Another month, another move

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It’s 7:15pm and I just want to crawl into my parents’ pull-out sofa bed and pass out.

12 hours earlier we left our spotless new apartment, with stars in our eyes and crumpled clothes on our backs. This was it, our first official workday from our new home.

It’s 7:18pm and we’re taking the familiar elevator up to my parent’s home to pick our son up and say no to my mum’s requests to have dinner with them – just twice, before we say yes.

We’re late because we went to buy groceries for the little guy, who starts school tomorrow. We stood in front of the vegetable aisle for 5 minutes trying to tell spinach apart from every other green leafy leaf. (It’s been 17 months since we last cooked. And last time we shopped, “spinach” was written in English. And we forgot.)

It’s 7:30pm and I’ve shamelessly handed over the freshly bought chicken and pasta to mum, asking her to cook my son’s school lunch.

It’s 7:31pm and I am so ashamed. I’ll chastise myself when I get that half an hour extra of sleep tomorrow night.

The last time I did this, it was so much fun. The novelty of sitting on the floor and eating pizzas, of picking clothes out of boxes and of imagining all the ways to fill up your corner space, is now replaced with a crippling case of nerves and fatigue. And fatigue.

It’s 8:05pm and we’ve been saying bye for about 6 minutes now. I don’t know what we’re expecting: for them to ask us to stay over tonight or to stay forever?

We enter the new place and are instantly glad to have our own space. Except when we see the kid’s lunch bowl and bottles in the sink. Why can he just use paper plates and cups like we do?

It’s 11.38pm and the only stars in my eyes now are the ones swirling around my head.

Kid’s school lunch only took about 2 hours of prep time. That should do – to impress the teachers, that is; he’s going to reject it anyway.

1t’s 12:18 and I’ve been awake for 18 hours and need to be up at I’ll-smash-that-goddamn-alarm o’clock. I’m writing this random piece because I’m overtired and cannot sleep.

Sorry, what were we talking about? I dozed off for a minute there.

Oh yeah, new house. Yay!

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The other day.

Just the other day, we were out window shopping when we got-on-a-flight-and-went-to-melbourne-and-returned-a-month-later-and-flew-out-to-muscat-for-the-weekend-and-signed-the-kid-up-for-school-and-found-an-apartment-and-got-into-a-super-intense-interior-decoration-mode-and-HOLYSHIT-I-FORGOT-ABOUT-THE-BLOG.

I’d apologise for my absence, but then I’d have to apologise for my insolence in assuming that my absence was felt. (Except for you lovely ladies; thank you for checking on me. And I’m sorry.)

Since I last wrote, I’ve been back home to Melbourne and back home to Kuwait, I’ve found a house to make our home again, my hair is blue-er and purple-er and turquoise-er, I got another tattoo, I’m finding my way out of the darkness, and I’m not much wiser than I was three months ago.

But I have been scribbling down incoherent sentences in disconnected places. Maybe at some point in the next few months I’ll be able to unpack my life and regroup my thoughts. Until then, these are the things I think of when the lights go off.

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  1. Meeting old friends is an emotional rocket in your pocket. Must do often.
  2. As Mufasa* wisely taught Simba: “It moves us all through despair and hope, through faith and love, till we find our place in the path unwinding. In the circle of life.” We go from school cliques to relationships to jobs. Before you know it, you’re attending weddings and helping friends move into new homes. And divorces. Then cribs and sleep training, and right back to school cliques. Whether you’re ahead or behind, you’re always in the circle.
  3. Moving homes/ jobs/ across the globe is a massive change. But as long as you’re doing the same old things in a new place, you haven’t moved at all.
  4. Forever is a cop out. Don’t promise to love forever. Promise to love every day.
  5. Anxiety is very real. Very lonely. Very scary. Very get-over-it-ed.
  6. Screw promises. Just get shit done.
  7. Life is hard work. Literally. It’s actual work. When you’re under-appreciated, under-valued and ill-treated, some mentally check out, some quit. Best bet is yourself. Be your own boss. When you figure that out, partner with people who make you happy and help you grow by helping themselves.
  8. Sometimes you need to go back around the world to see where you need to be. Other times, you need to go back around the world to see that there was always a happy place, and there always will be.
  9. You aren’t a bad person for wanting both – a safe home for every child, and a vintage chic yellow settee to go in your new living room.
  10. Me-time is not necessarily for self-discovery. It’s for mentally checking-out and checking other people out. Self-discovery mostly happens at peak stress levels, and perhaps on either side of me-time?
  11. Resentment truly is the poison they all say it is. But it isn’t as easy to let go off as they all ask you to do. Leeching is the way to go. Stick a proverbial worm on your self, let it drain out the bad blood, and don’t try to pull it out too soon. It is slow, painful and puts you off resenting anything for a while.
  12. The cliché, cheesy self-motivational quotes that you stashed away in your teens – DIG THEM OUT. Put them on your wall, mirror, desktop, phone screen. Read them every day.

