"I love it here", I told my new friend. We've become close, in the way that only serial expats can. Friendships burn fast in this world, fuelled by the want of a social network, and the knowledge that bonding with someone, quick and fast, can make or break a posting.
"It's great! I love it! I really love it!"
"Ahhh, but you're still in the honeymoon period," she countered.
We continued on, talking about our shared experiences living on multiple contents, cities multifarious and sundry, the expat adjustment u-curve, the honeymoon period followed by a dark mourning as one laments what one has left behind. Again. Anew?
I was thrown off balance by this conversation. Because I am so happy here and I was so profoundly unhappy in Japan. Is my experience of Jakarta coloured, still, by my status as a newbie? My addiction to surprise and endorphins? My status as a novelty junky? Are these all hiding what will inevitably become oppressive, annoying, and generally negative?
I hope not. From the depths of my everything, I want to stay in love with this place. I'm clinging to my contentment with this new place. I really am. To face three years again of looking everywhere but home, wanting to be anywhere but here, logging miles and miles, going hither and tither, seeking a fleeting, incomplete happiness with my heart in one place and my joy in another. Oh, I just don't want that.
I want to be here, really be here. And I want to like it, warts and all.
Yes, the traffic is horrific. Yes, everything moves at a snails pace. The poverty in the face of staggering wealth, the corruption, disorganisation. It's all here, I know. I don't know, yet, about inundation and endless monsoon days. But I'm not blind to the challenges. I just thing that the good outweighs the bad. I believe, and I'm desperate to be right, that the warmth of the climate and of the people, the angle of the sun at 3:45 in the afternoon, the spice, the liveliness, and the endless surprises will continue to rise up, cream to the top.
I know what I need to be happy in a place. And I think it's all here. Is that enough? Will that sustain me however long we live here?
Will I escape the mourning period, the desperate rage that things here are not like they are at home? Will I be free of culture shock?
Expats, frequent movers, infrequent movers, tell me, what do you think?