Three years ago, Pete and I called our families and friends from a hotel in Istanbul to tell them the moment they had been expecting the past 3 years finally happened. We were engaged.
It seems a long time ago and at the same time, not so long ago. We had spent the previous summer apart. Our second bout of long-distance relationship-ing. For those of you that still are long-distancing or have ever long-distanced. My heart goes out to you. It is tortuous.
My lovey returned home Sunday afternoon and we are immediately back to what feels like long-distance again. It feels like ages since I have been home and taking care of business. We left for Morocco on October 8th. When we returned 18 days later, I had two very busy, non-usual, weeks before leaving for The States for a month. When I return home on December 6th it will be almost two months since I have had a regular schedule for housewifing and writing and working.
On my first run after the gluttonous event that was Thanksgiving week(end) I was thinking about how much I missed my usual running route but also about how much I missed my life.
Being away from home and routine can sometimes feel like being in a kind of limbo. I’m not talking about vacations, but more those necessary trips so common to us expats like family visits, visa visits, admin visits. Those visits where you return to a place that should feel familiar, that is a part of you, but doesn’t really fit who you are anymore. You hang between your past and current self. You spend the days continually negotiating the space between these identities. Or at least I do when there is nothing on TV and the cats are responding to my attempts to play with them.
I find it next to impossible to get anything done during these trips. This may be due to my own lack of self-motivation, but mostly I spend my time trying to come to some routine that works. Routines are very important to me. I find it very hard to function without one. That’s not to say I can’t roll with it when I must, but on a day to day basis I like to know what I am doing when. This doesn’t happen when I am away.
Getting back to the Turkey. It was appropriate for Pete to wait for Thanksgiving. First, it’s one of my favourite holidays, right after Halloween, second, it is the time my family traditionally celebrates my birthday along with my Dad’s and Aunt’s. I went into my thirties an engaged woman. An identity I never expected or wanted until I met Pete. Of course, I spent my actual birthday taking care of Pete and then eventually puking myself because we were foolish enough to drink the water in Istanbul, but let’s skip over that.
I was thinking of all these things as I ran and I was thinking that I could never planned the life I am currently living. As a young girl in Sheffield Lake I don’t know if I dared to think this kind of life was possible. I know I had wistful dreams of being an explorer or a dancer or an actress, but I don’t think I ever really took those seriously. Sheffield Lake is not a place that nurtures dreams.
Today I am going back to Sheffield Lake to be a guest teacher in my old middle school. I am teaching a class about Geography. I know it is only a day, only one class, but maybe it will help a student dream of something bigger than Sheffield Lake and take that dream seriously.
Three years ago, I was in Turkey for Thanksgiving (which until that point had been just a joke on Everyone Loves Raymond) and was living a life that seemed impossible to a younger Ariel. I was also embarking on a life that I hadn’t even gotten around to dreaming about as a younger Ariel. Somehow, that moment I said ‘yes,’ and those few days in Istanbul, have come to mean so very much to me and who I am.
And here’s the thing, for as much as I like my daily routines, my larger life timeline and history happened almost entirely by chance or spur-of-the-moment decisions. In the last year, as I slowly come out of a very dark time in which I thought I was a huge failure and life was one big screw-up after another, I have begun to realize that my obsession with planning everything is a bit of a an anchor. When I just go with ‘it,’ ‘it’ seems to produce benefits, whereas when I attempt to plan my life, I end up in Limbo. On the couch, trying to produce something and spinning my wheels.
This Thanksgiving, and the end of The Days of Thanks, I am thankful for all the unexpected and unplanned moments and decisions in my life that have led me here. Despite all my complaining, I am very happy. Perhaps more happy than I have ever been.
Turkey for all!!!!
I hope your Days of Thanks have been equally as illuminating and wonderful and send you into the holiday and end of year with a big smile and goodwill toward all. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a large pimple on my nose that needs attention. It’s like my body knows I’m going to a middle school today and wanted to make sure I fit in, or at least knock me down a peg.