HomelyExpat

 

HomelyExpat

homes where the couch is
homes where the couch is
by Andy Mayer

 

I had a great chat with a  gorgeous friend from Australia today. We talked about her maternity leave, how her  first born son was growing (and I had never met him), future job prospects, Australian housing prices, the economy, internet dead spots in the house and then she asked me the inevitable question, “When are you coming home?”

This is a big conundrum in our life. I don’t think we are alone in the   feelings  planning a  trip “home” bring up in us.
Let me start with the word home. Our home is Dubai right now. It’s where we live  transiently-permanently, where the boys go to school, where we pay rent and where we have a car registered to our address. Mostly home to us is the place our old couch is. It’s a brown  couch that cost us a lot 13 years ago and has come with us on each move so that wherever it is becomes our home.

 

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We do not own a property in Australia. We have family in Melbourne, we have family in South Australia ,we have friends that are scattered across NSW, Victoria, Western Australia,Northern Territory and South Australia and we have friends we have met as expats scattered all over the world. Each friendship is unique and marks a certain time and place in our lives.

This is where the difficulty in answering the question starts.images

“When are you coming home?”
My husband and I bring up the subject of going back probably once a month these days. It is friendly debate where we talk about what we miss of “home” who we want to see, what we want to eat and drink and where we want to holiday. It always ends up going around in circles and coming back to rest on the discomfort of choices. Everything goes silent and we walk off in our thoughts to a more comfortable spot. It all gets too hard.

It has been 3.5 years since either my husband or myself have stepped foot on Aussie shores. That alone gets raised eyebrows a lot! So when are we  coming home?

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Semantics aside because our Home is here. It depends you see. Spring break just finished and we spent that time in Iran because it was affordable, close and an adventure we wanted to undertake. Summer finds my husband working here and low on holidays so we are sending our children back to spend time with grandparents. Fall break will be a short holiday and is not long enough to fly to Australia.  We have been discussing spending New Years Eve in South Africa meeting up with a group of friends we made in Mongolia. They are fantastic people and each has already made the trip to Dubai to visit us.

We spent Christmas last year in Georgia hanging out as a family wandering the streets of Tblisi having fun and making yet again more new friends who have invited us to the Uk to hang out this year.. The previous 2 years we spent Xmas in Hong Kong with some old mates from Melbourne and it was a blast. A month over summer was spent in Thailand with a family from Qatar, Xmas next year looks like it will be in Singapore with our good Aussie mates,  Spring break might be diving in Jordan  and in between there will be a trip for my husband to see a mate in Kiev and a trip for me to see a mate in Russia and maybe another in Indonesia.

There is guilt hanging heavily l around our necks. I need to rub my neck often and the discomfort  rivals  the memory of a sore neck from sleeping in a shitty spare bed in a  friends guest bedroom.

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Facebook  is  a poor indictor of  friendships “I know you have lots of  fun with  your new friends but why don’t you  fly home to your old ones?” my friend asks me. I can’t answer her without insulting her.

Expats fly to meet one another to hang on to the friendships that were so important and marked a special time in life.  They make the catch up a holiday.Expats often have more disposable income to holiday and more annual leave but there lies the conundrum. Why haven’t we been home?

We can do this. Over and over again
We can do this. Over and over again

I want to scream the 14 hour flight is a killer, the week of jet lag sucks , sleeping a few nights in different spare rooms and literally thousands of dollars spent on short term accommodation, car hire, fuel, gifts for those having us stay on their blowup mattress saving us a night in a hotel, dinners, trips to Dan Murphy Bottle shop for champagne, ! I dread spending 8 hours driving to my husbands family home only to get in the car the next day to drive another few hours visiting relatives.

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I dread driving back and forth from Melbourne to my parents home always rushing, never relaxed, to curse the price of fuel, yell at the crazy drivers and   balk at the urban sprawl. I want to say it is supposed to be our holiday we do it tough at  home day in day out just like they do and look forward to spending annual leave relaxing. I could say that but that would be rude, hurtful to my family and friends. How do we see friends in Melbourne,Clare, Geelong, Sydney,Coffs Harbour and Brisbane in such a short time covering  hundreds of kilometres?.

night 8 on a fold out bed
night 8 on a fold out bed

“Why don’t you rent a big house the whole time  and ask your family and friends to come and visit you?’

I imagine renting an awesome country home.

