I think I have been obsessing about creating structure in my life. It seems obvious in the work I have created in the last four years, all straight lines, grids, and contained spaces.That’s the way of the expat life though. Building a life, creating structure from chaos, finding a routine.
We arrive knowing next to nothing about the country, the people and the culture except stereotypes and expected weather conditions. We are thrown in to a new language, a new environment often with no immediate support system to show you how to find things to get even the simplest of tasks accomplished. As any expat knows, the smallest of accomplishments can give the biggest rushes of success. As I told a recent arrival don’t expect your to-do list to get done in a day here, if you cross one thing off when your expectation is to get five things done, its been a good day. Accomplish all of them and well there really is a reason to celebrate.
For the spouse that follows their partners to foreign lands, for the ones that are left alone in the house while the ‘work’ is being done and the kids are occupied at school, what is it that ‘we’ do all day? Not many people come outright and ask? Is it all lunches, shopping, exercise classes, wine, organizing the next vacation, summer back “home”?
Certainly yes it is all those things. These things keep me busy ALL day long to a greater of lesser degree with a healthy dose of artmaking thrown in of course.
To figure it all out I need a plan, often in the form of a list, a set of conditions that I can chart my day and feel that at the end of it there has been some form and structure. It drove my kids nuts every morning when I asked them their plans, their after-school sports practice and pick-up times as my day was ultimately tied to theirs. Looking back, I may have been a little obsessive….
As another school year comes to a close, this one is a little bit different. It will be my last with my kids in the house, now that one is at university and the other is off to boarding school in September. Sad, Yes. What will I do all day?