Thursday, September 18, 2014

Doing it Right

It's been a rough few days, if I'm being honest.

There are days when you walk around your new post just absolutely kicking ass: finding the stores, making the friends, doing it all right.

But if ever you have one of those days, be forewarned: it's usually followed by a few grim ones, when you just can't catch a break.

First one kid got sick, then another. Then I got sick, too. Kids home from school = no routine. No grocery shopping. No going to the gym. No meeting your writing goals. No leaving the house and having big adventures. Just you, sitting alone in the house, listening to coughing kids and wondering how long it takes to figure it all out. And if you're sick, too? Well, the dog still has to be walked. The dinners made. The laundry washed. All the mundane stuff piles up and threatens to swamp you and that lump in your throat either means you're feeling really sad or you've got walking pneumonia, neither of which is an option you care to dwell on much.

Everyone goes through this, you know, whether healthy or sick. In Beijing, we used to call it the "Ten Day Freakout," because it hit everyone right around the 10 day mark. You could see it on the faces of the newcomers, and you just knew what they were going through. They didn't know it was normal. But we did. If we liked them, we pulled them aside, clued them in, helped them past it, told them our own Ten Day stories. (My brand new neighbors Candace and Tracy got me through my Ten Day Freakout in Beijing, and though we've long since lost touch, I'm still grateful to them for that.)

Here, I'm the new person. It's been a month, so it isn't quite the ten day freakout, but still. Sometimes, you can't help looking around and thinking everyone else is doing it right, whatever "it" is. You think you're the only one still wandering aimlessly through your days, searching for both your future friends, that tribe of people who is going to carry you through the next few years, and a jar or two of creamy peanut butter, the kind without added high fructose corn syrup. After all, is that too much to ask of a post - friends and a decent sandwich?

I'm a creature of habit, but I've lost all of my habits. I prefer to be busy, too busy to think, too busy to stop. I get up and drop straight into my routines, moving from kitchen to work to gym to store to kitchen to bed. I like to lament my lack of time. I like to be too busy, with too many things to do, things that I know how to do.

It's safe to say I'm not there yet. Oh, I'm busy. Just trying to track down working transformers and decent lettuce gives me plenty to do. Add in a job search and an attempt to organize the house, and I have more than enough to fill my days. But I have no routine yet, and it's the routine that makes me feel like I belong in a place. Friends are nice. A paycheck is lovely. But the routine - the knowing every day what you're supposed to be doing, and how - that's what I really need to find.

Hopefully next week I'll have four kids back in school and a husband back in country and all of the pieces will start falling in place.

Meanwhile, it helps to remember that behind all of those other doors live other people with their own small dramas. Nobody's doing it right, after all. Not here; not anywhere.


Deborah said... [Reply]

I've learned i am happier when I don't compare my insides to other people's outsides. Bnt i do it anyway!

Hannelene said... [Reply]

I thought the 10 day freak out hits every ten days. No, not normal? That being sick part is so awful right? I don't even remember anything from May, June, or July. Except asking the hubby to bring home more boxes of tissues and honey because the kids and I were sick constantly. It does get better. Eventually you have a rare sunny afternoon here and there, and you can breath for 2-3 days in a row. Such luxury.

Please. Write your own stuff.