Monday, December 2, 2013

Arrivals and Departures

Whenever we get to a new place I call to mind a chart that floats around the web describing the typical cycle of an expat in their initial months in a foreign land. The chart marks the first days and weeks as typical highs upon landing in a new place “The honeymoon phase” and the following weeks with lows as the newness wears away and finally fades to acceptance.

I see the chart, sure, and then I wad it up and throw it away like I do to just about anything else considered “typical.”

I never really liked charts much anyway.

I proudly walk a tightrope over typical, straight to a place somewhere on the other side of that.

I didn’t experience typical in Brazil and I don’t really feel it here.

I felt scared and bewildered in Brazil. Eventually, though as you know I just fell in love. The culture and people, the food and the climate all swept me slowly but surely off my feet, and set me down in a place that brought the greatest balance to our lives and to our family. I hoped the same thing would happen here in India and although it’s too early to tell, the signs point in the same general direction-only with strangely different characters. This time I feel like I am simply moving in to a space carved out for me and without the fear and isolation despite the fact that I know not a soul.

The most overwhelming feeling I have upon our arrival here in India, however is a sense of purpose and clarity.

I spent this year battling the stress of the unknown. I think I have finally realized, that the unknown is the worst part about this lifestyle. I fought the good fight, though and I finally know who I am and why I am here. I put in a lot of hours at home, personally and professionally to assure I'd be ready for this, but I am also sure I didn't get to this place alone. I think, I’ve finally found my purpose in this calling to meander the world and in addition to standing beside Paul as I've promised to always do, to bring up three smart, worldly, open minded and caring humans, I have a gift that I feel obligated to use up in it’s entirety, lest I stand at the gates of heaven (or wherever I may end up) with even a drop left unused.

I’ve accepted that the assignment won’t always be the same, but that the teacher always will be. There will be many pop-quizzes and the words, fragments of sentences and paragraphs that I will create that may not make a bit of sense, but will all form one beautiful story in the end.  

I’ve learned to ride the waves.

I’m learning how to achieve balance.

I’ve accepted that my business will shape-shift with each move, but instead of fighting the current I’m letting it sweep me away. 

Someone asked me the other night what I was shooting. I confidently responded that I hadn’t arrived there quite yet, that just one week into my latest mission, I haven’t made any decisions, but as I've made my way out into this new place with my camera, I've found myself looking for the very same things I always do, the beauty and the humor in everything.

It is as hard to find here as it is anywhere in the world, unless you are patient and wait for it.

People keep telling me how challenging it is to live here, but I think it is challenging just to live. Each place has its strengths and weaknesses, but I vow to find the good in each day and in each place.

I’ve fired off my first few rolls of film. I joined a photo-walk with a bunch of local photographers the other night and with a new confidence in my craft and in myself I took to the streets of Chennai.

I’ve already found the beauty and I only fret about how I’ll document it all in just two years.

I’ve lost all the doubt that I harbored in DC that this was the right path for us, I can’t imagine having stayed behind like I threatened publicly to do in the security check point at Dulles' international terminal in our final moments in the USA. And like Paul implied yesterday, I feel like instead, I was always meant to arrive right here.


st said...

I love your writing and have enjoyed reading about your experiences. I am going to be a new FSO joining the Jan A-100(!) and I hope that I am able to see each post just as you have described here.
Best, Sarah

Lucy Jordan said...

You're both such great writers! What an adventure for you and the little ones. It all sounds so exciting, and I know exactly what you mean - I feel at home in Brazil, in a way that I did in Cambodia, that is so familiar and so different all at once. Love to you all, looking forward to the next blog post. Lucy