Saturday, November 16, 2013

Expat ont the Move - Count Down Diaries

I’m 40 this year.. So I had a list of 40 things to do before I turn 40.. A list to do while I’m 40.. A list to do the decade of 40.. I’m cheesy.. I know! But I am an expat housewife living in Westchester. That is enough to justify Cheesy!

I thought I had my lists all under control. Until a new one just unfolded before me: 40 things to do before I leave Westchester..

I’m leaving.. and I’m loving my next hub.. We couldn’t have landed a better destination.. a dream post.. Why then?

Why am I bargaining for a few months more? A few extra moments to do all the 40 things I set out to do the minute I heard we’re moving.

The expat mind is a very unique one. We spend a lifetime carving a life that keeps changing on us. We take every move as an opportunity to reinvent ourselves, to leave behind all the things we DON”t like about the place we just left., to say goodbye to people we didn’t necessarily click with, houses we couldn’t grow fond of, environments that stifled our desire to thrive.

And yet!

Somehow, everything we DON”T like about that place seems to vanish. We are equipped with memories that can only retain the good stuff.  It kicks in, not when we leave, but when we first hear the words: “Honey, I got the job!”  (side note: Honey is not in our vernacular, I just like the cliché)

He looks at me and all I see is raw frustration. But you said you would jump at it if this job comes, he says to me. Why do you want to separate the family and prolong your stay here? It took you over three years to even like this place and now you want to stay???????

He’s right on all counts: I did hate it here when I first move. Not because it’s New York, but because in and out, I’m no suburban wife. I had to lock my professional ambitions up for 5 years. Did all the housework I hate to do. Became the soccer housewife I swore I’d never be. One would think I’d take any opportunity to jump ship even if it was half as good as the one we have.

But that’s not how the expat mind works!

I did hate it when I first came. But I did manage to turn my life around. I surrounded myself with the best friends Westchester can offer: Hip, positive, strong and colorful people who kept adding and adding to my life. I pursued passions I never had time to explore: hiking, skiing (not so much a passion, rather a terrifying challenge), dance classes, movie nights and infinite good food.

I survived 4 farewells and watched most of my friends go year after year, wondering when it would be my turn.  With every girls night out I realized how incredible those friendships were and still are to my life. It boils down to this: I had no job, little help, zero support system but I had sooo much fun! And that’s what my mind chooses to hold on to.

It’s a flip coin, I tell him, If I chose to resist, to stay who I am, to hold on to a previous life and count the days till the new post is over, I give you 3-4-5 years of misery and in return I’m the happiest partner when it’s time to go. Bring on the bubble wrap! Your house will be chopped up in tiny numbered boxes in no time. I’ll meet you at the airport.
But when I jump right into it, push my limits, explore the options and cherish the gifts that every new post provides, I inadvertently build a life, a good one!

Every hike with a friend is a new root that inches deeper in the ground. Every breakfast with the girls is a day that just started right. Every dance class is a bad moment chased away and replaced with a rush that colors my outlook on the days ahead.
So when I’m asked to go, I’m actually wrapping up years of sincere friendships, fun moments and seriously good food. That doesn’t usually happen with a happy face!

So the count down begins….
40 more things to do before I go……

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

The life of a Westchester Mom - Halloween Madness

10 pm, Halloween night. Kids are bouncing off the wall on a mad sugar high! I’ve been up on my feet since 8 and I’m simply drained to my bones.

An hour ago when I walked in, Walid proudly boasted: “I cleaned up the kitchen!”
Bless him, I thought. I left a huge mess behind as I rushed out of the house to go pick up the boys’ friend, drop three of the 5 in my car at another friend’s, and head to another for trick or treating in their hood.

Granted I still had the last batch of laundry to do, the last two luggage pieces to close and all kids ready for bed. But the kitchen was a nightmare waiting to unfurl and my hero had just saved me from the kitchen witch's axe.
That is, until I stepped into the kitchen, an hour later….

Ten days, a trip to Egypt and a huge wedding later, I’m back and I can’t remember why I wrote that intro. It’s a good thing I had no time to finish it up! Lucky Walid.. he’s off the hook this time.