Great idea I say

I announce we are “home”,come and invite our friends to come and visit.

“We can’t we have Lucas’s 40th  birthday party, little Mia has ballet class, Patrick has Auskick, , I have a work function , the kitchen is being renovated, there is an auction, the car is being serviced, got a new job,   we have our  used all our  annual leave  ,it’s too far, stay with us.we are off to Noosa/Bali/Fiji for the school holidays,why don’t you come? You guys make heaps of money, I have work and can only come on the weekend”, says almost everybody.

I imagine looking out the Australian holiday window,It is freezing outside, cold wet and miserable as Melbourne winter should be. Lots of friends are planning their 2 week winter getaway  to rest and relax.

I already hear myself saying I want to go home.

Home is where my old faithful  beat up brown couch is.

DISCLAIMER: I love my parents, parents in law and our  Aussie based friends.. You all know which one of you has crappy spare beds!  xoxooxox

FitExpat- Part 1

Expat wife
Expat wife

FitExpat by Andy Mayer

Many non working women living an expat life have more time available to them than their home country  working counterparts. I like to say there are 3 types of  non working expat wives

1) The Exercisers

2) The Bakers

3) The Charity Givers

Now that is not to say that one woman cannot encompass all 3 types but to simplify things I shall grossly generalise and probably upset multitudes of women in the process.

So let’s talk about group #1

The Exercisers

This group of non working expat women fall into 3 ofetn confused subcategories

1.A. Hard Core Exercisers AKA The “All or nothings”

Tough Mudder
Tough Mudder

They have a gym membership,  personal trainers, they lift weights, kickbox and  take tredding classes on the same day. They are often seen posing in photographs on FB with their Tough Mudder T shirt their  trail runner Hong Kong  t shirt, their I climbed Mt Everest T shirt or showing their half marathon medals. These woman are not to be messed with. They are in and committed Laboutin boots and all and when they are “training” don’t mention gin and tonics on Friday or  your birthday party. They will not come or they will demand you change the date. They have muscles and flat tummies ( even the one’s with 3 or 4 kids!) Their conversation often starts with  “Hi How are you?  I just had a super charged gym session and am on my way to grab a juice and off to my pole dancing class”. Occasionally there is a rare non runner who prefers to do  bikram yoga 17 times a week and paints. Think muscles here.

1B. All or Nothing but Only  in Bursts Exerciser

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These chicky babes flourish in expat circles. All have little bellies, little paunches that they proudly say are the  “pouches of motherhood” or something like that.They can be found working out at the latest gym where it was a 3 month  trial membership, 30 days unlimited yoga sessions or even at   12 session standup paddle board lessons. They thrive on inconsistent consistency like months of exercise followed by months of holiday mode type  mojito drinking,  consuming copious amounts of bread, local delicacies and beer.  Their weight fluctuates only by 3 or 4 kilos but they are always complaining of being fat.They are well intentioned exercisers it is just the trainer left town while they were on their holiday, their knee hurts every time they train for a half marathon, their spot got taken in the class they wanted or apathy of winter set in and they just couldn’t be arsed. One all or nothing but only in bursts exerciser was overheard recently that the shippers broke her treadmill and the sadness of losing her routine overwhelmed her so she drank beer and smoked shisha…..

1C. The Social Exercisers

Gin and Tennis
Gin and Tennis

These expat sista’s have strong elbows from lifting their tennis raquets and their Gin and Tonics. They have been known to take golf lessons along with tennis lessons and have gorgeous outfits to match their toned but not too toned bodies. They can be seen exercising in groups either in each others loungeroom to Jane Fonda tapes or  The Chick from The  Biggest Loser  DVD’s. They walk to their car and drive away waving and smiling from their exercise sometimes with full makeup on. Many times a week the conversation will play out like this

Blonde social exerciser: “Ok girls coffee  at mine and then we can go for a pedi and a quick lunch, call your driver and have him get all the kids from school today”

Brunette social exerciser: “Great I shall text our domestic and have her prepare some hummus and carrot sticks for the kids after school snack”.

Dirty Blonde social exerciser: “Look I have a bottle of Bollinger in the fridge lets just order sushi delivery and crack that  but I have to cancel my (insert anything) lesson first”.

Once I overheard a social exerciser ask if a  sauna counted as exercise?

 

Stay tuned for the Bakers and The Charity Givers

 

andy xoxoxox