10.31.2012

happy halloween!


 


Here's the catch about living in a foreign country: You never know which of your cultural holidays will be a "thing". Planning for holidays appears to be a constant guessing game of, "Can we get a pumpkin here?" and "Where do you suppose I could locate a faux tree...".

Halloween, I've gathered, isn't a big thing in Kuwait. I spotted a few pumpkins for sale at Dean and DeLuca, the grocery stores had a few more gourds than usual, and Pottery Barn has the autumnal vibe in full swing. But other than that, I didn't notice much while out and about. (Correct me if I'm wrong, fellow expats!)

But then, you never know. In Kuwait, it's common for some apartment buildings to accept "western only" tenants...in which case I imagine you might be visited by a knocking ghost or goblin. But our building isn't western exclusive...it's a mix of westerners and Arabs. Will kiddos come trick-or-treating? Not sure.

A chatty American family moved in on our floor a month ago...they have three young girls, and I thought it might be sweet to make something just for their munchkins.

So, I whipped up a few treat bags using 5"x7" glassine bags, washi tape and a yard of black lace I'll never use. I figured out how to print on glassine with an ink jet...but not before I smudged half a dozen bags, jammed my printer and cursed a bit. The trick: To avoid jams, insert a light cardstock into each bag as it prints. To avoid smudges, let them dry for several hours. Or, carefully lay a towel over a freshly-printed bag and iron over the towel a few times. It wrinkles the bag a bit, but not any more than it will wrinkle when you put goodies inside.

Tonight I've got a date with Gabe...a bowl of caramel corn, some Oreos and It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown. We'll see who comes knocking. :)

Hope your Halloween is a blast! :)
 

10.30.2012

bye-bye, house.


(house portrait by Rebekka Seale)

Well before Gabe and I knew of each other's existence...he bought a house. A big, big house in the suburbs of Sacramento with all the bells and whistles a mini-van-driving woman could want. He said he was far from meeting someone of "wife" material...but wanted a family. Being in his early thirties, having a big house for a someday-wife and someday-kids felt as close as he could get to being a family man.

Which is all really quite sweet. But then he met me. I was a mid-twenties free spirit who was iffy on kids--possibly at thirty, I told him--and not a suburbs girl in the least. On our way to the altar, we had countless conversations about the house: Gabe liked the size, the newness, the good neighborhood. I wanted something smaller, older, with more character...and closer to the city.

Gabe doesn't ask for much in life. So, in time I laid aside my arguments and decided I could make it work. Although I still wasn't sold on Sacramento, it was a really nice house! With some effort, I could make the suburban home feel like the old, character-filled home of which I'd dreamed.

On our wedding day, I gifted Gabe a painted portrait of the house, and a note:

Gabe,
 
"Where you go, I will go. Where you stay, I will stay." 
Essentially, and less poetically...I surrender. Let's call this place home.
 
Love, Your (soon-to-be) Wife


But the past ten months have made clear what we want in life...and it isn't a 3,000 square foot house in Sacramento. We painfully calculated the number of dollars spent in mortgage payments for a place neither of us were crazy about...in a city that holds neither family, friends or oodles of job opportunities.

And so, today our house went on the market.

I don't know why I suddenly feel sad to say goodbye to this massive house in the suburbs of a city I have no desire to live in. Maybe it's because Gabe and I talked about someday-kids and home renovations and parties in the backyard...and it feels like a step backwards. Maybe it's because I woke up there on my wedding day, with my best girlfriend next to me...giggling and whispering like we were high schoolers.

Or maybe it's because a professional mover packed up the few boxes of precious things I'd left behind...my bridal bouquet, the oodles of gold mason jars from our wedding and the furniture we purchased together...and he likely threw the frost-bitten top tier of our wedding cake in the trash.

Which is the real tragedy here, because that cake would still be delicious, in any state of frostbite. ;)

Perhaps it's just nostalgia for all those little memories that feel like forever ago due to miles and miles of distance. Whatever the reason, a large piece of me is happy about this. It means money in savings. It means someday buying a new house we're crazy about, in a city and neighborhood we love.

It means one more gigantic hurdle we've jumped in our first year of marriage.

And whew, what a first year it's been. :)

10.22.2012

i blinked...


...and just like that my time in the United States was up.

Three and a half weeks have never flown so fast, or been packed with so many memories, laughs and needed moments. It's unbelievable just how many birthdays and events (and truth: bottles of wine) I packed into just three weeks. It was a whirlwind in the best kind of way....even if it did involve 90+ hours in airports, airplanes and long car drives. Every time I thought about reaching for my iPad to blog, my heart just said, "No. No, no, no. This is all going by too fast. Put that away." So even if I was just bouncing my best friend's baby on my knee or taking a snuggly nap with my family's new kitten...I forced myself to be there.

The biggest takeaway from my trip was the reiteration from those I love that my feelings about living in Kuwait are valid. It is human to be uncomfortable in circumstances that put you far outside your norm. No one is expecting an obnoxiously fake, Pollyanna-esque approach to something that feels like a test or trial. It is okay to feel out of place, or to know yourself well enough to say that something just isn't for you.

But most of us have two gifts: the gift of time and the gift of home. Minutes to use, and a place we belong, no matter what. What you choose to do with those days, and within your four walls is up to you...but don't let months slip away unused and don't make "home" a place you dislike.

In other words...just because your feelings are valid, doesn't make all your reactions to those feelings wise. You can make the best...or you can make the worst of every situation.

Sometimes, in this new time and space...I've made the worst. These haven't been my finest four months...that is for sure. For example, there are still lingering boxes that need unpacking or frames that need hanging because I think, "What does it matter? I still won't feel like I belong here." Or moments in which I commiserate and make sarcastic comments to Gabe, without realizing that I've unintentionally sent the message that I'm deeply unhappy or that the life he provides is inadequate.

And so, the first real thing I chose to do upon returning was seriously check my sarcasm at the door. You know, check yourself before you wreck yourself...or whatever the kids say. Unfortunately there's no way I can show you a pastel, overexposed picture of me keeping my big mouth shut in an effort to be a better wife and person. But after conquering a little jetlag, I unpacked some boxes and finally decorated my kitchen with a few things from my old life, and a few things my family bought for me back home. Just making an effort to try to feel at home...to make the best of the days.

I did manage to take a picture of that. :)

Welcome home, me. ;)

 

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