Less ramblings and more coherent-ish thoughts from the next post on. I promise.

No, wait. I take it back. No promise. No deal. Next week is moving week and pre-kindy for the little guy. There will be no coherence of any sort.

 

*Disclaimer: I’m one of the 3 people in the world who never watched this movie. Luckily, Google.

Un-settling down.

As kids, right when we were in the thick of running wild and having the time of our lives, an adult would walk in and ask us to settle down.

Settle down, or you’ll hurt yourself.

Settle down, and stop making a mess.

Settle down, it’s getting too loud in here.

Just. Settle. Down.

Settle BB

When we left our home in Melbourne almost a year ago, we were very excited to start a new adventure. It took a record-breaking 3 days for the question to burst out of tightly clenched lips: When do you plan to settle down?

We had no plans whatsoever. We just wanted to enjoy being free. But as responsible adults, we simply must not feel free for too long. We must settle down.

For someone who doesn’t have commitment issues, I have major settling-down issues. There’s something very permanent and dreary about that word.

Yes, I’ll set up our home, get our lives into some semblance of a routine, and maybe even plan ahead for our next meal (I’m not making any promises). We all need to do that. It’s called being an adult. But settling down simply cannot be the only way to adult.

Nope. Turns out, it isn’t.

My Facebook feed is rife with stories about “This Couple Travelled The World With Their Toddler” and “Follow This Amazing Family As They Drive From Your Neighbourhood To Where You Don’t Have The Guts To Go.”

They’re farking heroes, these people. Why can’t I be part of The Couple That Visited 20 Countries In 6 Months With Their Babies?

Not gutsy enough? Perhaps.

Not my cup of Carpe Diem? That’s more like it.

I’d love to see the world, but I’m not an impassioned traveller with a wanderlust tattoo on my ankle and a world map as my screen saver. I’m fascinated with the world, and I hope to live in different places and visit many more. In my own sweet time.

On one end, it’s been drilled into us that we need to find a comfortable spot and stay. So we work hard every day to get to that glorious finish line; some days, we question the finish line, but persevere none the less. Because for many, success equates with happiness.

On the other end, it’s is being drilled into us to drop everything we’re doing and go live our life! Because for many others, experience equates with happiness.

But who’s to say what my life should be? I’m not settling for someone else’s dream. And you shouldn’t have to either.

Stay where you are. Pack up and leave. Buy that house. Take a one-way ticket to the other end of the world. Make a baby. Throw a rooftop party.

Just. Don’t. Settle. Down.

Settle JL

So my answer is: No. Even if we find our dream jobs, perfect home and stay for 20 years, I hope we don’t settle down. I hope we’re still restless and looking forward to our next big adventure.

Not that kind of friend

As kids, we had to move countries thanks to the child-friendly pastime called war. I lost a few friends while the adults who lead the world squabbled like adults who lead the world. Many other friendships were lost in translation, literally; it wasn’t easy to learn 3 new languages to keep up with the other 7 year olds in India.

While teen years are the most confusing to most people, I was at my cockiest best. I was making friends while walking from the water cooler to the library. Back then, conversation came as easily and frequently as awkward silences do these days. I could write a whole post on my school friends! Oh wait, I did.

If the number of ‘Miss Friendly” sashes I had earned by the end of my school years was anything to go by, life was going to be a breeze.

And as promised by my tone, it was not a breeze.

The rules of adulting were chucked at my face in quick, migraine-inducing succession.

Once you cross 18, tomboys are called butch. There’s no such thing as just texting. There’s feminine and there’s masculine, and you need to choose – now. You’re either politely submissive or an ice queen bitch; you need to choose – now. Pick a clique. You will be judged, adored and despised for reasons beyond your control. Just don’t be a bitch about it.

