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The snow falls for many months in the winter here, heavier than it would in Denmark and its one of the few things about New England i actually love. Leaving the heavy bustle of apartment living and cities to go through the woods in the snow, is a welcome retreat for me.
Feeling the great spirit of everything around me. The rustling in the woods of the deer, Thor brewing another storm and just being able to truly breathe.
I don’t have my little plot of land with yet, so wilderness is my freedom till that day comes.
As many of you know, you grow older and the hardships start to pile and bring you down to earth where the worms live. The ground is tough in every land and you have to work to make those flowers grow. They may not grow in Texas the way they do in Denmark, but no matter how hard and covered in ice the ground becomes — when the seasons bloom as do the flowers.
“Well you could always pull a Captain Call,” – Matt LeBlanc, my maid of honor and our best friend said when we told him how upset we were that Basil died in New England.
A place that isn’t home to any of us. As always, that man is a gift to us and I don’t think he realizes it.
I’ve never thought about where I’ll die, because it never mattered to me whether I lived or not. I figure when I die my bones will be where they lay. I’ll be dust to the wind and no one will mourn because they’ll know how free I am. However, with Basil it always mattered. If I could change one thing I would have walked Basil back to Texas, even if it meant walking right through my shoes. Every stone making me wince but my bloody feet would have carried us home no matter what.
“It’s like I told you last night son. The earth is mostly just a boneyard. But pretty in the sunlight, he added,”
Everything went so fast and suddenly. Just a month ago he was still playing, running and being the beagle he always has been. He never stopped wanting to play, but by the end he just couldn’t. I wanted so desperately for him to feel the warmth of the Texas sunset on his face again, to roll around in the hottest and most dangerous grass of America again — where we all felt safe. After all. Basil was a Texas boy just like Jack. I do wonder if bringing him home in time would have changed anything, but realistically his legs would still have begun to drag, so I don’t know that it could’ve helped — but we all loved Texas. So it just might have.
“I’m glad I’ve been wrong enough to keep in practice. . . You can’t avoid it, you’ve got to learn to handle it. If you only come face to face with your own mistakes once or twice in your life it’s bound to be extra painful. I face mine every day–that way they ain’t usually much worse than a dry shave.”
Those who know me intimately know that I am to be cremated with my favorite book, Lonesome Dove. Jack bought Lonesome Dove for me from goodwill telling me “its a classic and you have to read it.” I remember the day we bought it. We’d had double Daves pizza with bacon and pepperoni, rummaged around goodwill and then ended up in Hobby lobby as we often do.
He didn’t tell me it would change my life. That it would shake every bone in my body and be the worst book hang over I have ever experienced in my entire life.
It took me a while to get around to reading it, because my reading list is from here to everywhere; but I started reading it a few months before we made our big move up north, I read it along the way and I finished it in our first months in our new place. Six months it took me. We were making as big a trip as they were in the book. It is the greatest gift I’ve ever been given. Just like Gus — Basil’s legs were ultimately the death of him. I didn’t realize that our ending would be somewhat the same, but it fits that Basil was our Gus McCrae. Because of the two I am definitely Woodrow.
Basil was a wonderful reminder that things can be good and life is precious we just have to realize it. Things aren’t always as bad as they seem.
“It ain’t dying I’m talking about, it’s living. I doubt it matters where you die, but it matters where you live.” Spoken by Augustus McCrae.
A memory that I cherish, that I have secretly treasured all these years is from when we lived in bum fuck Egypt Texas, in the little red brick house with snakes in the piping… where frogs in the yard were the size of a finger nail. The army of coyotes that we lived with sang us to sleep every night and where Basil got addicted to meth.
“The stars in Texas could have been taken from Van Gogh’s Starry night. They shine like crystals freckled across a deep velvet sky and are laced in a fluff of cloud. They bring the coyotes to song and lullaby bluejays to sleep. Crickets hum and tweak somewhere in the brush. When I looked up I was surrounded by a circle of what seemed the worlds tallest trees. The moon danced delicately around; being kissed by stars as it swung by. How small I was here. I was so far from anything familiar. Yet, I think I found it. “It.” What many never find in a lifetime, I found by the time I was 20.
I found me, and I’ll be damned if I didn’t find me in Texas.
So here I stand staring at the sky holding his hand: stars rolling on and time passing. Mosquitoes buzzing and bleeding us dry. Texas taught me that freedom does exist you just have to find it: whether it’s riding in the dusty brush or sitting at the bar with two southern gentlemen talking about absolutely nothing. Jack taught me how to find happiness in the darkest corners, how to fight for love and how to make tacos. Now I’m living in a wild and dangerous country, and everything is trying to eat me alive. Its true, Texas made a woman out of me and I wouldn’t change a thing.”
