Friday, September 28, 2012

Packing up: Mentally, Physically and logistically

I am in a strange mental situation at the moment.  It has to do the fact that my life has taken a juxtaposition that rivals 'Monty Python'.

I am currently sat on my living room couch, surrounded by boxes and lists, eating chocolate, drinking tea, drunk after a few glasses of wine, thinking about my family, contemplating the disintegration of my current life whilst listening to my running ipod and trying to spare some brain-cells so I can write my final articles for Canadian Running Magazine.

I am a mental mess.

I am not sure that the fact I am leaving a country I have counted home on-and-off for seven years -that after battling to make friends and be a part of the community I live in, I am now forced in a way to leave it- I have come to terms with what's happening to me.

I feel like a traveller in my own life.

I am continuing; doing my daily tasks with the added chores associated with an international move, but without the presence of mind to fully comprehend.

I have my "I am leaving Canada" party tomorrow.  I am not sure honestly how I feel about it.  It's like attending a wake; you are there, but not entirely present or comprehending what is happening.  I know it sounds crass and unfeeling to associate me leaving a country to a death of a friend or relative; but that's exactly how it feels.  I am grieving for my life here; my friends, my connections, my community.  I am grieving for the life I could have had here.  I am sad for what I missed out on and what I failed to accomplish because this break wasn't on my RADAR.  To me it feels like a sudden death.

That's not to say that I am not happy about going back to see my family.  Of course I am.  This will be the first family Christmas D has had with his extended family.  This is the first time he would be opening presents where the action didn't involve a webcam.

My previous relocations have been an adventure; into the unknown and unfamiliar.  Even when we came back to Canada, it was still with the feeling of a grand adventure.  Now we are going home and although there is a sense of security and peace with that, there is also a sense of a part of my life that is over.  No longer will I be a person in foreign lands, I will be just one of the 'Nemo's'.  There will be nothing special about me at all.

This is turning into a rather morbid post and that wasn't the intention.  I suppose there is more emotional  connection to this land than I ever imagined.  This is my home and I am having to leave it.  I am a little lost.

As with any emotional turmoil, there is always a physical consequence.  There seems to be a trait with our international relocations that there has to be a 'health scare' before we leave.  One that is always serious enough that can't be ignored, and one that can't be resolved before the move.

In Australia, it was a car crash and the diagnosis of 'Early On-set Osteoporosis  two weeks before we arrived in Canada.  When I left the U.K to come to Canada for the first time I was suffering from PTSD and un-diagnosed post-natal depression.  This move is no different.

On-and-off over the last couple of years I have been dealing with a loss of sensation in my fingers and toes.  It is usually cold related and so intermittent that I never really bothered with it.  It was enough that my barefoot running was usually hampered from October to April because I couldn't feel my feet, but I just put on shoes and socks and decided to ignore it.  I didn't realise that my desire to ignore the issue had almost become pathological.  I even went to the point of not running in the winter so I didn't have to confront the fact I had a physical issue.  This summer, it became acute.  It's hard to put the lack of sensation to the cold when you are stood in 70F sun in August.  This was beginning to happen on a weekly basis, so I went to the doctor.  After a lot of blood-work I was called back.

I had a load of markers for 'Auto-immune' issues and I needed to see a number of specialists.  This was last week and I leave for the U.K in two weeks time.  I am now left with this underlying fear that there is something wrong and I really should have dealt with this issue sooner.  Could the tiredness and depression I have had over the last couple of years be due to something else?  Is this the reason I am now unable to eat anything more than chicken, rice and cooked greens?  I know there is nothing I could have done to prevent this situation and there is nothing I can really do to solve the situation, but sometimes the feeling of 'what-if' is enough to jolt the largest surge of optimism I can muster.

As for the 'logistical' packing?  Actually that is one part of my life that is going smoothly.  Too smoothly.

The shipping agent came around today to evaluate the house contents.  Firstly she was glad that she was talking to a 'Pro'.  She didn't need to discuss the process, the customs declarations and procedures.  There was no talk about what was an 'allowable' item and how the move would be organised.  In fact she was in-and-out in about ten minutes.