Fark me, these are the rules against which all of us get measured. Lucky for me, I stopped giving a shit.

Needless to say, I haven’t been winning any “Miss Friendly” sashes in the last decade.

Grown-up-ness also marks the switch from multiple best friends to multiple friend circles. Work friends, family friends, husband’s friends, old friends, mama friends and miscellaneous.

Even within these circles, I sometimes find myself trying to find my self. My fellow former refugees and move-ers may correlate. We don’t have much in common with a large group, our interests are as flaky as our thoughts, and we intermittently drift far, far away. When the friends are great, the place isn’t. When the place is good, you miss the friends. It’s not that we’re dissatisfied, we just want everything. Is that too much to ask for? We honestly want to belong, but seem to have misplaced the ability, somewhere in transit.

Fitting in was never easy for me. Perhaps I wasn’t trying hard enough – or trying at all. It’s not that I didn’t want to; there were several times in my life where fitting in would’ve made life much easier. Instead I invariably, and inevitably, turn into a bumbling, awkward and confused mess with incomplete sentences dribbling out of my gaping mouth.

Luckily, I always find a fabulous bunch of misfits. Our rough edges, broken corners and missing parts make us a noisy bag of spares.

I don’t meet them regularly, don’t share my deepest darkest secrets and don’t know their families like my own. Perhaps that’s why I enjoy their company like a dehydrated person enjoys an ice-cold Slurpee on a wildly hot day. (Yes, it needed all those adjectives.)

Our complete lack of rules and structures of traditional friendships means that no one feels let down or left out. We discuss to great depths our current joys and trials. We celebrate each other’s lives without reflecting on what it means for the future or past. We laugh, cry and over-share. We drink, dance, and then return to our best friends and soul mates and childhood friends.

Every day I miss these ridiculously kind and funny people I call my friends. The very thought of them makes me feel pure happiness of having known them.

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Then, there are people you can’t call friends, because as heart-warming as the word is, it isn’t big enough to carry your love for them.

No matter how distant I feel in a room full of friends, I know I’ll never be lonely because I have 2 of these people. My soul people. I’m the best version of me, when I’m with these beautiful humans.

I must confess something at this point. While this post is an xoxo to the fantastic friends I’ve made over the years, I do have an ulterior motive. This post is also an ad for new friends, of the face-to-face variety. (I have a head-start with my school friends; but we bonded as 17 year olds, and are too busy reminiscing. Leave us alone.)

So here I stand. 32 years old, and starting all over again. I’m calling all misfits and crazies. Old friends and new. I’m open to coffee, frozen yoghurt or all-you-can-eat buffets. I’ll talk, listen, laugh and cry – not necessarily at the appropriate times, but I’ll work on that. I won’t break any promises if you don’t make any. It’ll be a breeze, I promise!

I want my “Miss Friendly” sash back, goddamnit.

Got some change?

For those of you who’ve been following my blog (Babe? Are you still reading? Ma? Chechi? Is that an echo?) you’ll know that I’m back home with the parents as a pit stop to our next big adventure. When I say pit stop, what I really mean is ‘time to check the map again’. Either way, being here has brought back an avalanche of memories.

I claim to have a photographic memory. I claim it and this is my blog, so I won’t refute it. When I manage to drag myself off the couch and get on a treadmill, I ease the trauma by visualising the streets that I walked through while growing up. Now that I’m back on the streets (not literally! Ok, maybe a little literally), I can see that everything has changed. Where our old home stood is an ugly multi-storey apartment, our little corner store is now a slick car rental outlet and my favourite shopping haunt is now a deserted street half in ruins.

Our new home is better by a mile, the new corner store is a lot like the old one and the new popular shopping mall is an exercise in extravagance. Two out of three, I guess change is not all bad.

In a previous post I wrote about catching up with my friends from high school. On our last day at school, we hugged and wept and promised to never change.

The Backstreet Boys were performing in Melbourne a week after I was flying out; If I hadn’t changed, I would’ve gladly swapped my life adventure for 3 hours of screaming and weeping for 5 gorgeous middle-aged men. Yeah, I’m not entirely convinced about that choice.

Aaaaannyway…

For a very long time after school, I clung on to who I was in the hopes of drawing confidence from the memory. I waited patiently for the right moment to reveal my old self to my new world. It never came, and I found a new self in the process. I instantly hated her. After a few dozen pity parties, I found validation in the form of friendship from the unlikeliest and coolest bunch of people I know, and more importantly, from myself.

