Life Lessons from Overseas / Travel

Transition Time

_MG_0585
Our supply of soy sauce, sesame oil, hoisin, fish sauce and vinegar to get us through the first 6 months in Delhi.  Now is not the time to tell me I can find all of these items (and cheaply) at the commissary.

I’m in a funk right now.  It’s the pre-moving-across-the-world-again funk.

Come two days before we leave for India, I’m going to be flying high with excitement.  I thrive on a high-octane mix of stress and adrenaline.  I love the thrill of actually boarding the plane to head somewhere new and different.

But for me, those weeks before we actually get to pack our bags are always a little yucky.  I’m moody, crabby, emotional, full of restless discontent–a far cry from my normal, happy state of being.  I find myself torn between looking forward to leaving and wishing we didn’t have to just yet.   I feel a bit unmoored, detached from both the place I’m in now and the place we’re going to.

All of the hard good-byes are looming on the horizon and beyond that, I don’t know entirely what comes next.  Moving across the world is a little like having a baby.  Until you have one, it’s really hard to imagine the ways your life will change or how those changes might affect you.  You can plan for anything but you can’t prepare for everything.  It’s hard to know ahead of time how having a baby–or moving overseas–will change the meals you’ll eat, the way you’ll organize your days and what you’ll do with your weekends.

No matter how many pictures of our future home we get, no matter how many questions our wonderful sponsors answer, we’re still not going to know what it will feel like to live in New Delhi this time until we actually get there.

And so, in a way, I don’t actually know how to feel in the days and weeks before we leave.

Excited for the new adventures?  Nervous for the challenges that inevitably lie ahead?  Sad for the friends and familiarity we’ll be leaving behind?  Happy to know that we’ll be able to actually settle down soon, unpack and stop living in limbo?

It’s a topsy-turvy mess of feelings.

I see photos on Facebook of friends I used to have, taking vacations at lake houses I used to visit.  I feel wistful.  Had I never left home, had I never lost touch, maybe I would be in those photos instead of packing up to move across the world again.

I take Will to the park he loves, to the grocery store where I buy him the fruit he loves.  I watch how happy he is here in America and I think “What are we doing? Why are we putting him through yet another transition?”

I exchanged messages with my friend out in California today about the guilt we feel living far away from our families and I felt even guiltier to realize that, not only did we miss her beautiful wedding, but we probably won’t see each other for at least another year or two.  I haven’t seen her since before we left for China.  How badly I wish we still lived close enough to one another to go out for breakfast on Saturday mornings the way we we used to.

I remember the drudgery of packing, traveling, getting over jet-lag, unpacking and I think, yet again, “why aren’t we just normal people living in Northern Virginia, satisfied with a yearly vacation to the Outer Banks?”

And yet…

I’m tired of buying things–constantly buying things here in America.  Honestly, life is a lot simpler when you don’t know what you’re missing.  It will be nice to get back overseas and back into our habit of making do or doing without.

I’m looking forward to living a few blocks away from Chris’ sister in New Delhi.  I’m looking forward to reuniting with all of our friends in India.  I can’t wait set up our home again, to start looking for work and making new friends.

I’m looking forward to all of the spirt and soul and grit I missed so much in China.  I’m looking forward to the rush and the fun of discovering new favorite haunts around the city.  I’m looking forward to sunshine and mango season.  I’m looking forward to the head bobbles and the warmth and the ability to communicate more easily with the people I meet on the street.

And I’ll admit it, I’m looking forward to having a housekeeper again!  To open-air markets.  To lassis and paneer and morning dosas.  To chai and South Indian coffee (and an aside: where can I get South Indian-style coffee in Delhi??)

And yet…

I’m dreading that horrible feeling of dislocation on that first long day in country.  That day when I don’t have a phone, the internet, or any clue where my husband is and when he’ll be coming home.

I’m dreading those awkward first few weeks trying to sort out relationships with housekeepers and neighbors, getting lost and having to ask for help and not knowing where things are and how things work.  I’m dreading those moments when I meet people I like and I wish we could just be insta-best friends instead of having to test the waters and figure out how we might fit into each other’s lives.

I remember the good old days in Chengdu where I could walk around in shorts and a tank top, if I wanted to, without anyone giving me a second glance.  Where the most annoying thing about mosquito bites was the itching and not the risk of dengue fever.

I’m remembering the poverty, the gauntlet of beggars outside the taxi windows, the annoyance of having an Indian man assume I don’t know something simply because I’m a women.  I’m remembering the eve-teasing and the smells and the dust.

I wonder what it will be like for Chris, returning to the exact place he lived as a teenager, the place he graduated from high school.  What will it be like to return now as a grown man with a family?

I wonder what it will be like for me, returning to India not as a care-free intern living off street food and 3rd-class train tickets, but instead as a diplomatic spouse with a diplo-kid and a house “in the Enclave.”

I love India, I know I’ll love our lives there eventually.  But this yucky pre-go time makes me anxious to just get over there and get started already.

We bought 5 gallons of soy sauce and sesame oil last weekend to see us through until we find a good supply in New Delhi.  We picked out new sheets to pack in our luggage for that weird first night in our new home.  We have new address labels and plans for what we are going to do differently, better in New Delhi.  Obsessing over the little details is the way we cope with the transition and the inability to really prepare for how our lives are about to change so dramatically.  Obsessing and a little bit of retail therapy.

This funky time isn’t fun, but thankfully it also goes by so quickly.  Before we know it we’ll be organizing piles for UAB and HHE, packing our bags and heading for the airport.

