It’s ten years since we left the UK and we didn’t die and we’re still together but I think that if I’m really honest we need to give Mr T the credit for us still being together because I’d have dumped myself under a patio about six months into Switzerland. Part of me thinks that I’m not the same person that I was ten years ago and another part of me tells me to stop being so ridiculous; of course I’m not the same person that I was ten years ago because I’m ten years older and I never was going to be the same person wherever I lived. Not unless I was going to sit in a bubble and not develop, grow, learn or do anything other than smoke cigarettes and drink coffee. Now there’s a thought.
I think I’ve become a kinder and more thoughtful person during this time. I’ve also learnt that I love my husband in a way that I cannot begin to describe, I don’t even want to describe outside our unit of two. I’ve made friends that I would never have made had we not left the UK. I’d probably never have started a blog had our life not changed in the way that it had. My imaginary friends have become my real life friends, the friends that I factor into my annual schedule of visits or having as guests. I’m so grateful for having these people in my life, people who first knew me simply through the things that I wrote and not for how I looked, what I wore, where I lived or what I did. The internet is a great leveller. I’m also grateful for the ‘real life’ friends who have stuck with us and managed not to ask me what I do all day.
When we moved to Greece I decided to see that as my ‘gap’ time. I worked so damned hard in Switzerland even though I didn’t have a job that paid money. Looking back on that period I realise that for part of that time I was slightly mad and that was hard work but I did do so much that didn’t seem to have any payoff for me. And then we moved to Germany and I could speak German because I’d worked so hard at it in Switzerland. My move to Germany was joy because suddenly everything seemed so much easier and I made friends and people liked me. I regained my confidence and people liked me again. The chicken and the egg.
And the work carried on in Germany. Working for the Tafel and for the hospital, all as a volunteer. I felt needed and I had a purpose again and that’s what I need. It’s like love – it’s simple and easy when you have it but when it goes it’s much harder to get it back. But even being needed, wanted and speaking German it wasn’t quite enough. It was the recipe that had been passed along with one small ingredient left out and I could never work out what it was.
Greece: I knew that I wasn’t going to do much here. It was our choice to come here and I decided that I would float around for a few years before going back to the UK to make a home there again. Well I’ve done loads: learnt enough Greek to get myself out of trouble (or maybe into trouble); become an expat ‘Barbara’ with my hoof on every committee and society; volunteered enough to get myself known. I’ve also written a very bad novel which I may one day rewrite but for now will start another writing project because I’m not a completer-finisher.
I was going to do lots of links and thanks but because I’m not a completer-finisher I’ll leave it here.
ps – I’ve learnt how to play bridge so if three of you could do the same that would be pretty cool.