That was only the first of many versions of me. Now I’m like Voldermort, looking to save memories of myself in different phases in a bid to live forever. Minus all the killing and soul-splitting.

The main reason I feared change was that I equated it with compromise. To me, I had life sorted out when I was 16. I knew what I wanted to do, where I wanted to live and the kind of person I wanted to be with. Today, I’m not doing what I thought I wanted to do, not living anywhere in particular and not married to a cool dude wearing low-slung jeans and a dog-tag chain, with a catch phrase to reassert coolness. Dogged that one!

The other reason is that I didn’t want to grow up. And sometimes I still say that I haven’t grown up, but come on, 16-year-old me wouldn’t know what to do with a double shot of vodka and Kahlua, and I’m never going back to that! (Drink it all up. That’s the correct answer. Drink it all up.)

When I first heard ‘More than words’ by Extreme, I loved it. I loved the sound and the voices. I loved that it meant love is more than words. That was before I hated it. I hated that it meant you can say you love me till the cows come home, but it don’t mean shit until you take your pants off. Now I love it. I love how prophetic it is about being affectionate and passionate, and not robotically uttering the words.

Cool story bro, right? I have a point, I promise. How we see things – wait, I’m not Deepak Chopra – how I see things is a perception based on my knowledge of the world around me and my acceptance of it. So I now see change as widening my horizons, learning more and living more.

My dreams and aspirations have changed. How I love and want to be loved changes all the time. I’m not flaky, just discovering more about myself every day and making this little ride a lot more fun. I will always love the people I loved, and I may love many more. I’m sure of what I stand for, but they may be enhanced further as I learn more. I still want to be happy, but the how may keep changing.

Now I’ve accepted that change is inevitable, and thank heavens for it. I only need to stay calm and take it as a new happy memory in the making. Slow and easy, awkward stages and all. Somewhere in the middle, I know I’ll find me again.

Change

Up, up and oh hey! What am I doing?

Here I am. I have the time, I have the space, I even have the pen and paper. But I don’t have the words. Geez, and it’s only my second post (Yes, I use pen on paper before fingers on keyboard). Staring at my flight number slowly creep up the leader board isn’t helping either. 2 hours to get on my 5-hour flight to my first home, and maybe, next one.

In 32 years, I haven’t lived in one place for more than 8 years at a time. First there was Kuwait. My birthplace and first home. Then during the Gulf war there was Nagercoil, a little town in Tamil Nadu, India. My refuge and emotional home. The place I go to in my dreams. Trivandrum, India came next. The place I liked least, but found the people I love most. After that Bangalore, India was my personal home. Only mine. No family, no loves, just me. Melbourne, Australia became home, where I built my life and home with my love.

And now I’m out again, looking for my next home. I’m heading to the golden sands and blinding splendour of the Middle East, hungry for a new adventure with a generous side serve of shish kebab and hoummus.

Look at that – the words are coming in after all! And my flight has moved up a notch. Celebrations all around!

Thirty thousand feet up in the sky and three hours into my flight, I struggle to fall asleep. It could be the person in front of me with his seat pushed back all the way, or it could be the voices in my head. I can’t speak for the stranger on my lap, but the voices in my head are old friends/foes (No, I will not say frenemies). The questions are the same – Were we insane to leave our jobs in Melbourne and head overseas with no job? What if nothing works out? Why would any adult in their right mind pluck a 1-year old from his secure environment and move into the unknown? Are we absolutely, farking mental?

Here’s the thing – I don’t know if I’ve blocked out the negativity, but those thoughts don’t frighten me. Yes, they make me nervous, but somehow, in my very little world, they make me feel like I’m following at least one of those pins I pin so fervently on Pinterest.

This is a very new, unfamiliar state-of-mind for me. I’m the kind of obsessive, neurotic being who needs to know what next plans are, and have it in writing to make sure no one changes my plans. Now suddenly I thrive under the doubtful glances. I love not knowing what I’ll be doing 5 days from now. Eating. I’ll still be eating five days from now. But in life, I don’t know! I guess I just gotta have faith fa-faith fa-faith.

We’ll be landing soon, so wish me luck and keep watching this space to see me go from fearless to clueless to quivering mess to success. Repeat cycle.