Happy Balance

13 Feb

My vision of Bermuda as I ploughed my way through tax forms in drizzly London

Becoming an expat has been a funny thing. The process of letting our house, leaving our jobs and filling out piles of tax forms was a stressful one, but my vision of Bermuda was a constant sanctuary of beauty that would dissolve my woes and restore my zen. When I was on my eighth tax form (yes, eight) and tearing my hair out at HMRC’s consistent inability to use PLAIN ENGLISH I stopped, took a breath, and thought of myself lying on a white beach, warm sunshine on my face.

Bermuda in my mind was turquoise oceans and tropical flowers and pastel coloured houses. And, conversely, England was grey and drizzle and grumpiness and train delays. I expected there to be downsides, but I tended to dwell more on thoughts of the beach than of the bugs.

For the first few months of living abroad, everything was exciting – streets we hadn’t been down before were interesting and exploring supermarkets was a novel adventure. Then, winter came, and so did the downsides. I spent a lot of January missing the things that England could guarantee me but Bermuda couldn’t; fresh berries in the supermarket, the variety of shops on the high street, cinema multiplexes, good value Italian restaurants.

It’s like when you first buy a house. Before you move in your new house has a south-facing living room that catches the sunlight, blooming roses climbing round the front door, and a back garden with lots of potential. Then, after you’ve lived there for a little while, you also start to notice peeling paint on the bedroom door, the gap between the oven and the worktop which catches the crumbs and the dip in the floorboards on the landing. Your sunny living room is still cheerful and bright, but your relationship with your house becomes a more realistic one. There are things to tweak and fix and sometimes just put up with.

I left England thinking it was a country full of rubbish weather and stressed commuters, and imagining Bermuda as a warm, relaxing paradise. The truth is that nothing is that two dimensional – there are so many things about home that I took for granted when I was there and miss now, and Bermuda has shown me its limits too. I’ve realised that everything is a happy balance; that there are amazing days and disappointing days when finding your feet as an expat; and that to truly enjoy the experience you have to stop and take in what you have, rather than miss what you left behind.

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4 Responses to “Happy Balance”

  1. sally beedie 13 February, 2011 at 2:50 pm #

    Stopping and taking in what you have is good advice for anyone anywhere in the world wether they are away from home and love ones or not. However, I can guarantee the view from your windows will always be more exciting than mine! Enjoy it while you can and embrace every opportunity while you are young, free and healthy. Old fashioned I know, but oh so true! Get up each day and say’Bring it on’!

    • suscatty 13 February, 2011 at 9:58 pm #

      Thanks Sally, that sounds like excellent advice to me! x

      • Sarah Carless 21 March, 2011 at 6:24 pm #

        I agree with Sally. remember, jan and feb can be rubbish months due to christmas and new year being over and the weather being dull whilst waiting for spring to arrive. You’re definitely in a good place to have the january blues even though I’m sure you miss england too. It’s sounds as though you’re a positive person and like myself look forward to the better things to come. x

      • suscatty 22 March, 2011 at 3:07 pm #

        Hi Sarah

        Thanks for taking the time to read my blog! It’s true, the January blues get you no matter what country you are living in! But I’m pleased to say the weather is warming up and I’m really looking forward to our first summer here. And in the meantime, there’s always online shopping to keep me happy 😉

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