Well, friends, it is that time in The AmerArab Life: we are preparing for another transition. Given the past few years of our lives, you might assume that we have developed the necessary emotional, relational and logistical skills to manage this process relatively smoothly. After all, in the past five years we have:
- Gotten married;
- Changed jobs;
- Lived in five different countries (two of them more than once);
- Lived in three different states within the U.S.A.;
- Lived in 11 houses or apartments for at least two months each (the longest period in any one house being eight months), a one-star Arab hotel for three months, and had eight periods of one month or less stays with friends, family or in temporary housing;
- Actively studied four dialects of Arabic;
- Decided to start having children, and are now pregnant.
So, it is time to move again, probably at the end of next week (assuming our visas come through as promised). However, instead of being the efficient list-making, people-visiting, introspective journal writer that I was at the beginning of this past period of life, I am now a procrastinating, uncaring, celebrity gossip googling zombie. Do I feel guilty about this? Definitely. I spent years teaching college students how to “finish well” in their cross-cultural experiences: push through the fatigue, fight the urge to withdraw, plan events to honor the people you have met. In the past, I have spent the final days before moving making sure to get pictures taken with all my most important friends, distributing gifts and any possessions I planned to leave behind, visiting my favorite places in the city.
None of this knowledge or past experience is helping me gain any motivation at this point. I am so tired of moving, starting over, settling down, and saying goodbye, and it has gotten more and more difficult each time. Honestly, apart from the fact that we chose an apartment and furnished it, there is nothing that makes me feel as though Hillside is my home, which seems like it should make leaving easier—but it’s not. We came in knowing it was temporary, and have lived that way for the past five months. We spent six weeks away traveling, never formally studied Arabic, lived without routines or schedules or friends. The only person I have any sort of relationship with is the landlady, and I don’t even know her name; I just call her the respectful word for “old woman.” I was supposed to go talk to her today, tell her that we are moving, ask if she wants to buy any of our furniture. Instead I crawled into bed, felt frustrated by my poor attitude, and decided to wait until sometime when Hungry Husband could go with me.
And to top it all off, the gas tank that fuels the stove started sputtering a few days ago, a sure sign that it is low and will be empty soon. I have been nursing it since then, praying that it does not run out before we leave, because I don’t want to pay the $15 to replace it for a week’s use. Fortunately, it doesn’t take much time on the stove to make ramen noodles…
The point is, I am 31 years old. In six months we are going to have a baby. My brain’s capacity for learning foreign languages is diminishing rapidly, and my introverted, intimate relationship-oriented personality is spent from years of forming friendships that come to an end before I am able to communicate any of my deep thoughts. I don’t feel like I have much left in me to keep living this lifestyle. Please pray that this will be our last move for a long time!