Sometimes you don’t even realize you weren’t feeling like yourself until you begin to feel like yourself again. A few weeks ago, I started reading books again and cut back slightly on the nighttime Netflix. I downloaded my novel-editing software to my new laptop and began to finally read comments from my novel’s “beta readers” and get back to working on my book. I’m feeling a little more settled, three months in to this post, which means feeling like my brain is back up to normal speed.
I’ve done this whole moving-to-a-new-place-and-setting-up-a-life a number of times now, so why am I always surprised/disappointed in myself for feeling unsettled for so long when we arrive to a new post? By now I should know a few things about myself: My PMS expresses itself in me breaking exactly three glass objects every month and locking myself out of my apartment once; I feel sad every single year in mid-February; and I don’t feel like myself during transitions. Yet all these things continue to surprise me, every time! It’s like I don’t even remember bursting into tears when I couldn’t find a specific Starbucks in Madrid or when I walked around the vicinity of my Madrid neighborhood for hours with gallons of paint in my hands because I knew I was so close to home but couldn’t remember exactly where I was. And, more recently, five months after moving to Jerusalem, I was still bummed over a city I found dreary and wrote how I felt “sad, isolated, a little lonely, and just very cooped up.” I cried to my Arabic tutor one day during that time when she asked how I was doing, which is a thing I’m only just remembering now.
This transition to Morocco is easy in a lot of ways because Morocco is fairly easy, and sunny, pretty, if-not-a-little-boring Rabat is not a difficult place in which to live. But this mini-posting comes after our longest post, Jerusalem, where I actually felt quite settled by the end of our three-year tour despite an inauspicious start. I had a job at the Consulate, I eventually put in some solid work on my novel, and I had a great group of friends. By comparison, this wee little stopover post before two years in Algiers is just so short. It feels too short of a time to get a job, too short of a time to make truly close friends, too short of a time to paint the guest bedroom matte black like I want. It feels too short of a time to do much other than more than my share of supporting the local rug makers, blanket and basket weavers, potters, etc.
Adam dislikes being unsettled even more than me. During our in-between-tours home leaves to the States, he is the first to be ready to be done with vacay, implanted into our new city, and settled in to his routine. And once we arrive to our new post, he settles faster than Jello in a cold fridge. Within minutes of landing, he’s joined an Ultimate frisbee team and almost literally any other sports team he can find. He’s got his gym. He has his favorite lunch spots. He’s practicing the flute and meditating daily. Boom, done, easy peasy, and he can be comfortable in his (fairly rigorous) routine right away.
But me, well I’m a totally different story. I want my routine to be writing and reading and blogging and hosting parties, but my brain and my creativity seem as lost as those dinner plates that never arrived from Jerusalem. I go heavy on the Netflix and light on the books. Heavy on putting furniture and paintings in new spots but not putting words on the page.
My friend who just had a baby and isn’t feeling like herself said she wonders how I fill my days. I wonder that too, I told her. Sometimes Adam gets home from school/workout/studying/some other productive thing and I struggle to account for what I did.
Anyways, I just wanted to blog about how these transition are not easy, even when it’s a delightfully easy-to-live place like Rabat. In the future, I’m definitely pushing for more three-year tours. At the very least, maybe I can remember the difficulty of moving to a new place this summer when we arrive in Algiers and at least avoid the surprise of finding that being in a new country ain’t easy.
To embracing transitions (I guess? Or maybe to finally feeling less unsettled),
Well said Emily. I feel this whole post. I think I take longer than 3 months.
Same. We arrived in Algiers a little over a month ago and I have yet to develop a routine. People ask me what I did yesterday/over the weekend/last week and I have trouble remembering. I think my problem is that I need to have my surroundings clean/organized before I can devote time and energy to being productive (or indulging in touristy things) and that’s hard to do when my home feels like a hotel.
Yes! I couldn’t believe when my husband started his flute lessons in our apartment when it still looked so blah before our stuff arrived. I can’t even think of doing anything like that until everything feels nice and homey. Angelay, looks like we’ll overlap in Algiers (we should be arriving in August). Hope you settle in soon, but a month is nothing.
I look forward to meeting you in August!
Reblogged this on Lourdes B Fernandez and commented:
Transitions are some of the hardest things I’ve had to face. They’re painful and difficult but they also make us better human beings. I hope you enjoy reading this as much as I did. It’s good to know we’re not alone when we go through difficult transitions.