Wednesday, January 27, 2010
The Honeymoon's Over
Here are some tips from someone who has quasi-survived this difficult transition period and is starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel. I understand that once I am clear of this horrible stage I will be considered “acclimated” to my new culture and everything will be all lollipops and giggles until it time to return home. Then, apparently, everything happens in reverse, but that is many years in the future so I’m just not going to think about it. Baby steps, baby steps.
1st Tip: (Please note, I am going to be brutally honest here with these tips. Yes, Virginia, it really is THIS bad).
Remember, your spouse is not experiencing this transition phase the same way you are. He or she is happily going off to work and having lovely, English conversations all day with other adults. Monday through Friday, your spouse is feeling the culture clash to a much, much lesser degree than you are. And then, when the weekend comes, he or she will be ready to go exploring your fabulous new country and will totally rely on you to have the itinerary already planned out, (well, honey, really, what else do you have to do ALL WEEK?). They will look to you to speak to the natives, (because you do this ALL WEEK, sweetie, and your French is so much better than mine), and show them the way on the public transport system, (because you do this ALL WEEK, snookums, and you know I’m used to just driving the car). If you dwell on this one simple fact too much, you will drive yourself crazy with jealousy. Concentrate on finding one little thing in YOUR day that YOU accomplished without mishap and take some small pleasure from it. Spouse is in Amsterdam on business living the dream, probably smoking pot and hiring hookers and ordering from room service all at same time? Get over it. YOU managed to get it into your head that 1 kilo of ground beef is the same as 9 McDonald’s Quarter Pounders so all you need to order from the butcher is 200 or 300 grams of meat to make supper. See? Wasn’t that fulfilling? Look at you go, you smart, little cookie!
Can’t find the right ingredients for your recipes? Get over it. Try something else that looks close and keep experimenting until it comes out edible. Let’s face it. The odds of you finding Kraft sliced singles outside North America are slim to none. In Europe, there are a million other good cheeses. Yes, they are different and it is going to make your burger or your fajitas taste different, but that’s OK. No running lawnmowers or power tools on Sunday, the day of quiet? Go skiing. Go hiking. Go biking. Enjoy this time in your life where you don’t have to cut the grass on Sunday! Not only do you not have to cut the grass, it is AGAINST THE LAW to cut the grass! Free pass from all Do-It-Yourself projects every single Sunday. What’s not to love about that?
“Look, Trailing Spouse, just look at the price of this pizza. 50 francs!”
Yes, I see that, Mr. Big, but it is, after all, a family-size pizza, and what are you going to do, just starve yourself? And, yes, honey, I am aware that eggs are 85 cents each but it is really hard to make an omelette without at least a few of them. Perhaps we should just dress in flour sacks and live off bread and water?
On second thought, it might be better off for you, fellow Trailing Spouse, if your significant other NEVER gets over this astonishment at price discrepancies. Because when you travel anywhere else, he/she will think everything is incredibly cheap and you can shop with abandon with no guilt and no hiding of receipts. Even Paris and London are cheap compared to Zurich and Geneva. Hmmmmm. Remind me again why I am encouraging Mr. Big to overcome this bad habit?
Next time, Tips Three and Four. . . Forcing Yourself to Leave the House and How to Make Friends