I mentioned to her that with all of the other international moves we have had this sense of panic in the last few days.  We were no-where near in clearing out the debris, or cleaning.  Nothing had been organised.  I actually remember on one move, phoning a junk removal company the day before we left, pleading for them to come the next day to remove our detritus.  They finished loading the skip about thirty minutes before our taxi for the airport arrived.

This time however, I am spent wandering around the house wondering what we have missed.  All the cupboards have been excavated.  The garage has been cleared of ninety-per-cent of it's junk.  I have this un-nerving feeling that somewhere in this house there is a 'closet of doom' just waiting to spew it's contents just before we hand over the keys to the landlord.  I keep feeling I have missed something and I am not sure what it is. We have nearly two weeks before our flight leaves and we seem to be pretty much organised.  Something is wrong here.

As to the running part of my life?  Well that's not going bad.  It's not going brilliantly -a nagging pain in my right knee is annoying me- but I am getting out there.  I am taking the time to run with friends.  I am enjoying the Autumnal sun which isn't present in the UK.  I am taking the last chances with my shorts before I relinquish them for eight months.  I am breaking out the arm warmers and the new SKORA shoes.  I am just taking the time to enjoy what BC has to offer.  I was debating to run my last race tomorrow, but my 'broken knee' isn't enjoying the change in weather and with two weeks before we fly, I know I am chancing a hospital trip tackling a technical trail race under-prepared.  Although I am lamenting my poor race season, I am looking forward to the prospect of Fell running.  There is nothing that attracts me more to a race than the fact I will come out of it looking like I have been 'mud-wrestling' with a bikini clad female -although admittedly the bikini clad female will have trail shoes and an hydration pack, but lets not destroy the fantasy.

This post hasn't been the 'fun and joy' I was intending.  It's a post you would normally write in a diary when you were fifteen.  I suppose that's what 'blogging' is all about really.  Writing about your fears, dreams and everyday experiences.  It's just that here you lay it to everyone so they can read it.  You don't hide it under the bed hoping your Mom doesn't find it whilst she is cleaning.

There is something about laying yourself open to the world that provides clarity.  I may be packing up in more ways than one, but my sense of hope is still there.

As I write the last line I heard this song come up on my running ipod.  It doesn't come up very often because my run has usually finished by this point and I always like to start at the beginning of the play-list.  I am almost OCD about that - the first song has to be Jean-Genie by David Bowie.  This song has reminded me of what's important.  It's reminded me of my Mom -who I miss- and Dad -who I miss even more.  It reminds me of my hopes and dreams of my own little family.  It reminds me what I want from life.  This moment of bereavement won't last, but the sentiment of this song will.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Moving onto the next chapter

Life is a strange being.  Most days you tootle along in your own little merry world, not really concerned about what life is planning for you behind the scenes.  You do your daily chores, you run your errands and in a brain-numbing way, you become content and relaxed. Then...


Just as you have settled on the 'Sofa of Monotonous Days' with your cup of tea and box of biscuits, life decides it's going to wake you up by ceremoniously kicking in you in your tender areas.

You are thrown into a whirlwind of events that only pauses occasionally, just to let you catch your breath, before it comes in for the next bell to land a left hook that floors you.

(Yes, I have had wine - not that you needed to ask).

I am currently in 'Round 35' and I am wondering which one of us is going to get the K.O first -life or me- because life has been in training.

As you can tell by the lack of posts in the right-hand side-bar, I have been holding my own against the onslaught, much to the detriment of my ad-hoc writing.  It all started here, in Round One when life decided to blind-side us with our Canadian Permanent Residency rejection.  It continued with school issues, school vacation, heavy workload and no time to do it.

After the rejection, our family picked ourselves up and -in our usual way- set to task on how to either: persuade the Canadian government to accept us, win the lotto, get an internal transfer to the UK (via my super-smart Hubby), save enough money to move ourselves, with the hope of a job at the end, or find some other miracle.

As we had never intended to get kicked out of the country -our PR seemed in the bag as we had successfully followed every bureaucratic hoop asked of us- we discovered that our savings would be wiped out in the need to cover the tens-of-thousands of dollars to move ourselves back. The other options were also pretty non-existant.  Our  hope was someone liked my hubbies work enough to help off-set some of the cost on moving ourselves back, and provide a job at the end of it.

