Wednesday, December 2, 2009

perhaps not so directionless

Yesterday on the bus ride home, staring out the window at the passing cars and sand and sand-colored buildings, I wondered what I am doing here. When we left the States a couple of years ago, Justin and I were self-righteously adamant that we weren't going to live a materialistic, tied-down, American existence maxing out our credit cards and zoning out in front of the tv. Oh, we were so totally unfair about Americans and happy to be mistaken for Canadians (because we all know that none of them are in debt or zoning out, right?).

And in the last couple of years, we've been talking a lot about how we want to live. As if, any day now, we'll start; as if we aren't already in the middle of living.

So yesterday when I looked at my desert and plastic bags floating on the breeze, and I thought what am I doing here? I wondered what it'd be like to return to the States. This is something that expats talk about: returning or not returning and all the reasons behind either decision.

There is so much of the world that we want to see yet. And I'm not sure why that is part of us now; I'm not sure why we want to see so much of this world. Where does that desire come from?

Now that we aren't living in the States, it's much easier for me to think that I could be happy there. I wasn't very happy where we last lived (think: crying every other day), but Justin and I have a wishlist of Where We Could Settle If/When We Return. It's a short list, but a good list. Right now, we're trying to decide what might be best for us as a family. We are hoping that this is the year we establish our direction. Are we planning to stay abroad for five, ten, twenty years? Do we return only to leave again (are we allowed to do that?)? Financially, how do we want to invest? Real estate around the world?

And we do think about family and friends in the States. Since this is shaping up to be our life, not just a lark, we've started talking about how often we even want to return for vacations. It's very awkward. If we stay abroad, visiting is a give and take and we cannot be the only ones traveling. A few older, experienced expats have said that to us. At some point, us being abroad does not mean it is solely our responsibility to make a visit happen. Like I said, awkward.

Kuwait is Kuwait. I'm not enthralled but I also haven't given myself a year. I don't expect to be enthralled. But we're meeting wonderful people and we're comfortable. I feel electrically alive in a desert and I certainly didn't expect that. I feel like I am learning to see people in a new way. Perhaps that alone is why I am here. Because I needed to learn to see people in a new way.


The Chapples said...

Having only lived in three cities (all within NC and SC), I am envious of your broadened perspective. Sounds like you guys are really listening to your hearts/guts about where you need to be. I love reading about your adventures in the meantime.

jessica said...

We're not nearly as adventurous, but we did move a few states away to our dream town the day after getting married. After a couple years we reluctantly moved back to KC for jobs and family. We've had a few extended family traumas in the past year that have made us glad to be nearby, but I don't know if a week goes by that either S or I don't regret leaving our chosen hometown :(

Plus, we're both the type to enjoy our families more from a distance ;) Ahhh, to just say "sorry, we're not travelling back home this winter" sounds pretty nice right now.

Angela and David Kidd said...

I've lived all over the US but never outside the US. I am really jealous of the lives you guys have carved out for yourself. I also can't imagine how brave you are. I think so many people say they want to see lots of the world but just decide it's too hard and just accept that excuse.

And I understand what you mean about traveling. My best friend lives in Belgium and my sister may be living in Paris soon. While I went to visit my friend when she lived in Slovakia, I haven't been back in a while. Now I use Zach as an excuse but I konw I need to make it over there.

Clare said...

The grass is always greener. What is nice is that you have a choice, and that what you choose now doesn't have to be what you choose in 5, 10, 20 years. The fact that you're AWAY now is probably good in the long run for making the right decision...harder to get away and start that life you always wanted than it is to come home.'s killing me. (Well, not right now, but I can see it being a future problem.)

Billie said...

OMG....I can so relate. My hubby works for the State Department and we are set to go overseas again soon. We already lived in Germany for three and a half years (though two of those I was deployed). I had always wanted to live abroad and part of the reason I joined the Army. But it was easier then. I was single, no kids so I didn't feel so bad about living away from family. But now that we have our boy the guilt factor is way up there. And we get it EVERY time I go home. My parents ALWAYS say something about how they wished we lived closer. It's tough. I feel like I want to experience more cultures and don't know how to let the guilt factor go!!