“The foolish man seeks happiness in the distance. The wise grows it under his feet” – James Oppenheim
I can live out of one (big) suitcase and I don’t care about “stuff”. When moving lock, stock and barrel it’s better to have no barrels and very little stock. It makes things quicker, smoother and results in very little unpacking at your new destination. In our time overseas we have accumulated a few ‘home’ things, mostly from Singapore, because we felt like we should be accumulating things, but honestly – I could leave it all tomorrow. As long as I have my men, my dogs, some clothes/toiletries and my camera and laptop, I’m good to go. Who cares about wardrobes and sideboards and ornaments? Isn’t that what IKEA is for? 🙂
I have become a walking XE Converter. Having lived and worked in a whole host of countries in the last 10 years means that I operate in a range of currencies. My job uses British Pound and US Dollars, I’m from Ireland so I mainly convert everything to Euro but of course I live in Dubai so I also operate in Dirhams. I also know how much everything is in Singapore Dollars and Bahraini Dinar and when pushed, I can roughly tell you how many Indonesian Rupiah you’ll get for 20 euro (about 303k).
Wherever I am, there I am. If I had a Euro/Dirham/Singapore Dollar/Bahraini Dinar for every time someone asked me if I missed home I would be a very wealthy woman. And if I had another one for every shocked look I get when the answer is ‘no’, well… you get the picture. I have been overseas for so long now that home is no longer Ireland – it’s wherever I am with Adrian and Charlie, as cliched as that sounds. Our entire married life has been spent overseas and I had Charlie overseas so, home is… overseas! 🙂
I am a human-sized elastic band. Last minute changes and sudden about-turns are pretty normal when you’re an expat, and you just learn to adapt and get on with it. We planned to make one solid, permanent move a few years ago but ended up shlepping through three different destinations before stopping at one that was not even on our radar. When I was in a new country, six days away from giving birth and my mum called to say she couldn’t fly out to help because she broke her ankle and Adrian couldn’t get time off because he was in a new job, I was like “cool” – I can totally do this new mom thing. If we had to leave Dubai tomorrow and move somewhere else, I’d be totally ready for that too (mentally, of course – the house would be up in a heap).
Amazing/crazy/scary things become the new normal. Giving birth 10 days after arriving in a new country? Totally fine. Walking to work and seeing a Spitting Cobra lounging in the drain on the side of the road? Normal. Watching the GCC army roll into Bahrain after a State of Emergency had been declared? No big deal. I sometimes wonder whether I will ever be shocked again? Actually, that’s a lie – when we moved house in Dubai and the internet provider told me we’d have to wait 10 days for a connection I nearly keeled over in front of him 🙂
Once you start moving, it’s hard to stop. There’s something addictive about arriving in a new place and having to start over. New people, new food and new sights and sounds all waiting to be explored. Of course, it’s bloody stressful too, but when you look back you never remember that. You only remember the thrills, the sheer excitement and the amazing people you met – and it makes you want to do it all over again.