Well well well.
What in the world am I doing here? Upon brushing away the cobwebs, it appears that after three months (or is it four? or five?) of inactivity, my blog is still here and there are still people visiting. I received so much encouragement here, on facebook, through email, face to face... so many times I thought about coming back, and decided not to.
I even started a new blog elsewhere -- a blog where I have written dark, scary things that I would never want people to read. It's where I've retreated to in my saddest, emptiest moments. It's not actually who I am, but who I become when I'm angry and frustrated. It's who I might be from time to time for a short period, but not who I intend to be in the long run.
I was all set on never showing my face here again though. All set until yesterday, when a series of events lead me to rethink my decision, one of which was an email from my pal Keith, the Brit over in Bretagne, Keith formerly of "A Taste of Garlic" and "Breton Diary".
It was just friendly, asking if I've hit any scooter drivers lately and how was Victor? He said people know what I'm going through -- some of you have been there. And we help each other. We share our stories, we let people into our lives, and in the process we make meaningful friendships and connections with other humans. I have never met Keith face to face but his Garlic blogs gave me such a good laugh and put me in touch with new friends. In the email, he gave me a challenge. "If you go back to Travelling Amber, I'll go back to Breton Diary". It was a virtual hand, guiding me back to something I have always loved and appreciated, so I decided to take it. I extended my virtual hand, and hopefully we'll be seeing him back in some of his old haunts soon, too.
The point is that we, as expats, all go through shit. We have days that are just horrible, and of course we think they are more horrible because we're in a foreign country. We wonder if life would have been more meaningful, if marriage would have been more successful, if parenting would have been easier, "somewhere else".
But it was more than just Keith emailing me. It was also the phone call I got at 8am on Sunday morning from another expat friend's boyfriend. He told me with sorrow in his heart that my friend's grandpa had passed away back home, and if I had any advice or helpful tips to offer to get her back home to her family during this tragic time. I answered the phone without knowing what was happening, just simply because a friend was calling and maybe needed me for something. And true story, she needed me for something that I've been through, because we'll all go through it at some point. Death abroad is heartbreaking, and I wanted to be there for her.
I don't like asking for help. I don't like "needing" people, because I always feel disappointed in the outcome. I want to be there for others, but then I don't ask anybody to be there for me. I figured I'd close my blog much like hiding out in a cave, and come back some day (to somewhere else) when I was feeling better. But in truth, I do need people. I need to know that my choice to stay in France was the right one. That others of you have been through divorce and come out of it on the other side. That through all of this, I'm not alone and I'll be alright. In my moments of weakness, why don't I depend on all of you like I'd want you to depend on me?
One of my dilemmas is what to write about. I've never been one to censor anything, but I don't want to share the details. I'm 26 years old and facing a divorce -- how much a failure could I possibly be? And in all this time, I've done so much reflecting on the mistakes I've made -- how could I not see it coming? And how could I have possibly been so stupid to get married in the first place? It's funny how clear our vision is when we're thinking of all the things we've done in life that we regret. But the more I dwell on my regrets, the less I get on with my life. I've decided that in order to do just that, I won't talk about that. I'll talk about the rest -- the fact that Victor still doesn't sleep through the night, or that I still hate French drivers, but I won't rant about my ex. What's happening between us is heartbreaking but I don't see any other possibility at all. Wishing I had a time machine won't improve my life at all.
So where am I right now? Successfully entrepreneur-ing, moreso now than ever before, travelling for work once a week, juggling house, baby, job, and going to sleep at the end of every day knowing that "I did it". It feels good to be independent. I stopped teaching university students for the moment as I need time to focus on getting life in order and taking care of myself (and let's face it -- students added unnecessary amounts of stress to my life and this really isn't the time for that). I'm still renovating the new house, which I live in with Victor two weeks out of the month and alone the other two weeks of the month. But all that is about to change... because...
I'm a host mom!
I took a look at my life and identified my resources. I have income from my job, I have projects I do, but where can I increase my potential in order to secure a better future for V and I? And it hit me. I have an entire floor in this big old house with bedrooms and a bathroom where I was just stocking "stuff". I cleared out the rooms, threw massive amounts of crap from my old life away and stored the rest in the basement to sell at a later date, and put some ads out. I'll be hosting two 20-year old college students who are also foreigners. One is here for school and the other is a teaching assistant. They'll fill up my house, bring some life to the place and hopefully give me some new stories to tell. I'm looking forward to helping them out, to getting to know them, and seeing where the rest of my life is going to lead me. This is a positive step in a new direction, and it's something I've always wanted to do.
Tomorrow I'll pick up the first girl at the train station, and Thursday we'll move in the second girl. Friday I'll get Vivi after having spent a good week with his dad, and Saturday we'll be a group of four. My house will be full of laughter and happiness, and I think that's just what I need right now.
So, looks like I'm back for now. I might still move elsewhere (or stay there when I'm feeling dark and twisty) but I think I'm ready to start sharing again, concentrating on what's good, and letting my friends lend me a shoulder from time to time. We'll see how this goes, but I have every intention of making sure the rest of my life is a success.