DISCLAIMER: This post is mostly me
So, I find it kind of amusing how in some ways, we prepared so minimally for this trip. Of course, we spent a long time saving and working through all the logistics of putting our American life on hold. We are pretty proud of everything we did in that department. (Maybe just don’t ask our parents and our condo manager how much work they are in fact doing while we are gone….THANKS YOU GUYS!!!)
But in other ways, we went flying into this adventure blind. For example, I’m pretty sure all the missionaries we volunteer with had psychological testing before they came to Moldova. Which begs the question: are Daniel and I even psychologically fit to be here?! [Don’t answer that please.] The missionaries also had training on the stages of adjustment and culture shock when moving to a new country. There apparently are designated “hard” months during the adjustment to living abroad….something like months 2 and 6….I’m not really sure. Like I said: flying blind people.
Lately, I’m not sure if I am finally experiencing the negative effects of culture shock, or if I’m just sad about some things. There are so many pieces that factor into my daily mood – both transient and more profound. But because I have a short memory, my daily mood often feels like THE MOST INTENSE FEELING THAT I MAY HAVE ONLY HAD FOR 5 MINUTES BUT I AM SURE THIS IS THE NEW REALITY FOR THE REST OF MY LIFE. So am I just annoyed that Daniel ate the last cookie or am I frustrated with the deeper issue that almost all the snacks here are super sugary and it is near impossible to find a good granola bar?? (“Poor Daniel” my Dad would again say about this).
All this to say, I think most of the negative feelings that have been cropping up lately have less to do with Moldovan culture (ie culture shock) and more to do with how far away I am from the people I love. And in particular, the people I love who are experiencing big and hard things right now. The caretaker in me wants to be there. My friend Michelle and I have noted that we both love on each other in the same way: by giving small gifts that are actually useful. I think it’s the nurse in us. For example, Michelle would bring me a delicious coffee of my choice at home before I would go in for a night shift at work and we would chat for 15 minutes. She would leave and I would feel caffeinated and loved.
Well, right now Michelle is hospitalized for the duration of her pregnancy for frequent monitoring. AND WTF – WHY AM I IN MOLDOVA WHEN I SHOULD BE DELIVERING SNACKS AND MAGAZINES AND CHECKING IN ON HER FREQUENTLY??? Likewise, my Babci isn’t doing very well. It wasn’t unforeseen, but it doesn’t make it any easier to handle when I am far away. Don’t tell Daniel…but in the back of my mind, I am calculating plane ticket prices just in case Michelle really needs a decaf chai latte that only I can bring her….or Babci really just needs a hug from me specifically. You know – buy an $800 ticket, pop back to the states for a hot minute, and return to Moldova before Daniel even knows what hit him….except for when he checks our bank account and finds $800 missing. Do you think I can blame it on shady Moldovan banking practices and we can together tackle the resulting culture shock of corruption in this country? 😉 [For some interesting reads on Moldovan bank corruption, check out this BBC article, or just read this Wikipedia article.]
So this is where I’m at right now. Too many feelings and too many miles of separation. Perhaps there is some lesson to learn from this aspect of living abroad. I’m not quite sure what it is at this point in time, because somehow it feels like journeying afar is so right and yet sometimes it feels so wrong.
I am going to quote the end of a Christmas letter we just received from super good friends currently living on the west coast. They are mostly badass PhD geniuses with big hearts and expansive outlooks on life. I leave every interaction with them feeling both peaceful and eager.
“We’ve been talking about how home, for us, might be stretched across both the past and the present…home is growing here, but it’s rooted in all of the great places and great people where we’ve lived before. So thank you, homes-from-afar.”