having someone else be responsible for getting all the routines right (in a Jazzercise class) was great fun. All I had to do was follow along. High altitude whooped my behind though! Actually doing new routines with someone else leading was awesome.

6. No matter how many times I look out the window, I am not going to see the church steeple or my neighbors' trees.

7. There are no boulangeries nearby and the bread sucks.

Other than that, I'm doing okay.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Still cold. But on the other side of the World.

We arrived in Colorado yesterday evening after a long travel day. Would-be terrorists serve to demonstrate how easy it is to make the US government panic. Added security precatuions had us going through three security checkpoints (one immediately prior to boarding), plus unable to get up out of our seats (at all) for the last hour of travel. (Of course you know when children need to go potty, don't you? Even though we brought everyone at the last minute).

Other than that, it was relatively uneventful. The lovely flight crew on British Airways took good care of us. (Helped that the plane was half empty). The children had a screen-fest - eight hours of movies & television. I watched Julie & Julia and a couple of sit-coms too. It's been awhile since I've watched anything like that.

American television. I never watched that much when I lived here. But since I haven't been ABLE to watch in France, it is more appealing now.

On the drive home, as I looked out the window, I got depressed. Strip malls and highways are certainly not the thing to make me excited about living here again. I told my mom I need to visit someplace beautiful to remember what I like about here.

Fortunately in Colorado, that's not too hard. I will go for a walk on the Highline Canal this afternoon. (But I need snow boots first).

All for now.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Random Thoughts

It is c.o.l.d. here. It is snowing again. Yesterday we didn't leave the house. T made a fire and we hung out in the living room all day long. Watched the movie UP. (Cute). Today I made everyone get out, including myself.

Went and bought boxes so I could pre-pack some things (mostly stuff that the moving companies don't like, but I don't want to part with). Also, just needed to do something toward getting ready to leave.

Looks like we are going to leave on the 27th instead of the 30th. The idea of having a mini-vacation in Brussels just started sounding like too much work. I couldn't get a handle on packing for a trip amidst packing to leave. So we will spend an extra few days in Colorado with my parents and brother.

Still need to do things like arrange electric, gas, water, internet, etc. for the new place. And arrange for the kids to go back to Torah study.

Thinking about how/when/if to push for J's B'nei mitsvah. We were going to start him on the studies next school year. But now I don't know where we will be.

It's going to be an interesting year.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Important things to know/remember

Not everyone will understand this post. But for those of you who do...

1. A has brought BunBun back to bed again. It's like an old friend is home.
2. Both A & E know what a frumious bandersnatch is. And can recite Jabberwocky along with me.
3. J just saved up enough money to purchase a scooter for himself.
4. R has (another) mohawk.

All I can think of for now... but I didn't want to forget.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

How am I doing?

I have a lot of tears today. I am feeling very sad about not seeing the amazing friends I have here anymore. We had our book club this morning, and it was wonderful. But when the talk turned to what's happening next month & the month after, it really hit me. I'm not coming back.

These dear, dear women whose friendships I treasure, will continue on without me. While, "you can always skype!" may be true, it's not going to work out when the gathering here is at 10:30 in the morning (3:30 a.m. Houston time). I just have to say goodbye.

And I don't want to. I don't want to leave. It took my so long to find my bearings here. I've found them now. I know what to do, how to do it and whom to invite. But knowing how to live here is no longer a necessary part of my life.

The good news is that I'm going back to some place that is easy and comfortable. But, even that is temporary. There will be a new place to go, new habits to learn, and new friends to make once T gets the new assignment.

And, as I keep explaining to him, being sad is just part of the process. It doesn't mean I'm not going to go. It doesn't mean I'm mad at him. It's not the end of the world. It's just how I'm feeling today.