Loneliness can be connected to so many areas of life. When you have financial problems, when you have health problems, when you have a Special child, when you move a town or a country. There are others, of course, but these are my lonely areas, things we've been through these last few years that made us stare loneliness in the face.
And still there are the moments that sneak up on you, like when I read about the amount of time grandparents spend with their grandchildren, or not knowing a children song that everyone knows, or having a birthday with no family around, or when there is a bad doctors appointment, or when your baby can't breathe in the middle of the night and needs to be rushed to the A&E (to my parents, who are reading this and becoming anxious, it happened 3 years ago. It's an example. The kids are fine). Life is full of those tiny moments, and being an expat you feel them mixed together with a dash of guilt, because it was your choice. You could have stayed, but no. You decided to move, and now you can't really complain about it, because this feeling you have right now? That black hole of loneliness that is filling you? It's your fault. You are to blame for sitting alone at the holiday table, you are to blame for having no friends, you are to blame for the fact that nobody is talking to you at the school gate, you are to blame that you are standing in the toilet paper aisle crying over rolls of toilet paper.
|The Morrisons. I don't have a photo of the toilet paper aisle.|
These moments of loneliness, for some, grow more and more. The need to be connected, to be a part of some group, the desire to have a "we" to belong to. That, together with the gap that is inevitable between the children's culture and the parents' one, is what drive most people to go "back home", or to form closed ethnic groups in the real and virtual worlds. Because sometimes the loneliness is just too much to bear.
For me it's a different story. I welcomed the loneliness, I still do most of the time. People, obligations and groups make me feel like I am suffocating, and being an expat makes all of that go away, and for me it makes me feel I can breathe. I love the long hours alone in the house, and the freedom that comes with the loneliness. I never wanted to be part of any "we" in particular, I don't enjoy groups (or most people), and I hate obligations of any kind. So we were never a part of any Israeli group, or Jewish group, or expat group. We were, are, mostly just us. And the eclectic "we" we build for ourselves. People that became our family. We had that when we lived in Gibraltar, and now when we moved to London we have to build it all again. Building is a slow process. I mean, first of all you have to meet new people. Where do you meet new people when you are a thirty something stay-at-home mum? Then you have to like those people. And they have to like you. And then you have to start the long process of "befriending", which is a bit like dating - did they like us? why haven't they called? do you think we should have them over at ours? how many chances do we give them? We are married. We shouldn't have to date anyone. Or go to the gym. But that's for a different post.
After four years of living like this, the truth is we are used to it. Most of the time I don't really think about it. I have my blog, we have a tiny "we" here, and everyday life is usually so hectic around here that it trumps everything. But then I read an article about this Facebook group for Israeli mothers living in London (which, believe it or not, I am a part of. Not a participating part, but I am registered) and they talked about that loneliness, some of our "we" declared they are on their way out of London, the summer holiday is here and we found ourselves completely alone while everyone else were talking about grandparents and friends and shared holidays and the likes, I was feeling alone in the world because my blog wasn't going anywhere and Twitter hated me (read all about it in the last million posts), I felt lost with how to help Yon get ready for Reception, and how to help Ron use his giftedness, and a branch of Hidai's family were about to come over for a week in London.
We don't have a big family, both Hidai and I, but where my brother lives in London and my parents visit about 4 times a year, we don't get to see Hidai's side at all (unless we are in Israel, which does not happen often). We haven't seen this branch in about four years, when we made plans to meet them for breakfast on Saturday. This long period of time that has passed, combined with my trepidation of obligations, and our anxiety about how the kids will behave (they were too young to remember the last time we met Hidai's family, and they are too used to consider just us and my parents as their immediate family) and how Hidai's family will react to Yon (who, beside his glasses and hat, usually saves his worse behaviour for just these instances), all made us a bit nervous when Saturday morning came and we went to meet them at Borough Market.
|I got Baklava. it only cost me 3 pound each.|
|Ship & boys|
All in all it was a lovely morning. A morning that made us feel, for one tiny moment, less alone.