Thursday, 5 December 2013

Rooms to let...

Trailers for sale or rent
Rooms to let...fifty cents.
No phone, no pool, no pets
I ain't got no cigarettes
Ah, but..two hours of pushin' broom
Buys an eight by twelve four-bit room
I'm a man of means by no means
King of the road.
-Rodger Miller, King of the Road, 1964

Usually, I wouldn't have considered myself a sucker for punishment, but here I am again, looking for a new home in a new country. You would think I'd have learned the first few times, but no, I'm pigheaded like that. Because, you see, trying to find a flat or room in a new city, in a new country, using the metric system (metres!?), and in a different language is, frankly, bloody hellish.

All the excitement of the prospects of a new place with new people seems to ebb away with the drip from the cracked sink in the "room", the questionable stains, and caution of, "oh yeah, watch your head." And that is just the beginning! House hunting isn't fun in any country (or perhaps I'm doing it wrong...?).

Moving to a new country is never easy - there is so much you have to research, things to think through, flat or room to find, bank account to set up, and perhaps worst of all: job to find. However...this is also why it is the most exhilarating, terrifying, and enjoyable thing.

People always say to me, "Gosh, you are so brave to do it." I never think about it in terms of bravery, it's just moving to another country after all, people do it all the time!  I'm one of the the lucky ones that understands the lingo well enough and has family down the road to stay with. What I have come to realise, however, is that it does have to do with conviction and confidence. You desperately need to want to make it happen, otherwise, you'll be back at where you started from, and that isn't really an option. The only thing worse in my mind than failing is being back at where I started. Then I would have achieved nothing. (Some might say I haven't, in this day and age when love and money seem to mean everything and nothing.) This is where that pigheadedness comes in handy....

The beginning is the hardest - when the excitement mingles with the disappointment and frustrations. And it isn't just about finding a room either; it's about finding a place where you will fit in, a place where you will happy. This may apply to the room or flat, to the city you've chosen, the people you've suddenly met. The panic sometimes hits after seeing a particularly bad place that looks nothing like the photo and when the price has magically doubled. What have I done? I've left everything and everybody...oh hell, I'm crazy for doing this.

This is natural. And we are crazy, those of us that do "up sticks" regularly. We leave everything we've ever known, to settle in a new country for the sheer joy that we can. There are some of course (I call these the organised ones), that go to new countries because of jobs. They live in nice flats, their children go to International schools, they have lunch on golf courses with fake grass. It's brilliant.

But, in that cosy equation there is none of that panic, doubting of sanity, intense relief of finding a half decent place, or the learning curve that comes with it. That recognition of achievement of something important. The first time around this was really tough, and it is now (why am I doing it again...?), and I'm sure it will be the next time too, but goodness me, you sure know you are living. I have grown so much and have learnt so much about myself - to trust my gut, to try to keep patience (and we know how hard that is...), and to perhaps have faith. I'd love to have the nice flat and the jet setting job and the kids and the husband with a background of white sand beaches, but I don't. I've got the tougher road, and I love it. It is my life - all my own, and I get to make of it what I will.

So, I'm feeling impatient and frustrated, and I have certainly been doubting my sanity, but I know it will sort itself out. Maybe not right now, but soon enough. Hell, this is the "easy" part. I've got to find a job next, and that is a much bigger task. But do you know, the honest truth is, part of me doesn't even care. Yes it is hard, and it sucks, and it makes you want to sit in bed drinking tea all day - but I am living. I worked hard for years and skimped and saved and went without so I could do this now. I'll work again, somewhere, and I'll skimp and save, and I'm sure I'll do it all over again. We are, as humans, creatures of habit after all.

It feels great to wake up everyday, to take that first breath before the panic of reality and the world's pressure set in, and think "I am living." It's crazy and wild, irresponsible and lonely; it's unsustainable and heart-rending; it's tangible and real so that you can almost taste it. It is life. I wouldn't change that for the world.

Like the hobo in the song mentioned above, I'm one with means by no means and I'm "king of the road." I'm richer by far for my experiences, and I wouldn't want it any other way. For all my complaints on the frustrations of moving to a new country, I would say to you, "try it, please - push your boundaries and experience something different", but I know we can't all be irresponsible. Perhaps I would say that it can be done though, and one is often better for having made the journey than not at all. It doesn't mean you've got to move to outer Mongolia, but a new adventure closer to home may be an option. Who knows, your state might have trails to be explored, mountains to be climbed, sea to surfed, etc.

All I know is, I've got it all waiting out there for me - it's time to go discover it!