With 2013 having just finished its leg in the Relay Race of Time, and 2014 only starting its initial steps of anticipation to sprint with the coveted baton, I have decided to sit down and jot a few words. Last I wrote was in October and since then I have neglected to scribble on this digital note pad of mine. Part of that stems from lack of time, partly due to lack of enthusiasm, and a good chunk of my neglect was due to the writer’s boulder that rolled into my head. It turns out that thing is a bitch to move.
As the calendar flips, we are subconciously persuaded to look at ourselves as an app and make appropriate upgrades. With my self-check momentarily complete, the upgrades are lined up to be applied, the boulder is eroding, and a giddy feeling is seeping into my system. Then again, the giddiness could very well be residual traces of ‘juice for big people’ (as we call any kind of alcohol around our house) from Christmas festivities, but either way, I am moving forward. The new year promises to be heavily bitter-sweet. The bitterness stems from the fact that we are certain to be leaving Milano for good at some point within the next 365 days and in truth, this makes me just as sad as the fact that I will never see Bob Marley live. We knew we’d have to leave Milan one day but the idea was always so off in the distance that I worried about it like one worries if Chewbacca will ever speak english. All good things come to an end and ultimately our time in Milan is done, (as for Chewbacca, I don’t know because I’ve never really seen Star Wars and much prefer to obtain my sci-fi from factual documentaries like Space Balls). On the flip side, a new city awaits which means new adventures, new friends, new parents to meet, and new shops in which to peruse for purse-adoptions, new angles for photographs, and also new places to check-in at on Facebook, (I joke, I’m anti check-in because Facebook is creepily omnipotent and hence knows too much about me already).
Rewinding back to September this year, we learned then that to Milan we would have to bid farewell in January 2014 and welcome the sands and sweltering heat of Dubai as our new home. Nanoseconds after the news was delivered to me, I extrapolated the sands and beaches of Dubai to imply bikini waxes twelve months a year. Insert a Chewbacca cry here.
Colder weather and I go hand-in-hand like a figure skater wearing a scrunchie in her hair, so I was not particularly enthused by this news because Dubai temperatures hover in the high 40s/low 50s in the summer. I resisted and rejected this impending farewell and hence this sour mood engulfed my normal level of enthusiasm and brought on some blues, (if I have to be honest). We visited Dubai in November to scope out new digs and school, and though the trip was quite fun and entertaining (the architecture in Dubai is stupendous and we all kissed a dolphin, for example), I returned to Milan feeling that though it’s a great holiday destination, Dubai is still a place I don’t want to live. Matlock on the other hand, couldn’t wait to peruse the ribbons of asphalt that have been lain over the endless sand and given unpronounceable names such as Khalid Bin Al Waleed Road, or Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Road. Matlock and I could not have been more opposite about this move.
In December, as I literally prepped for the kids’ going away party at school which was due to start in one hour on a particular day, Matlock called me and told me plans had changed and we weren’t moving to Dubai anymore, but eventually, somewhere else. Inconceivable! Like a wax strip, Dubai got ripped away in a flash, but this time, I didn’t feel the pain. I should have cringed and stressed, but instead, I was content and calm. But because I am a woman and hence therefore frequently incapable of making up my mind, I also felt sad. On the one hand, I was joyous because in Milan we get to stay longer until all details for our alternative posting are sorted out. I now know exactly how Julie Andrews felt as she scampered and twirled around the green mountainous fields around Salzburg while singing to the heavens. But on the other hand, I had JUST finally reached the point where I accepted Dubai and felt excited to bedizen myself in all the fake gold I could buy (that’s a lie because I don’t like gold and prefer silver, but it is true that I had finally reached my happy place about moving to Dubai). I felt prepared and onboard for this adventure which made things so much easier for Matlock. I was keen to learn all about Dubai’s history and explore its old streets which was what intrigued me more. As an example, I was not aware Dubai was a sleepy fishing port before all the scaffolds, cranes, and sky scrapers penetrated the horizon. (True story. Click here to see some photos).
In our visit to Dubai in November, there was so much we didn’t see in that week because we knew we were coming back and had two years to wander the metropolis, so that’s a technicality against us. Lastly, I also felt quite deflated for Matlock who was quite eager to begin the challenging work in his new assignment. He was very excited for his career to caravan through the desert for a while and live in a city where his commute to work from home would take him all of ten minutes. But alas, it was not to be had and the going-away party for the kids was an odd experience because as it turned out suddenly, we weren’t leaving. Yet.
So, that’s the bitter part of 2014-no Dubai but we still have to leave behind our dust within Milan’s cobblestone streets. For now here we remain but ultimately, there will be a time this year where we embark on a one-way ticket out of this city. If you don’t like reading about emotional, sappy, lip-quivering, whiny, and hollow-feeling emotions, then I bid you good-bye now because the truth is, Milan has not just gotten under my skin and so I have to vent from within. I have loved every day in this marvellous city, despite the poop-piles to ditch in the streets and the fact that someone in this city is using my cell phone that they clearly mistook for their own when they removed it from my zipped-up coat pocket on the bus. I have loved struggling and embarrassing myself with the language. I have laughed through the countless attempts and trips we took to the police station to sort out our residency papers. I have relished in swapping strangers for friends from whom I have learned so much and have had far too much fun. (Ha! I actually took a second and stopped typing for a bit because I get quite blue when I think about walking through that swinging expat door and saying bye to friends here). It’s been a bonding experience for the four of us as a clan in a city where at the start we couldn’t communicate with anyone or anywhere. I feel enveloped by the parents of the school and the actual school community we belong to and am smitten in the way the kids love their school, their friends, and their teachers. The list and my kleenex use goes on and on.
