This weekend I have a shower to attend, I know the mom to be but I don’t know anyone else. The mom, Sally is moving to France to be with the baby’s father in Paris, not only do I have to figure out what I can give as a portable present, I have to figure out what to wear! (Emma if your reading this please help!).
I don’t really know Sally very well, I met her last fall at a screening for a film my sweetie worked on – she and I hit it off, we had lunch and had a great time chatting, then she and her baby-daddy had us over for dinner in the New Year (amazing meal, the man can cook!). I like her very much and am disappointed that I met her just before her big move to Paris – although selfishly I now have a friend to hang with next time I’m in gay-Paris!
I was having lunch with another friend of mine and this party came up in conversation, I was telling him that I was a little nervous since I really don’t know anyone and he very calmly said to me “well your really good in situations like that, you’ll be fine”. High praise, but I’m still nervous. It’s stepping outside my comfort zone – I’m sure by the end of the party I’ll be comfortable with everyone and be sad to leave but the initial 10 minutes will be a little nerve-wracking.
A few years ago my husband, who has become very successful in his industry, started getting offers for jobs outside the country. Over the past few years he’s worked in Holland, Brazil, Belgium and France and there’s a chance of more travel in the near future. He spends months in these countries working. What this has ment for me is that I spend a lot of time by myself at home and I get to visit him for a small slice of time in these wonderful places.
I’ve been lucky enough in the countries he’s worked in, that either I speak the language or there are people there who speak mine. I did have one instance when I was in Brazil, I decided to take a few days and go surfing, this involved me getting on a plane and flying to a beautiful island call Florianopolis in the Santa Catarina region of Brazil. The guy who booked my trip spoke English and so did the instructor however I was only with the instructor for 2 hours a day and the tour guy had other tours to look after. No one else spoke English here like they did in Sao Paulo. I have to admit I called my husband in a panic – poor guy he does spend a bit of his time talking me down from the ledge….he’s getting very good at it!
I’m an only child so I’m used to spending quite a bit of time alone – I actually need it. There are times when I love being with my friends, I love spending time with my family but I crave time to myself. It’s been a real education the past few years, because I do spend time by myself everyone assumes that I’m ok with it, even my husband, which is not always the case.
Needless to say that over the years I’m becoming more comfortable doing things and being places by myself. I go to the movies by myself. I went to Hawaii on a surf/yoga retreat where I met some fabulous women who I’ve remained friends with to this day. I’ve had to get over my fear of doing things alone, lucky enough in most of the countries I’ve had my husband to spend my evenings with so I’m really just on my own for the day.
I’m smart enough to know that with his job I can’t wait for him to do things with me all the time and if I want to see something or do something I have to screw up my courage and make it happen. People talk to me, strangers, I don’t know if I have that kind of face or if I put out some kind of vibe but I get talked to no matter where I am – which is ok in some countries (not so much in Paris if you are a polite Canadian and don’t know how to get rid of the boy trying to pick you up), because people talk to me I find out amazing things, good places to eat and see, in some cases I’ve made friends.
In Brazil 1 of the assistants gave me the name and number of a friend of her’s in Floripa (as the locals call it) he spoke English and would be happy to meet me. I screwed up my courage and called him – a tough thing to do if you don’t know someone – arranged to meet him. Am I EVER glad I did!
Leo and his wife Karina (who doesn’t speak English) were absolutely charming – picking me up at my hotel taking me back to their place for dinner – it was wonderful! Leo even took me sight seeing the next day. They now have a baby who’s a year old and they keep asking me when I’m coming back to see them. I”ve also kept in touch with the guy who booked my surf tour…..always a good one to have for that emergency surf trip! I met them because I stepped out of my comfortable place and was rewarded richly for it.
Last year, while in Paris, I decided that I was so close to London and my husband was working so much that I would go to London to visit my friend Nikki for a few days. I hadn’t seen her in 10 years I hadn’t met her youngest son and her oldest was just a baby the last time I was there. I packed my bags and said good-bye to my sweetie, off I went to find the Euro-Train.
On the train from Paris to London I met an American woman whose husband was working in Paris for a pharmaceutical company we began to talk and I found out they were moving to Moscow – he was being transferred – although I haven’t keep really close contact with her we have become Facebook pals.
Nik and her husband picked me up at the station, they live about a 40 minute train ride east of London (outer London). I had arrived mid-week and Nikki has a job at her youngest son’s school. I decided rather than hang around the house and wait for them to come home and amuse me, I would catch the train and go into London and take one of those double-decker bus tours. I had a great time in the 3 days I spent with them and saw a lot of wonderful things that I’m looking forward to going back to explore.
It was Valentines day when we were in Paris. I spent a wonderful 2 weeks (with the pit stop to London) walking around, seeing all the amazing things that I’d only read about. I got to go to the Louvre, saw the Mona Lisa, Venus de Milo and the Marley Horses as well as the other wonderful things that it has to offer. I told my husband one of my “goals” was to be kissed on the top of the Eiffel tower – I would prefer it to be him but if he didn’t get the time I wasn’t gonna be picky!! In Paris if you look like a tourist and your on your own there are a lot of young men willing to show you around their city! Lucky enough he had our last day in Paris off, we went to the Louvre I showed him the highlights, I got my kiss, from him on the top of the Eiffel tower (much prefered!) he bought me a beautiful bracelet with a Eiffel tower charm as a remembrance. We had our last dinner in Paris at the famous Cafe Flore where we saw Kate Hudson and Owen Wilson having drinks not 3 tables away from us.
I feel bad for him though because he gets to go to these wonderful places to work and they work him 6 days a week he hardly has time to do any sightseeing or even do his laundry – the 1st thing I did in both Brussels and Paris was laundry! Even when he extends his stay they manage to work him to the last possible second.
I’ve mentioned our wonderful little cottage in PEI a lot in this blog. It’s on 6 acres of land in the south-east part of the island. Last year I was lucky enough to spend 2 months there with our girls. In the middle of the 2 months my husband had to come back to Toronto to work on a project – it was only supposed to be for a week to a week and a half. It stretched into 3 weeks. Now that was really wierd – I’ve spent time alone in our house in the city but the cottage is very isolated and the neighbours were not to be found for the 1st two weeks. My friends Al and Claudette were on the east coast and spend a few days on PEI relaxing and boy was I glad to see them – warning them that I had been by myself for some time and I was a little needy!
Once again I was outside my comfort zone staying by myself with no one else around my only friend on the island lives in Charlottetown a 45 min drive away. You learn a lot about yourself when you do things like this or do something outside that comfort zone.
I’ve learned that I’m quite capable of handling myself in a foreign country, I’ve decided that I’m NEVER going to another country without having some rudimentary knowledge of the language – where’s the bathroom is a VERY important phrase! I’ve learned that not all people are assholes and some people just want to help you (although, watch out for the assholes!).
I’ve learned that I can do it on my own, and the adventure is worth it, but that if I have the choice I would rather do it with my husband so that he can share in the adventure. It’s been very freeing to learn these things about myself, it’s funny when you’re a kid your always with your parents or friends or siblings if you have them, but to do something on your own is very liberating.
Next on the travel agenda is another country where I can surf – I’m going to have to start practicing the language, I’m sure there will be a few days of me off on my own exploring the country, the thought terrifies me and thrills me and I can’t wait to step once again outside my comfort zone.
Dream Big and take small steps!