Somewhere in the middle of last week my husband and I became obsessed with coleslaw. Ridculous, I know, but there we were with the recipe book open discussing which cabbage, savoy or chinese, like the world depended on our decision. It was Eid Al Adha and with the kids off school, and both of us not working, it meant time was on our side. Time we both just haven’t had for the past year.
Why coleslaw? After a year of cancer, full time work, children heading off to school and sick parents, why coleslaw? I have no idea, but the minute we had lock on, it was a full blown affair. Would we choose Jamie Oliver or Donna Hay? A chinese cabbage? Did we need more colour? A spring onion or plain white? Of course we’d make the mayo from scratch, of course!
But then things got really complicated.
The equipment required, sure we could grate, chop and dice, but if we were going to get serious we needed a “proper” food processor. Would we spend the money at the flash kitchenware store? Or would we use our airmiles at the local store? A Kenwood or a Phillips? How had we survived in Qatar all these years with just a blender and a Kitchen Aid? Hang on, was there an attachment we could get. Let’s look it up now!
It was a week of extravagent amounts of idle time. Long phone calls, pyjama days, family tv binge watching, and hours and hours of lazing at the beach. It was a gift, and one I recognized as such after the most insane work/health/family disruptive year of my life. It was as if my heart slowed, my mind cleared, and all the clutter, anxiety, and urgency disappeared.
Not too far away, a mere eight hour flight, is my friend Nikki who’s an Aussie based in Hamburg. She’s just moved there and is navigating a new home, city, school and way of life. There is no peace, only a constant stream of “I need what form?” “I’m just heading back to IKEA, again” “They tell me I’ll have wifi in a week or so” and “I really need to make some friends”. One of her children decided to make things a little more interesting for her this move by climbing a tree at school, great! And falling, oh. And fracturing his hip, that’s not good. Which required a fire truck to get him out, nah, that’s not good at all. Did I mention she’s moved into an apartment on the 3rd floor with no lift – great for crutches.
It is a time for new beginnings in the expat world. For many of us it’s a new school year, and for others it’s a move to a different country. New jobs, new contracts, new friends and a whole new way of living.
I know that for many of you time is the enemy right now, whether it’s the ten minute window between an unfamiliar school drop off and an unfamiliar work place, or walking into yet another social event where you know absolutely no-one. Or waiting for yet another Uber/taxi in the heat because you still don’t have a car or a licence, and when you get one is completely out of your control because you’re still waiting for the freaking papers to come out of the shipment!
Time for you right now, is unrecognisable, foreign, and at times, heartbreaking. Hang in there, you’ll get comfortable, life will get easier, and soon you too may find yourself pondering the merits of a spoonful of dijon mustard to the mayonnaise.
It’ll just take a bit of time.