This was taken from a previous piece I wrote about moving to Texas, and this is the memory that I have been visiting. It wounds me but its a place that I can escape to because it was a moment where there was peace, and we had everything ahead of us. We were three. Though Basil is not mentioned, he is in there. You just have to look. In every word. Every breath. Every single letter — he’s in there somewhere. As much apart of the words as the stars above us or the air we breathed. He was at our feet watching the stars just as we were. Watching us. Knowing probably that one day we’d be ok when he wasn’t around. That little comfort didn’t know how big he was. Truly. That boy could carry the world on his shoulders. He is the tank you wanna ride into war, because he will carry you out. Every time. And he’ll never complain. But he’ll be there. Taking every bullet and every piece of shrapnel.
So as our final thank you to you Basil, we’ll carry you home to Texas. Just as Woodrow Call carried Gus McCrea. We made a promise, and though others may find it stupid or too much for “just a dog”, it was a promise made in utter love. I would do it for Jack and I would do it for you. We’ll take you back to where the stars are so big you could pick them. Where we all were so happy, even through our growing pains. Where we were all so young, so stupid and ready to get out and live. That’s where we’ll all go — and we’ll go together. Like always.
How stupid we were to want to get out and live, when we were already dreaming.
“Yesterday’s gone on down the river and you can’t get it back.”
― Augustus McCrae.
“Live through it,” Call said. “That’s all we can do.”
Hello lovely readers !
Let me catch you up a little on whats going on.
A few days ago i received an email asking if i was interested in contributing to an online expat magazine on expat.com.
I was so surprised and super excited, so of course i said yes. What an interesting opportunity.
I only recently happened across this website for expats a week or two ago from happening to glance at a few other expat blogs, so this all happened really quickly. Hence my surprise. Its a really great platform for people to learn about moving abroad and getting information from real people who have experienced that kind of life. So its genuine advice, thoughts and discussions. So if theres anyone out there reading this that wants to move abroad and wants a little help, this might be a nice place for you. (This is not an advert by the by — this is just my own opinion and i’m not paid to have said opinion).
Anyway, they sent me a list of questions to answer about my blog and my general expat experiences. I know i don’t write like other people so i was a little unsure that my writing was right for something like this as its very “novel-esque,” but thats just the ever present self doubt we all suffer from once in a while making an appearance.
Tomorrow this little extract on me goes live on the online magazine, and i didn’t realise it that it means i am “the blogger of the month” August 2018 ! How exciting is that after only having been a member for a very short time?
Thats my little bit of news for this gloomy Monday night.
I hope you all have a lovely on going week, and that its not as humid where you are as it is here.
You can read the “interview” here!
“I’ve been homesick for countries I’ve never been, and longed to be where I couldn’t be.” —John Cheever
When i first started out my blog i wanted to talk about integrating into another culture, being an expat and living away from your home country; the struggles and the joys.
This will be my first official post about being an expat.
So here are ten frequently asked questions i get daily.
1. What are you doing here?
This is the biggest question i get asked, and quite frankly the rudest.
I always immediately lock up and become utterly defensive — wanting to respond with something witty and probably seeded with expletives.
But regardless of that — the simple answer to that question is that i’m living.
2. What made you want to come to America?
When you’re foreigner or expat, unfortunately it automatically makes your life a public spectacle. People become nosey, and want to know everything about you. This can be incredible frustrating and i’m still finding my feet on how to handle questions that i don’t entirely want to answer. As i’ve said i’m a private person and my business is my business. In short i never wanted to come to America – i didn’t plan on it. I didn’t even want to go to America on holiday. I wanted to move back to Denmark and die there, but my plans clearly changed. I met a man i couldn’t even have dreamed of and i moved to be with him. Yes, long distance relationships are hard, but not impossible if they’re worth it and mine absolutely was. People are always quick to cast something aside when it gets tough, but thats not what life is about. Its about taking that bull by the horns and riding him out.
3. Don’t you miss you family?
Yes. Everyday. I think about them everyday. I wonder what they’re doing and if they’re happy. If they ever think of me and what i’m doing. I wonder what i’m missing out on. I picture what life could have been like if i’d moved to Denmark and been there with them 24 -7. And thats when i realise it never could have been me. Realistically i was born to discover and wander. And my family let me go like a free bird looking for warmer suns. I miss out on so many wonderful gatherings, and when i hear others around me talking about not wanting to visit grandma, how their mother was being a pain or their father wont buy them a car … i think to myself. How lucky you are to have your family down the road. Never forget how lucky you are, because there are days when it is torture and a very lonely way to live if you are 4000 miles away from them.
4. What was immigration like?
Well, first off it cost more than a liver, set of kidneys and a prosthetic leg on the black market. But i will say, considering the cost, we had a relatively painless experience regarding immigration. The worst part was probably having to go to do medical things, which i hated but it wasn’t as terrible as i’d thought it was going to be. I thought i was going to have to drop my clothes and get man handled. I do not appreciate being at all trifled with so this was my worst nightmare. It was not as bad as all that. I just had my measurements, bio metrics and some injections done. Pretty painless, but i’d actually looked up a list of the medical things i needed before i left home and got my own doctor to give me most of the jabs i needed.
