Sunday, January 17, 2010

letting myself like it here

Yesterday I talked with my friend Nira, who is still in Colombia for her third year and is planning to stay a fourth. I admitted feeling jealous of the teachers at Bolivar who stayed for longer than their initial two year contract. I spent the first couple of months here very sad that we weren't there. I missed our friends, walking up the hill to La Carulla, the birds that began calling at four in the morning, the product ladies at La14 dressed like Energizer batteries and Italian chefs; I missed our nanny, Patricia, and our school secretary, Marlene; I missed and missed and missed.

All of that missing makes it difficult to warm up to a new place. Last night I got off the phone with Nira and cried. "I think we made a mistake," I said to Justin, "a third year would have been so good for us." I don't know what would have happened with that third year. I really don't. We would have been broke. I might have improved my Spanish. We would have taken a few more trips around Colombia, perhaps made it to Cartegena or back to Tyrona on the coast. I would have gone trail running at least a few times, with Justin biking along. Claire might have latched on to a few Spanish words. Perhaps I would have done the Medellin half marathon again.


Justin assured me, "We made an okay decision." Okay!? Okay!? "A good decision," he said, mustering conviction.

Here's what I think: I think I'm afraid to like Kuwait. It's a dump. At least where we are, it is. Sand and trash. There isn't anything shiney and new or glamorous about Kuwait except for its malls. So if I say I like this place, what does that say about me?

Last week, Justin, Claire and I were out for a walk down to the littered beach, along the shore, and back. Near our apartment building, two other teachers on their way home pulled up beside us and stopped. "If you have a camera, I'll take your picture," Monica said. Before us was a line of palms, the setting sun. And all I'd been noticing until then was the trash underfoot. Perhaps I need to look up more.

And perhaps I need to give myself over to living here in Kuwait. Knowing that leaving after two years is emotionally and logistically difficult, we're staying for three or four, maybe five. There are people here that stay for six or seven years. One woman I know says that she and her husband are "lifers." I don't think we are lifers here in Kuwait, but I do think that I need to be done feeling sad about leaving Colombia and I need to let myself like living here in Kuwait.


DC Running Mama said...

Wow, I had no idea that you all were thinking about being over there so long. I like to believe that place shouldn't affect our happiness, but I think it can. You will have to make a conscious effort to find happiness in life. You should check out the PBS series "This Emotional Life." It talks a lot about happiness and how to find it. Human connections are the most important link to happiness, so maybe work on finding those bonds.

DC Running Mama said...

P.S. Regret and wonder only cause agony. The only thing you can do is look forward because you can't change the decisions you've made. (Says the girl that always likes to question her life choices)

Clare said...

imagine yourself 5 years from now if you don't give in and find some way to like it. you don't want that regret. but also, you haven't been there that long...give it more time, but more of a chance too. look for the good stuff. i still think it's so cool and think you are very brave for choosing this life and giving claire a wonderful foundation.

Joie said...

I like what you shared about looking up. Second-guessing isn't helpful because you can't go backwards - but remember that you made the best decision you could based on all you knew at the time you chose. Then forge ahead, being confident that you've chosen well and remembering that God is the giver of JOY, no matter where we are or what we're doing. No matter what. As you seek Him, He will show you His Joy. Thanks for sharing and do look up! :)

Angela and David Kidd said...

While never anywhere exotic like Kuwait, I know what it's like to live somewhere that you don't care for and then oddly, once you leave it you find yourself remembering parts of it you liked. Focus on what those parts are that you'll miss when you are gone and try not to focus on the trash and sand.

The Laughing Mouse said...

Just because you decide to like kuwait does NOT reflect on who you are as a person in a negative way! If you look for weeds, you will find weeds. If you look for roses (or palms!) you will find those. The only thing it may reflect is that you are adult enough and mature enough to *choose* to enjoy the place that you are at in the moment that you are there. That actually takes incredible maturity.

and, remember, a great many of us would love the chance to be in your position right now. On many levels.

(completely unrelated, LOVE the new hair!!!)

jsmarslender said...

Thanks for the comments and encouragement, all. The first year in any new place is up and down. Usually I'm more up than down...