View from the ragged edge: an eternal summer of transition

View from the ragged edge

Son to stranger in taco shop: My monster bike is on a boat to Holland.

Son to stranger at baseball game: My monster bike is on a boat to Holland.

Son to stranger at park: My monster bike is on a boat to Holland.

Approximately 4.5 weeks into our summer in America, my three-year-old started repeating this phrase to strangers like a verbal talisman.Β He has been told that we are moving away from Hong Kong. He understands that we are visiting relatives in America for the summer. It has been explained to him that all of our things are on a boat going to Holland. He is trying his best to actually believe me.

My seven-year-old daughter is taking the transition in stride and understands the process like a seasoned pro.Β While she is the most pragmatic of the bunch, hints of the frayed nature of her sense of stability have started to appear. She is obsessed with the computer game Minecraft, a game where players create their own realities out of Lego-like virtual blocks. I have noticed that her Minecraft world-building has pivoted its emphasis away from the fanciful and toward the practical and stable. Five weeks ago she was building giant water towers that rained down clouds of squid. She is now building a solid and cozy Minecraft house with a named bed for each member of our real family. Like an early civilizer, she is building a giant statue oriented toward the rising of the sun to reassure herself that it is morning, that the sun keeps rising and that there is predictability in the world.

My sanity has also begun to unravel.Β I am cranky. I think about buying items that I know we’ll need in Holland, but that would be utterly impractical to bring on an airplane, like brooms, bicycles and cleaning products. I’ve found myself creating ridiculously, unworkable Venn diagrams comparing my summer in America to James Bond and Will Ferrell movies. See exhibit A:

Venn diagram _ expatlingo.com

Exhibit A of my loss of sanity: creating ill-conceived Venn diagrams as a means of self-reflection

In summation, we are a haggard threesome. We have a week and a half left in America before our weary souls fly to the Netherlands and jump into a new life yet again. Wish us luck. We might need it.

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31 responses to “View from the ragged edge: an eternal summer of transition

  1. Aw, life in limbo land… how uncomfortable πŸ™‚

    Love your son’s strategy. You should adopt it.

    Repeat to yourself three times every hour: THEY SELL BROOMS IN HOLLAND.

  2. You may have more in common with those movies than you think. I suspect your son is actually an international spy. He’s trying to make contact with his opposite number using the recognised code phrase “My monster bike is on a boat to Holland …..”

  3. Oh gosh. Best of luck and then some. I feel bad now for enjoying possibly the most splendid summer ever which I’d love never to end. I should feel bad anyway as I waved Johnny and the girls off to Alderney and stayed behind to do that renovating a farm house movie thing. Not quite in wine country…but there’s hope if global warming keeps up.

    • Never fear! I will make it through! I’m so glad you’re enjoying every moment of home renovation in England. It will be very hard for you to leave come summer’s end. (Good luck to you with HLY re-entry.)

  4. Ha ha! I love your son’s approach! I’m about to do the same but thankfully, it’s just me! I’m like ‘they have oven gloves in Germany, right?’ – and really, it’s not like I ever used them here πŸ™‚ Best of luck! In a few weeks, this will all be like a bad dream πŸ˜‰

    • After complaining in this post, I spent a rather relaxing and completely sane evening drinking mojitos and walking the beach at sunset! The universe knew I needed a small break.

  5. Jen you all will thrive in Holland! I only wish our expat life did not start and end with Zhuhai. Good luck!

    • We’ve twice bought a small leather two-seater. Once in Guangzhou and once in a suburb of London. I can’t remember the Swedish name, but it’s a 5 letter word that means “the only couch that will fit in that weird corner of your rental.”

  6. I understand the anxiety of uprooting and starting anew in a different place. I had had similar experience of making difficult trips while asking myself β€˜why the hell am I doing this?’ — But felt glad later that I did it. After all only a few lucky ones get the chance to experience the world and making a living while doing it. Your kids may need time to adjust but young children are usually good at adapting. I’m sure they’ll be appreciative later in life for the unique experiences.

    Good luck with the move.

    • Thanks for your words if encouragement! No matter the place, I seem to always feel settled and happy after 4-5 months. I’ve just got to jump in and be patient. (Sometimes the anticipation is the hardest part…)

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