Monday, February 17, 2014

Lady Who Lunches

One of the weirdest transitions in moving to another country has been suddenly finding myself with nothing but time.

Whereas the last couple of months in Baltimore I felt as though each day was crammed from 6am-11pm with work, chores, errands, goodbyes, and a half dozen on-going To-Do lists, I am catapulted into this weird parallel universe where I wake up in the morning and have absolutely nothing I have to do, and nowhere I have to be.

This is not an easy transition.

It's only been ten days, and already I am feeling the anxiety of "what to do with myself." The obvious choices - relaxing, reading, writing - seem difficult to commit to at the moment because these are my go-to "alone" activities and hobbies; the things I retreat to when I need down time. Now, with nothing but down time, it feels painful to sit down to read or write. It doesn't help that The Gentleman had to go back to work the day after we arrived and that I don't yet know many people here. 

In Baltimore, I filled every single minute of every day. Part of that was the anxiety of being in a long-distance relationship. Too much down time meant too much time to fixate on the absence of my partner, and it was much easier to over-schedule and run myself ragged than to sit around and think about all of the things I was missing. In Baltimore, I also had a job that would take as much of me as I was willing to give, side jobs that were equally amendable, and a healthy social circle. Down time was a luxury. It also meant that during my "down time," I was too exhausted to do anything but watch Netflix in bed, but that's besides the point.

The biggest mistake I could make right now would be to sink into the weird exhaustion that occurs when you have too much time on your hands. Not having anything to do can really put a damper on your productivity because it's all too easy to slip into a pattern of laziness and "I have all the time in the world," and the next thing you know it's 6pm and you're still in your pajamas watching Hulu. I am not that person - and never have been - and so dealing with all of this free time is going to require some good old-fashioned planning and coordination.

Also, in moving to a new country, I've found that it can be very easy to get overwhelmed and to start to crave the four walls of your new flat as comfort. This is a terrible idea. Not leaving the house just makes things worse, and even if the thought of trying to painfully explain to one more cab driver where you need to go - when you yourself aren't even 50% sure - you have to force yourself to get up and out. To get dressed at least.

Not that this has all been bad. I am only just now feeling the first twinges of discontent and hoping that my visa comes through quickly so that I can get back to work (unbelievably, I so crave routine and responsibility). Most days, I get up and enjoy a long leisurely workout, a long leisurely shower, and then I (gasp) cook breakfast and lunch. I fold my clothes carefully instead of tossing them into drawers, I squeegee the glass walls of the shower to prevent streaks, and I take my time doing simple tasks properly. Because I have the time. When it takes forever to find a cab or when a waiter takes overlong to get my order, I don't panic or stress. It's no problem. I have the time. This is a luxury in and of itself, especially coming from a mid-Atlantic city that prides itself with being right up there with New Yorkers in terms of militant timing and demands. 

It's both freeing and surreal to feel this consistent, pure lack of anxiety on a daily basis. The constant thrumming of energy that existed in the base of my throat and in my chest (that would really only go away when I was completely and totally exhausted, and even then would trickle into my mind and tick away while I slept) is gone for the first time in my adult life. 

Learning how to balance the good (I sleep like a baby these days) and the bad (it's 9:45am and I'm still in pajamas - not a good start) is going to be a process. Ideally, it takes about 30 days to get all of the visa paperwork said and done, and I am trying to focus on the fact that my time as a "lady who lunches" (yawn) is temporary and that I should enjoy it while I can. It's all a learning process. 

Now, I'll let all of you who are currently giving me stink eye get back to your jobs and your hectic lives while I make the bed and get dressed. BIG DAY!

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