It’s been around eight months now or two hundred and twenty eight days, if you wish to be exact. I have found myself recently reflecting, struggling and of course… growing. My pen though has been paralysed in my hand refusing to tell my stories and I couldn’t pinpoint what the antecedent was. I have a whole backlog of stories, as I believe everyone does. However, the words they weren’t flowing from my fingertips the way I wanted them to. Those close to me would hear my ever growing frustration with this. Recently though as I was pondering about the world, it all clicked. These beautiful tales while they are true, they omit the mess, the chaos and mishaps that happen all the time.
Life is not always easy, it isn’t all strolling through the alley ways of Rome, or just about getting lost within the winding streets of Prague. When one looks at instagram or facebook, it seems that is all I do. But that is a large misrepresentation. I have been painting my life using colourful and cheerful hues, ignoring the darker shades. This isn’t on purpose, we tend to want to share the happy things, the moments that will make a smile creep across your face. But there are days that the sun doesn’t break through the clouds and I fall flat on my face. Where I really miss some things about California and the ease of life in the States. For instance, I really miss everything bagels (weird) and I still have difficulty with the fact that Europeans love having the switches outside of bathrooms. Don’t think for one second that I haven’t been mid-session when someone “accidentally” turns off the lights and I am left abandoned in a dark room.
I struggle at times with the language barrier and find myself wishing everyone to “Miłego dynia” which means “Have a good pumpkin!” instead of wishing them a good day. While learning new phrases is fun and everyone laughs and it remains okay to mess up but when one buys kieffer instead of milk, the fun stops. It ruined my cereal forever and I am still mad at it. (I also have noticed I have a tendency to get frustrated with inanimate objects, it’s fine, it’s healthy, it’s cool). Going to the post office still can fill me with so many nerves that my tongue becomes tied and my hands begin to shake. Having to give yourself a pep talk in the grocery store can be demoralising and can make your head spin and heart feel like it is in your throat. You’re not sad, it just so frustrating…It’s complicated. It takes four stores to find a damn lightbulb, picture frame sizes are all messed up, and carrying a broom half a mile seems to worry people. Throughout the months though, I have learned. I have had some really interesting eating experiences at home and in restaurants (please reference the “chow mien” that was really just spaghetti noodles in terrible Thai sauce) but it’s okay, it is learning and I am adapting.
Teaching at an international school you also find that people have a lot of disposable income, especially if they have been at this for awhile. People are constantly flying in and out of the country seeing places that can make my skin turn green in an instant. It is impossible to compete, at least for me. I have learned a lot about finances this year, not always the easy way. A pound by the way, is way more expensive then the dollar. That flight you got for 20$, yeah you have to walk half a mile in freezing weather in order to board the plane that looks like a death trap. Eating at the school cafeteria on credit is terribly dangerous and can bite you in the ass. But, real talk here, it can get stressful to keep up with the pressure or the idea that you must constantly be going somewhere, seeing something, ensuring that we are taking advantage of this privilege that we have been granted. Pulling the reigns on that, saying no to waterfalls, sun and the Mediterranean Sea is not freaking easy but it also doesn’t rob you of experiences, it just makes room for different ones. This was an important lesson.
When I moved here I knew that relationships at home would become more trying but I also thought I would make fast friends with the people in my cohort. I imagined that we would have Friendsgiving together, take public transit to go drink wine and paint the town red. In reality, I have struggled to make close friendships. I have been brought back to high school where I was a wanderer between social groups not knowing where I fit in. Weaving in and out of crowds watching words attempt to set fire to my skin. But, this time I am aware that I will only exist within a certain capacity to each person that I encounter. I cannot control how someone connects with me. To the majority people, I will be nothing but an anecdote, an echo of a memory that disappears as swiftly as a second glance. And that is okay. Don’t get me wrong, the relationships I have maintained here have a unique, seemingly unbreakable bond. But, until this day, I was unwilling to accept that these bonds are rare and precious, and I would wish I could have more. There is a certain connection between people who witness unharnessed happiness due to snow falling from the sky, excitement at winter boots and scarves or the enthusiasm of finally finding the vegetable stand and Italian store. Marveling at storm clouds together, and eating hot peppers **crying** and then repeating, picking each other up after middle schoolers beat us down, it all creates a connection that is nothing short of gorgeous. But, that still doesn’t mean I don’t get lonely from time to time.
The never ending raw beauty of discovery is astonishing and I work hard every damn day to see it. Because if there is one thing I have learned in the world it is that it takes just as much effort to be happy as it does to be miserable, and the power of choosing lies within your own mind. Everything is in flux. Always. Your past does not have to determine your future. And just because all aspects of life have been hard for sometime that doesn’t mean that it will always remain that way. The sun will rise, the rain will settle and the skies will clear. Your life will not be the same a year from now, six months from now, and everything will eventually be okay. So even though it may be challenging, quirky and uncomfortable right now at the bottom of my heart I know I am exactly where I need to be. Being vulnerable is scary, it’s a new thing for me but I hope by my being honest and sharing some of my experiences it can help you recognise the love and the light that exists within each and every one of you.