With 2012 still fresh and new, this month’s NorthSouthEastWest: Expat Dispatch examines beginnings from the four corners of the globe. Linda of Adventures in Expat Land (North) explores the moment an expat’s new life starts. Russell, who blogs at In Search of a Life Less Ordinary (South), is dreaming big, and taking an even bigger bite out of 2012. I remember the first time I felt at home in Singapore. And my guest poster, Erica of Expatria, Baby (East) writes of her love of beginnings.
So, get comfortable, pour yourself a glass, and join us in saluting 2012. Many new and wonderful beginnings to all of you.
Beginnings are the best part
by Erica Knecht of Expatria, Baby
You step off the plane not knowing what to expect, who will greet you, and within moments, you and are hit square in the jaw with a new climate. Air, thick with humidity, harbours odours strange and wonderful. This one spicy, this one pungent, and this one, wafting from around the corner, just a little bit terrible. Chaos and crowds jostling, an elbow in your ribs, a teetering bag sits atop your luggage cart, signs held by men in blank stares and white shirts announcing the names of their charges, and then the momentary flash of panic when you feel a bump and wonder if you just lost your wallet to swift fingers and you panic because it holds all your cash and you don’t know where the embassy is and how will you get there anyway because you can’t pay for a taxi, and you try to hide the panic in your eyes as you comb your fingers through your bag, and thank god, everything is right there and you can do this. You can make it. You’ll be fine.
And so you cram your baggage into the back of a dodgy taxi, and take off, weaving in and out of city streets with face pressed up against the window drinking in the newness, the dust and strange vegetation, cars driving on the wrong side of the street, road signs unintelligible, and everything is amazing but still your mind races, and you wonder what will it be like you arrive at the hotel? How will you mange? So you rehearse the greetings you hastily squeezed into your brain as you leafed through the Lonely Planet on the plane and say hello to the driver and mangle it completely but everyone still smiles, and you know that it six months you’ll have it down like it’s no biggie because you can do this.
Later, blitzed by jet lag and unable to sleep, you head for the subway, unsure of where to go, which line was it again, the green one? And you can’t seem to hold the name of the station in your mind because it is so strange and foreign and full of consonants but you want to look confident so you turn left, but oh my lands, where are you? Is this the right way? Should you ask someone? Maybe just follow the lady with the suitcase? And so you walk, pulse in your ears, but then you find yourself and you get on the train and you arrive and your heart steadies finally and you feel good. Alive. You can do this. You can make it here. It’s going to be major.
Soon it’s dinner time and you want something you’ve never tasted before and wonder, “Am I going to regret this six hours from now?” but then you bury those thoughts and tuck in because you’re here, and it’s steaming and hot and and strange and new, so you taste it, and then you discover that the chewy bits are cow tendon but you don’t care because the broth is lusty with spice and what exactly is that flavour? It’s unlike anything and you have no idea how to recreate it in your own kitchen and it’s new new new.
Beginnings are the best part. Two or three years stretch before you like a surprise party full of people you haven’t met yet bearing presents of vistas as of yet unseen, delicacies yet to be tasted. Life is awash with possibility, fresh and dewy, not yet tempered with disappointment, routine, drudgery. Everything is awesome and everything is terrifying. The easiest of tasks, like stepping on the subway or ordering dinner or greeting a new friend are steeped in uncertainty, and you might make a misstep (or a billion) but when you finally manage, and get where you’re going or order what you wanted, you feel so powerful and worldly and accomplished. Beginnings are really the best part. And I as I lift my glass and toast 2012, I will wish you and me many many new beginnings.