5. Do you get to go home very often?
Sadly not as often as i would wish. Its expensive and a very long trip. Its a night and a day. Its really enjoyable when theres two of us but thats even more expensive especially with an animal the needs constant attention at home. So no. Sometimes i’ll go alone for a few weeks which is nice but its hard to be away from one life to go to another. Theres also people who want to see you but don’t understand that you just don’t have time to see everyone inside of a short holiday — this can cause a lot of agro so i pretty much stick to just seeing family.
But i always miss Jack terribly. We’re two peas in a pod. And i don’t like being alone in a pod.
6. Weren’t you scared?
Nope. I wasn’t. I honestly never thought it was as big a deal as everyone made out to me. I was excited, but i wasn’t ever scared or in any doubt. I’d made my mind up to go and so i did. I looked back but only to see how far i’d come. Never in regret. I knew there would be things i would lose and be giving up, but life comes at you — you get up and you go.
7. What was it like to move such a long way?
It wasn’t until i’d been gone a year or so that i started to realise how hard the move was getting to be on me. My life ended up having to stop while i waited for immigration to be done. I couldn’t legally work, i couldn’t drive and it was Texas… there was nowhere to go that was in walking distance. Even if there had been — the heat would have killed me 20 steps in.
However, having been home all that time gave me months of working on interests and projects. I learned to knit, crochet, practice my photography, created art, learned to sew, exercised and practiced Shakespeare. I read as many books as physically possible and taught myself to cook. You have to make the best of the situations that suck. And it really wasn’t plain sailing. It was hard work. Nothing, and i mean nothing worth having is ever easy. Why would it be? You’d never appreciate it if it was. I suffered pretty severely from cabin fever but i got through it. Its a huge struggle that honestly cant truly be expressed in all its horrific-ness. You’ll know when you hit that wall, but remember. Just pursue the interests you’ve never had time for. Get excited about new bird species, sunrises and hailstones the size of your fists. Life is not all about 9 to 5 and paychecks.
8. Was it hard to start working in another country?
It was nerve wracking, and sometimes it still is. Even after a few years i don’t entirely understand the American culture or the way people act with each other here. And obviously, with me it goes slower because i am a notorious recluse. I don’t understand the rules, paperwork or the taxes. I’ve been lucky that i’ve had Jack to help me every step of the way, if i was alone it would have been a very arduous up hill battle. Working in another country never phased me till i tried it in the USA, the language is ever so slightly similar to English but don’t be fooled. Thats where the similarities end.
At least i’m still funny, witty and entertaining in every language. So i can always bring the laughs.
9. Does the magic of being an expat ever wear off?
Only if you let it. I don’t. I enjoy every car ride, every walk and every rain fall. Its another case of making the best of the opportunity you’ve been given. Yes, i just made myself sound like a Labrador but truly, if any animal treasures every day — its a dog. So there are worse things.
I will say that not every day is a bed of roses and full of unicorns, sometimes those unicorns leave giant turds and those roses have thorns. But you cannot expect everyday to be a holiday. Visiting a place for a holiday is VERY different to moving there and creating an entirely new life. You still have to wake up to yourself every morning. This is something i CANNOT stress enough. I was lucky enough to know this from a very young age so i knew this when i moved to the USA. But those of you who don’t — think about it. I’ve met a few people who say things such as “I want to move to London, i had the best vacation for like a week,” or “I love Sweden is looks like so much fun in the snow!”
Stop. Right. There.
London can be a rough area — like any/every capital city. A week with a friend is fun and all, but a lifetime and you could be letting yourself in to some serious problems not to mention dangerous situations if you think its all Mary Poppins and Bridget Jones’ high waisted underpants. Mr.Darcy isn’t that good looking or charming in real life.
Swedish winters are beautiful but you could also turn into an icicle if you don’t know the ropes or you could go insane due to the 6 months of constant sunlight/darkness.
I’m not saying don’t go, but i am saying be smart and remember that life is life — it will have downs just like it has ups. Can you survive Monday to Friday living where-ever you want to go? You be completely starting over and it can be very lonesome.
10. Its easy to integrate if you want to, isn it?
Sure it is for some, but others not. I think a lot of that depends on culture and the country someone is moving to/from.
I don’t know that i’ve ever integrated anywhere, or ever wanted to. In England i was always the funny foreign kid but i still had a pretty great childhood, but i wouldn’t say i “integrated”. I’ve never changed, i’ve been the same person for a good while — i’m worldly, and though antisocial, i do mix pretty well with a lot of cultures and people. For the most part I believe in respecting a country for what it is and not asking it to fit YOU. Its you who must assimilate. The country does not owe you a damn thing. Remember that.
However, I quite enjoy being an outsider looking in. You experience more and get a better understanding of differences.
Your mind broadens.
That is a huge gift.
Do you have anything you want to ask or want to know about being an expat?
You can write a comment on this post, and i’ll try to answer as many as i can !