Posts in Category: Expat

Revisiting Re-Entry

It’s snowing here. Ever so lightly, but snowing. The sun’s trying to peek through, but the clouds are winning. I’m watching the fat flakes fall as I eat lentil soup, bought at the deli over on Nostrand. I will miss being able to walk a couple of blocks to the deli. And the grocery, the bagel place, the bank, the health food shop, the nail salon, the hipster coffee shop.

Next week, I’m going back to the Land of Enchantment, where it’s sunny 280+ days per year and you have to drive everywhere. I might call it a trade-off…if I were a sun-lover.

The Best Problem in the World

I have the best problem in the world. What’s good about it? I have many, many friends.

So what’s the problem? They’re scattered to the four winds.

Last week, I read an article about how difficult it is to say goodbye to friends. The article was referring to the life of an expat who was preparing for a move to a new location. The author was concerned about “losing friends” in the move.

Customs and Choices

unnamed-20The other night, I went to a new wine tasting group for the first time. When I arrived, there were two women sitting at a long table.

I sat down next to the younger one, and she immediately stuck out her hand in greeting.

A long time ago, back in my youth, someone, somewhere, maybe the home economics teacher, taught a class in social etiquette. There were many rules of behavior. Some of them had to do with dating manners, such as men walk nearer the curb when escorting a woman down the street. Sounds quaint now, but originally, it was meant to protect her from the street muck in the horse and buggy days.

The Happiness Factor

mural-braids“¿Estás contenta aquí?” My Chilean friend asked me. “Are you happy here?”

I responded “Yes,” but then I started to think about why she didn’t ask me if I were “feliz.” Happy. What’s the difference?

The word “happy” is frequently thrown around among English speakers, but we generally don’t ask people if they’re “content.” Compared with being “happy,” which is defined as feeling delighted, pleased, or joyful, “content” feels less-than, like meh, pablum.

In Chile, someone loaned me a copy of Gretchen Rubin’s book, The Happiness Project. Gretchen was a New Yorker who wanted to change her life. She wasn’t a scientist or psychologist, just a wife and mom looking for more happiness out of daily life.

Tiki, Tiki, Ti

unnamed-8Today is the celebration of Fiestas Patrias in my adopted country, Chile. I found this article by blogger, Yeni Oyanedel, which explains why and how Chileans celebrate the holiday, Why Chile Shuts Down on 18 September.

I’m missing out on some of my favorite things, choripanes, asados, Pisco Sours, luscious Chilean red wine, and my beloved Chilean friends.

Here in New Mexico, it’s State Fair time. I didn’t make it there this year, but I’ve heard the announcement of the winners of the Best Green Chile Cheeseburger competition.

Francie Turns 21

1186293_10151825065253563_445646438_nThis week, my “Chilean daughter” turned 21.

It seems like only yesterday that I walked into her 8th grade classroom for the first time, but that was back in 2009. Francisca would have been 14 then. A quiet teenager, she came to the front of the classroom when I played Buddy Holly’s “That’ll Be the Day.”

I wrote about it in A Million Sticky Kisses:

5 Reasons Expat Friendships Are Easier

unnamed-15Tomorrow, I will have been back in Albuquerque for four weeks. Seems like yesterday. Seems like a hundred years.

I want to write, but darned if I know what to write about. Do you want to hear about my comparison of bread and cookies? Would you rather hear about how everywhere I turn here something reminds me of Phillip? Can I whine about how miserably hot it is? If I did, would you sympathize with me or tell me to suck it up? ¡Aguanta no mas!

Dare I mention the crazy political climate that makes my stomach churn and leaves me feeling choice-less, voiceless, hopeless, and helpless?

Where I’m Planted

unnamedLast night, I dreamed about my son, Phillip. If you’re new to my blog, I should tell you that my son passed away on May 4. In the past, I’d often dreamed about him as a young boy.

I am a vivid dreamer. My dreams, always in color, tend to be wild and crazy. Sometimes, they star strangers. Usually, they’re centered around people I know. I’ve been dreaming about Phillip a lot since returning to the US three weeks ago.

In this dream, Phillip was an adult. He was helping me garden. With the best of intentions, he dug up most of my plants. There was one in particular that I felt sad about losing. It was a hearty plant, a succulent. He had chopped off the flowering top and left the roots planted in the ground.

Have I Mentioned…

SandiasBack in the US for precisely two weeks now, the one question everyone asks me is “How long are you here for?”

Some people seem to expect a concrete answer to that question, but they don’t know me very well. What I’d originally planned as a visit to the US has now turned into a full repatriation. But it feels temporary.

Those who know me best are not surprised by the real answer, which is “I don’t know.” I can’t imagine not going back overseas.

Even Longer

BearWhen I was a little girl, I used to visit my grandma. We had a special relationship and I wanted to stay there with her forever and ever, where I felt comfortable, safe, and loved up.

After a visit, when my parents came to pick me up, she would stand on her front porch and wave goodbye until our car passed over the last rise and out of sight. I always had the feeling that she stayed there, for a minute or two afterward, with her hand raised in a wave just to make sure that I, teary-eyed, with my nose pressed against the back window of the car, could no longer see her.