But best of all, if I have to pick one thing, I love being corrected in italian by my six-year-old and the language-absorbing sponge she has for a brain. Before we arrived, Matlock and I were so worried about how the kids would adjust in a foreign country without knowing the language. I remember feeling a pang of sadness overcome me when we first moved here and Little Miss Stubborn tried to talk to some kids on the play ground, but they ignored her because they couldn’t communicate. Granted she was small (she just turned two when we arrived), but they were maybe a year older than her and she was upset that the kids wouldn’t talk to her. It set off alarm buzzers and sirens in my head-what have we done to our kids?! Will they play alone on the playground forever and ever?! Will they only have imaginary friends? They will grow socially awkward and it is our fault. Clearly I calmed down rather quickly and the panic button within wasn’t pressed for long. Shortly after our arrival and as she got more and more exposed to italian kids, Little Miss Stubborn became a talking-machine in italian. Today, her teacher tells me that she needs to be reminded to speak in english in school and at home she often corrects us when we try to speak italian together. They say kids exposed to another language at a young age do tremendously well and I believe it like Darth Vader believed in his empire. (Can you tell the kids are watching Star Wars beside me as I blog? FYI-here in Luigi-land, Darth Vader is known as Dart Fener.). The Albino Hulk is also showing his ability to comprehend italian is pretty good and more and more he tries to inject italian words into his daily vernacular, although his conjugations of verbs are still pretty comical. With polish, both kids fully understand what I am saying to them, but they have sorted that italian or english is easier to pronounce, so I am now bringing polish back up to light speed in our daily lives to enforce it more. Kids’ brains are so malleable at this age, that this is truly the time to introduce the foundations for other languages. In Dubai, they would have had to learn Arabic in school and both Matlock and I found that very exciting. Lastly, my fears of my kids not being able to make friends was something I now filed under ‘everything that moms compulsively worry about’ because at this going-away party I mention above, we had 44 kids to invite, but the venue told me I had to cut it down to around 30 kids for safety reasons. No need to stress.
We don’t know when we are leaving Milan yet and the GPS coordinates of our new city I have to officially withhold a weee bit longer (though many friends know already), but it’s been a treasure being abroad, with its ups and downs. If you are someone pondering going abroad for a period of time, I would recommend taking the plunge in a heart beat. Or in an imperial minute. (For you non-Star Wars nerds, the imperial minute is a measure of time used on the Galactic Empire as I am learning from the Star Wars version of wikipedia).
So, that’s us in a nutshell. The rest of the year was spent with family visits from my parents, a trip to London to visit friends, a visit from a friend in Australia for three weeks, Dubai as mentioned, prepping the house for the move (the bonus is, my house is already somewhat packed while we await further instructions), doing homework with Little Miss Stubborn who has now learned to read, watching the Albino Hulk master his letters and numbers and simultaneously build his many talents, such a playing soccer and farting on demand. We’ve been taking the kids to learn how to skate where I can also morph my childhood ice shuffle to a smooth glide, and spending time with friends and the kids’ friends. Heck, we even went to a hockey game which we hope to do again because we had a blast, as did the kids. (In case you’re wondering, Milan’s hockey team is RossoBlu and boasts three fellas who have maple-syrup coasting through their veins-O Canada, our home and native land, indeed).
To end my unfortunate and reoccurring bout of verbal diarrhea, in 2014, may patience, health, hugs, this website, and the force always be with you. May your bellies be full of food, wine, and laughter, and may complaints be few because generally speaking, we all have nothing to complain about. Thanks for following along with us and for those that have inquired about this next entry-you continue to make me feel warm and fuzzy with your interest. Over the next few weeks I plan on redesigning this blog by hiring an actual blog designer so that I can say ‘my blog layout is better than your blog layout!’ to fellow bloggers (just jokes, much respect!), but I do want to give my blog some more tender, love, and care. The title of this entry is from David Bowie and perfectly summarizes 2014 for us. May this also be the year I finally finish reading his biography.
P.S. I am officially changing Dave’s name on this blog from Matlock to Lumbergh, as in Bill Lumbergh from Office Space. The more I looked at my husband as he walked around the house holding his cup of coffee like it was an extended appendage, I began to realize he reminded me of this character. He views his phone, makes breakfast, talks to the kids, and checks his radar all with a cup of coffee in hand. It’s maddening.
P.P.S. I have embarked on a new challenge for myself. After following a friend’s website where she uploaded a photo-per-day for one year, I have decided to do the same and document my life and all our impending changes with one photo every 24 hours. The glitch is, I can only use my iPhone. Click above on 365 Photos to take a peek, and you can also see my friend’s blog of pictures here.
P.P.P.S. I wasn’t kidding when I said I have never really seen Star Wars. Even though the kids are watching it beside me, I am not paying attention and have just been told by the Albino Hulk that the guys in white (Imperial Storm Troopers), are bad. Who knew!? (Not I!) But, in my world, Star Wars is not alone. ‘Back to the Future’ sounds like a fun science experiment as I have never seen it either. I have an embarrassing list of movie titles I have yet to view and this year, I plan on tackling a few. If there is a classic movie you believe everyone should see, send me the title and I will most likely add it to the list. (Except Princess Bride and as mentioned already, Space Balls. These two movies are fantastical).