Monday, March 28, 2011

Reality Bytes

Tall Guy and I live "abroad".

We were in a German spa-town where one could shop at an organic farmers market, pray in a stunning cathedral, find hip shoes (even in my size), hike, taste wine, and of course go to the spa.

Now we're in the fast-paced metropolis of London where one can sit quietly and contemplate art, take a high speed train to Paris, spend from 8 to 8000 pounds on a pair of pants, eat food from any country in the world, and top off the day with a cocktail topped with gold flakes (well, if one is rich or royal, anyway).

Sounds like a dream vacation, doesn't it?

Anyway, Tall Guy and I are foreign passport holders,

we have to fly to get to our homes and adjust our watches when we get there,

and we visit museums and take road trips on weekends,


we are not on vacation.

No, we are not on vacation. We are expats. And expats must work and vacuum and grocery shop and go to the gym.

"Oh boo hoo," you say, "I work and vacuum and grocery shop and go to the gym too, what's the difference?"

Well, "pats" work and vacuum and grocery shop and go to the gym, and expats work and vacuum and grocery shop and go to the gym in another culture.

Don't get me wrong: This is not a woe-is-me, poor--little-tall-girl kind of post, not in the least! I know that Tall Guy and I are extremely blessed to have the opportunity to live abroad and get to know different places, and I'm extremely thankful for it. This is just a post touching base with reality, and the reality is that we live here.

We live here: we both worked late on Friday (Tall Guy so late that we had to cancel our date) and Tall Guy worked on Saturday, and... today, we are out of lemons and eggs, the iron is clogged with lime, the Internet people didn't come again,Tall Guy spilled chopped onion all over the floor, I broke a glass, my books are due at the library, I have to return a pair of pants that are too short and sometimes neither of us understand what people are saying. 

We live here: one day I walked all around Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens, we swim together twice a week, we had lunch at home together today (hamburg patties topped with cheddar and mushrooms with a gorgeous spring salad), I still have half of the Saturday paper to read, we're enjoying the spring weather in our private community garden, Strathvegas (a high school friend) and I meet up for shopping and drinks, Tall Guy and I go to the cinema and right now I've got a batch of cookies on the go (watch for the recipe later this week).

The good, the bad, the exploring, the boring: the point is, we do it all, and while this week might have been more "overtime" and "domestic drudgery" than "high flying fun", that's ok, we live here, we can catch that exhibition next week, we'll eat at that new place after the hype has died down and we can get a reservation, we'll check out that new shop tomorrow. Today we'll do laundry, we'll get lemons and eggs, we'll have a quiet evening with a stack of books.

What did you, pat or expat reader, do this weekend? Feel free to share a byte of your reality.


  1. Interesting post. I remember several years ago that a woman from my church choir told me a similar story. She often had to correct family and friends when they referred to their wintering in Florida as vacation. She would tell them it is not a 4 month vacation. We LIVE there. As you said... groceries, laundry, cleaning.

  2. Exactly!

    Whilst living abroad, the expat must sill plan actual vacations... The next Tall Travel will be to Scotland for Easter Break!

  3. hi tall girl -

    you've hit the nail right on the head.

    there are times i still don't understand what people are saying, think that this city moves INSANELY fast (which it does) and wish that things weren't so spread out...

    i like to say to friends at home that i too, have to pick up the drycleaning!

    but then i also get to walk across waterloo bridge at sunset, meet friends for drinks in swanky bars, and enjoy spring a whole month ahead of canada! and that's pretty great...

    this weekend was also a weekend of domesticity - dying a coat and doing wedding prep...

    next weekend is one of those 'london weekends' with engagement photos at london landmarks and fancy birthday dinners...

    personally, i love both kinds of weekends!

  4. mbb., I couldn't agree more - both kinds of weekends are fabulous and essential to leading a balanced expat life!

    Our flat is filled with daffodils at the moment (you really can't beat a bouquet of daffs for a quid for some affordable luxury) and I am loving the lighter evenings (and we've only had two so far!).

    Our weekends seem to be in tandem: I put the house in order last weekend and I'm getting ready to play tour guide for my mom starting next Saturday.

    Looking forward to seeing your great wedding ideas (I loved your party food) and enjoy your birthday celebrations!

  5. Hi Tall Girl,

    I am stopping by from "Made by Brie". I am enjoying your blog(: Nice to meet you.