Until then, I’m trying to dig into the process and embrace the funkiness.  It’s a detox of sorts, a time to purge myself of all of feelings, schedules, arrangements and conveniences I’ve gotten used to and that will become so utterly irrelevant in just a few more short weeks.  To really embrace all of the newness, there are always a few things, mentally and emotionally, that we’d do better to leave behind.

I learn a lot about myself from times like this.  What those things are this time?  I’m not sure yet, but I’ll let you know when I find out.

How is your transition season going?

Advertisements

17 thoughts on “Transition Time

  1. You have read my mind and soul Dani! I feel the exact same way during transition time. Excited and thriving in transition and change but wondering and a bit scared of the first few days, encounters, and the fact that I have two little men I’m responsible for.
    For now, I can just say, good trip, happy packing! I pray God gives you peace, wisdom and patience for those first few weeks!

    • Thank you so much for your prayers Ana! Hope you guys are still having a good summer! R&R is coming up in a few months for you guys right?

      • We leave next week!!! yay! hahah Many of my friends are coming back from their R&R and we are leaving.. School starts early in August. Have a great time visiting family!

  2. Good luck! When exactly are you “packing out”? We STILL do not know! But it will probably be in the next 4-6 weeks (I’m told). All the uncertainty is exciting and scary all at once!

    • Oh boy, you still don’t know, that is so tough!!! We pack-out on the 6th, leave on the 15th I believe. It’s still over a month away but we’ve got 10 days worth of family visiting and I know the time will fly. How is Spanish going??

  3. I am in a similar funk but on the other side. I am unpacking HHE. We have enough space in our house but not enough storage space and that poses a challenge I am in the middle of figuring out. It’s frustrating. My donation pile is growing, which is fine and I anticipated it but that doesn’t seem to be helping. In any case, best of luck going from the funk to the euphoria. I will be only a few doors down the street and you are more welcome to come by or camp out at our place until you get situated. BTW, I went by your place yesterday and they are working on getting it ready for you. See you soon!

    • Oooh yes, the storage issues and the putting everything away! On one hand, HHE feels like Christmas…on the other hand it also feels like Christmas–so many things to find space for and put away! Yay for the update on our place, can’t wait to get there! 🙂 🙂

  4. I am so in love with your post! This is my favorite part, and oh boy do I wonder that myself sometimes:

    Will you be living on compound in Delhi? If so make every effort to get OFF COMPOUND daily and revisit “real India”. Sorry to say I have never had any kind of coffee in Delhi, back then I didn’t drink it and why would I with chai everywhere?

    Our transition is still very theoretical – we bid this summer. So we have the excitement and anxiety of begging to be able to go where we want, rather than the stress and excitement of figuring out our lives when we get there.

  5. I have no idea what I did there in the previous post. Let’s try again.
    I am so in love with your post! This is my favorite part, and oh boy do I wonder that myself sometimes: “I think, yet again, “why aren’t we just normal people living in Northern Virginia, satisfied with a yearly vacation to the Outer Banks?””

    Will you be living on compound in Delhi? If so make every effort to get OFF COMPOUND daily and revisit “real India”. Sorry to say I have never had any kind of coffee in Delhi, back then I didn’t drink it and why would I with chai everywhere?

    Our transition is still very theoretical – we bid this summer. So we have the excitement and anxiety of begging to be able to go where we want, rather than the stress and excitement of figuring out our lives when we get there.

    • Hi Lynne! We’re living on compound in Delhi. I was a bit hesitant about it at first but most people say that, with little tiny kids, it’s for the best. That being said, I think we’ll put a lot of effort into getting out as much as possible. I hear you on the chai, I’m looking so forward to chai and South Indian coffee I can practically taste it already! Can’t wait to hear where you guys end up next!!

  6. Ugh. I handled some things, personal friendship things, poorly before leaving DC this time. My husband tells me I’m being too hard on myself. Still. And you nailed it about that dreaded first day in-country. Hopefully the people I meet during those rough first days, weeks, hopefully not months will be the forgiving ones who have read your “life lessons” post on first impressions 🙂

    • I second your husband 🙂 It’s only natural for Type A-ers like us to assume we’ve royally screwed things up and then later come to find out no one even noticed. Can’t wait to read about all of your new adventures in Laos! I swear there should be something in Welcome Kits that says “what to do on your first day with no phone and no clue where to go” Something fun that has nothing to do with unpacking or onboarding!

    • WL I was so impressed how you made time to say goodbye to us. I was so nuts by that point that I feel like I dropped the ball in a million ways. You even let me give you a wet swimming pool hug 🙂 You are awesome. I hope Laos treats you guys well. i miss seeing you all around.

  7. I loved this post. Those last two weeks and the first two weeks always seem so crazy. I like your first day Welcome kit idea. We spent the whole day walking and exploring because we kept falling asleep every time we sat down. Honestly, I don’t remember most of it. But it kept us awake 😉 I can’t wait to hear about how things go for you guys. I have loved coming back to a place I lived before. Not in this city but still, same island. It was so nice to have some familiar stuff from the get go. Best of luck and safe travels! (Loved the Rosslyn post too by the way.)

    • Thanks Becky! It’s good to hear that you like being back in Taiwan, gives me hope that going back to India will be nice, not strange. Or perhaps maybe nice and strange. Well, as long as it’s nice and whatever else I’ll be happy. 🙂 Can’t wait to hear more about your adventures as well!

      • A little bit of strange and a whole lot of familiar. It’s been nice 🙂 Being here with a family and husband versus being here a young single person is definitely a change. Can’t wait to hear how it goes for you guys!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s