You know, our five-year stint living in Tanzania pretty much ruined us for integrating back into Canada. What do they call it? Repatriating. We stuck our toes in the water, but we never jumped in with the full force of a, “Hey, we’re baaa-aack! We missed you Canada!” We felt different, out of step, while everyone else had either moved on, or stayed resolutely the same. Our family and friends were extremely patient with us, and our relentless stories about the time in Tanzania when… [insert requisite creepy-crawly or reptile anecdote]
We somehow thought we were special, freshly anointed by this incredibly strange and wonderful experience. Hellooo, ego slap: people were only mildly interested in what we thought was our exotic life in Africa. It was just so out of the realm of normal for most folks that they didn’t even know what to think, let alone show an interest. After all, it’s hard work to think about Africa. So they politely said, “Wow, Africa! That must have been interesting.” Period.
We made an enormously fun trek across the US to move out west to see if that would do the trick, but it was only a temporary fix. Curating our lives was easier this time around, and eerily normal. The kids were already off living their own lives, so we had less of their stuff to pack away and foist off on above-mentioned, extremely patient and generous relatives. We rented a small, but brand new apartment so we couldn’t fit much in. And we proceeded to lustily enjoy all the mod cons: automatic dishwasher and washing machine (not the two-legged variety); fully stocked grocery stores; Greek yogurt; tap water!
We were watching our money so we didn’t spend a lot on furniture or a car. Weekend excursions to Ikea with the rest of the herd was the price to pay for cheap and cheerful. We had no financial reserves and had already gone into debt just coming back to Canada. I mean, right away we needed to buy shoes and office clothes and winter coats and a vehicle. We started over. Again. Our departure from Canada and the move to Tanzania five years before had been for good, or so we thought.
Fast forward to today and our boomerang ride back to Tanzania. (We’re boomers and we came back, boomerang, get it? Ha.) We love this kind of freedom, which, let’s be real, is a more socially acceptable way of saying we like being just this side of totally irresponsible. We haven’t moved back to Tanzania, and we aren’t moving to Cambodia. I suppose we’re still smarting a bit, so we haven’t committed to any one location. We’re travelling slowly.
We’re learning more about ourselves and what it is we truly want in a place to call home, for a while anyway. Sure we get cranky about the bugs and the long, bone-jarring drive to town, the reliance on UHT tetra packs of milk, and the extra work involved in just living day-to-day here. We get itchy to move on, and then we slip back into the slower rhythm of life as you live it on the sea, far away from a city. Not a day goes by that we don’t look at each other in wonder and say, “It is so cool that we’re here, doing this thing we’re doing. And we’re just visiting. Now that the rose-coloured glasses are off, we can clearly see the reality, the harsh challenges of life here. And the bright beauty of it too.
We just want to live our lives as unencumbered as possible, while we’re still healthy and able to do it. There’s no putting off the future: we all get old, we all die eventually and float off to that loving, sparkly place of light (we hope). Well, go ahead, call us selfish or immature. It won’t be the first time.