We had talked to my husbands company about it, but after six months of muted rumblings and talks, nothing was really coming out of it.  We had talked to other companies too, but due to a big studio closure in the UK, there were more games programmers in the UK looking for work than teens at a Justin Beiber concert.  Most of the programmers were already in the UK and didn't need big relocation budgets.  We decided to hang tight, wait 6-8 month for the industry to settle, save as much as we could and try and get a UK job before our visa ran out in November 2013.

We sat back, enjoyed the glorious summer, made plans to get D into grade 2 without trauma and frankly use the next six months to catch our breath back and chill.

That was our fatal mistake.  Never believe for one minute life will let you catch your breath.

Earlier this week we began to get indications that hubbies company may pay for a relocation back to the UK.  Fantastic!  However, it all rested on the amount of relocation.  We had only just started saving and if we had no residual finances to cover the deficit on the relocation, then the chance to move back within the company would be moot.

The next day, hubbie had some calls with the internal recruiters and the informal inferences on the relocation package/job looked promising.  Could it be possible that we could move at the end of the year? Perhaps have Christmas in the UK?  D's first Christmas with family?

The paperwork came through and it wasn't until we read through it, that we realised the job offer and relocation was astounding.  Hubbies company had stood by him when others wouldn't and were offering him opportunities to stay with them.  We could move and stay with a company that has -given the family crap we have landed on their doorstep- treated us well.  We could move back to the UK, keep our savings and hubby would still have a job. YEA!!!

Yet, there was more.  Not only had they offered hubby a job, but they had offered him TWO jobs.  Jobs with different emphasis, in different parts of the country and they were letting us take our pick.

There had to be a catch.  Somewhere...

Well, yes there is - although it isn't something that will derail the plans; the only affect it has is moving our timescales forward.  We wouldn't be moving to the UK for Christmas; in fact we won't even be seeing Halloween in Canada.  They would like hubby to start at the beginning of November.  We have four, or so, weeks to move - not just down the road, but countries!

Given that this wasn't even on our RADAR, (okay, we had mentioned it as, "wouldn't it be nice if...") this is a HUGE change of thinking.  A sudden life-changing event that has hit us straight, square between the eyes.  One we are still getting our head around.

There are some other catches.  I have to give up my blogging on Canadian Running Magazine.  The magazine is very Canadian-centric and prefers authors to be resident in Canada.  I fully understood that when I took the role and I am honoured that they have let me write for them in the last 9-10 months.  They will always have a place in my affections for taking a chance on me and letting me see what I could do.

I will have to find a way of keeping D from internally melting.  Big changes can affect anyone with Autism.  Forgetting the size of this change, the quick timetable is going to be hard.  I have spoken to his school and effectively we are just going to concentrate on keeping D calm and happy.  Work, demands and pretty much anything else can go hang for the next four weeks.  I have to work out how to get D settled on the other side of the Atlantic.  New country, new city, new stores, new food, new house, new furniture, new school, new teachers, new friends - heck, new time-zone.  We fully accept that D will be a potential nuclear basket-case for at least 6-12 months.  I am coming to realise my job in the UK will be his aide and support - in and out of school.  That's fine, I am good at that.

I am sure there will be other hurdles, successes and failures.  There will be a multitude of conflicting emotions; excitement, relief, hope, love, joy, heart-breaking despair, grief, loss, loneliness.  I will yearn for the west-coast mountains that are part of my soul and the kid-like joy I get when i see the first snows on the peaks.  I will miss the gnarly trails that I run and the wilderness that surrounds me every-time I step on the trail.  I will miss the coffee with my friends and the comfort of knowing what I am doing.  I will be so glad to see my family again and catch up with long-lost friends.  I will be excited to see the history and connection to my past everywhere I go.  I will comforted by the familiarity of the old, whilst seeing it all afresh.

Frankly I will be a complete mental mess for the next 2-3 months.  It's good.  I can do this.  We'll be fine *insane giggle*

If you see a middle-aged woman running around, giggling insanely, with wine in one hand, coffee in the other and a look of complete disorientation  then please deposit her to the Kift household.  They are probably missing a mummy somewhere.