Tuesday, 16 March 2010

The Price is High

Living in another country makes you think on where it is you'd like to settle someday. Or if you'd like to settle at all. I read this quote the other day from Anna Del Conte’s memoir Risotto with Nettles. Del Conte, a popular Italian food writer here in the UK, writes about her move from Italy to England, and the challenges she faces—both in the differences in food, but also in lifestyle.

I have become a hybrid, fitting properly neither here nor there, being neither English nor any longer Italian, always missing something when I am here or something else when I am there. Even now that I am old, I have the dilemma of where I should be buried: here in the lovely churchyard of this picturesque village in Dorset, where I now live, or in my family’s tomb in the grand Monumentale cemetery in Milan. Even dead I will not settle . . .One might have a less dull life, more interesting experiences, broader education, but the price is high.”

I'm nomadic. By nature. I don't know where I got it from as the only person who has stamps in their passports, in my family, are my Grandma's. But it's in my blood. Deep. My grandma Joan told me once, "When you travel it gets in your blood. It will never leave. Whether you like it or not." How true that is.

The price is high though. Moving is pretty upsetting. I can't tell you how many sets of furniture I've gotten rid of because I've decided to move someplace on a whim. I don't have much anymore, and what I do have are in boxes in my sisters attic. You uproot yourself from where you know and go to the unknown. No friends, no family. You have to build a life over and over again. Without the close support of family. It is challenging. I don't regret my decisions. I am who I am because of the places I've seen and the people I have met. But it is a challenge.

How long will Luis and I be in Scotland? We aren't sure. When does the decision to live in Scotland for a year become forever? We've been here since February 2008. When and where will we be next? Or will there be a next? I want to decorate my flat, but what is the point when I know we'll leave at some point. If I decorate does that mean I'm staying? I must say that does go through my mind.

Living without close friends is hard. Not for LD. He doesn't care. He is his own BFF. But for me, having friends is a need. When you live in another country your new friends are going to be different than your old ones. For the obvious reasons that you live in another culture. They do things differently. It will be something to get used to. You may not find that one kindred spirit to call your bestie living so far away from your normal.

But I love love love living here. Scotland is beautiful. Gorgeous really. The history alone is amazing. The castles are our favorite. The beauty is enchanting. The customs and culture are interesting and funny. The opportunity to actually LIVE with another culture and its people is once in a lifetime.

When you travel you never come back the same. The people and places you'll see will change you forever. I like that. I always want to be changing and getting better. It is the life of an expat. But it comes at a price, and the price is high.


  1. Mary - thank you for that post. I feel the same. I never regretted moving to Scotland, but there is a price, you're right. I am closer to my roots than you are, but there are still times when friends and family seem so far away! I've made new friends here, but they're not the same as people who knew me since I was a teenager and saw me growing up - nobody could understand me that well. I need to visit Poland from time to time, but when I'm there I always miss Scotland and I consider it my home. But I will always be coming back to Poland cause part of me will belong there forever.
    It's good to know that other expats feel the same way.

  2. Don't wait to decorate--make your house a home at all times. We've moved 12 times in 11 years, though not out of the country. I am grateful for the internet which can keep us all more connected....

  3. Travel is in the blood. When I'm not traveling - I'm dreaming of the next place to go. My brother and I joke that we inherited this condition from our father. It's like an itch that never fully goes away.

    As for friends, they're hard to make no matter where you are. I feel ya. I too resemble that quote and I live in the same town I grew up in.

    I think not owning much is awesome. It keeps the spirit light. I have this theory that when you own too much - the stuff you own starts to own you.

    I feel you regarding the price.
    I say: enjoy it. The time will come when you'll trade it all and then miss your years in Scotland :)

  4. LOVE your post Mar! It's moving (no pun intended!) and soul bearing. You will move again but for now you and I both know that Scotland is the best place to build your great marriage with your husband. There's a reason for everywhere ou live, I think you know that too!

  5. If I had my choice you'd be my next door neighbor (its vacant!) but I know your experiences there are what you need. Moving does suck...I never lived in the same place longer than 1.5 years growing up. Actually my 2.5 years here is my longest anywhere!

    I miss you like crazy!

  6. Well written. & So true. I've been a wanderer since birth. It started with all of the times my family moved as a kid and I just picked up and ran with it. It's difficult. Some places agree with the constitution better than others. It's lonely at times. But I sometimes observe people who never move and know that staying put is not for me. It's a fascinating conundrum, isn't it - not really belonging anywhere?

  7. I'm so sorry it took me so long to write a comment on this post. I've just been stewing about it since you wrote it! (in a good way).

    I found myself saying, "Yes, yes!" the entire time. I completely relate to it. I'm not satisfied with a normal life. I'm not happy being in one spot forever. I'm happiest when I'm exploring, having adventures, seeing the world, having history before me, and on and on. But, you are right. There is a price.

    For me, it isn't not being near family. I don't have any family, but it is hard for me to know that other people just don't "get it", you know? They don't understand the drive, the NEED to see and experience. And, you're right, it's hard to go without little things you love.

    Finally, this is one of my favorite quotes ever. I think it's perfect:

    "I have always been unsatisfied with life as most people live it. Always I want to live more intensely and richly. Why muck and conceal one's true longings and loves, when by speaking of them one might find someone to understand them, and by acting on them one might discover oneself?" --Everett Ruess

  8. This was such a great post!! Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I feel very similarly. I caught the travel bug very early on, and it wasn't long before I had traveled more extensively than anyone in my family (including my parents). And probably not coincidentally, I've also moved around more than any of my siblings. But I love it! It is hard, but I really love seeing and experiencing new people and new places. I've learned so much.

  9. I so associate w this! Thank you

  10. I can associate with thus too. It's comforting to know there are others like me. Thank you!


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