Monday, February 25, 2008

6 months

6 months ago today we arrived back in Ottawa.

It was our second day in Canada - well not even second really as we had arrived late afternoon the day before. A long and emotional day - long with flights (though a nice stop over in Amsterdam), but emotional leaving Luxembourg. I can still remember the incredulous feeling of being on the bus to the airport with all our suitcases as we drove through the Grund.

But I don't want to go there tonight.

What I do want to do is try and figure out if we feel established. We had it from some very good sources that it takes 6 months to settle, and feel back at home in your own country.

At the time it seemed an insurmountable feet - to feel out of place for 6 months??? Geez. But back then everything felt wrong - and a lot of things were going wrong. Mostly contracting stuff with the house (oh the stories) and it felt like we were struggling day to day - 6 months was a hideously long time.

And now it is here. And it has gone so quickly.

I don't know how settled I feel. I wish there were a test I could take that would give me a percentage based on my answers. My usual wish about most things - give me a test, tell me the numbers... a constant reminder that I am the daughter of an actuary, and that everything in life should come down to a mathematical equation ("Ah!" you say, "now I understand").

There are parts of me that are thrilled to be home. Last week, it must have been Wednesday, I was leaving our community centre/library and I caught myself thinking how happy I was to be home, and to be able to be a stay at home mother. Really - I had that moment.

I love that the kids are taking swimming lessons - and that it's easy to do here. I love the community centre and their programs. I love the free reading groups at the library (that I would willingly pay for). I love Julia's nursery school. I love our neighbours, and the great bond we have developed with them. I love having my best friend a 20 minute drive away, and that my kids love her. I love being able to hop in the car and go to my mum's for a day (and I live in eternal hope that spring will one day arrive, so every time we plan something with my mother it's not "tentative, let's see if it snows")

And there are things I don't love. Shovelling has lost it's cachet. I miss the culture of Europe - but that is partly my fault, I live a very narrow life in some ways at the moment, tied to my Mom Schedule. I miss silly things, like coffee. We had some Nespresso at my neighbour's birthday party last weekend and I thought "oh yeah, that's what it's supposed to taste like."

I desperately miss the olives from Del Haize. Yes, they deserve their own little paragraph. They were delicious.

I miss being an ex-pat. I don't really know how to explain what I mean by that. I miss being able to be somewhere else and knowing if I didn't like it I could always come home. Sounds ridiculous, I know. And I think I miss being a bit "different". Canadians in Luxembourg are not run of the mill - here I am just another Canadian. Somehow I felt more national pride there than I do here.

And of course there are the people I miss, but I will be in tears if I go down that road.

I think one of the big factors in not feeling settled is that Marc's employment future is still unclear. I didn't expect that 6 months into this adventure. He has a few things that look good, and now I am wondering if it's going to be a case of not raining but pouring. But it does have both of us feeling uneasy at the moment. And just kind of not permanent. Though in retrospect we did the same things for the first 18 months in Luxembourg, going 6 month contract to 6 month contract. I seem to remember hating it then too.

So - 6 months in. I am not settled. I don't think I know what would make feel settled though. I do know that every day takes me farther away from what our lives were. I try not to focus on that, because that life was far from perfect - at least for us.

Maybe I should just let my brain rest on this one. I'll check in again on myself at 9 months.

1 comment:

Kimberly said...

What an odd mix of emotions, eh? The six month mark does seem to mean something though. Not a complete settling in...more like...75% of the way there? I think the remaining 25% is done over a period of years...gradually, till one day you realize you're there. Home. And the idea of anywhere else as home seems ridiculous.

I look forward to that day here.

I know what you mean about feeling more patriotic when living outside your country. I was more Canadian when we lived in the States for four years than I ever have been or will be again, I think. I miss being different. Special.