… and I’ve vowed to write. Not just about the things that are awry. Not just about what is remiss. But also about what isn’t. Life is strange. I’ve read somewhere that life always gives you what you need and not necessarily what you want.
I moved to Europe from Australia with the naive belief that most of the ‘Western’ world spoke English and that my life experiences had taught me enough to at least live in any country in the world. I also didn’t consider the weather. Needless to say these oversights came to bite me in the rear end. I experienced first hand the frustration of not being able to communicate and the alienation that comes with it. The feeling of hitting a brick wall with everything you need to do, pay at the supermarket, take a tram to the city, take a train to the airport, open a bank account or get a panadol. But these are nothing compared to the alienation of now knowing what is happening around you. What are people laughing at, why am I stuck in the middle of a protest at the station or a religious rally that I didn’t know was even on! I never had cash on me, spoiled as I was by the ‘EFTPOS’ culture of New Zealand or the umpteen ATMs in Australia. You haven’t known hunger till you’re food-less and cashless on a Sunday evening, because you forgot that supermarkets are closed on Sundays and the kebab shop only takes cash and it is snowing. I still fondly remember the guy at the shop who just told me to take the food and pay him whenever, or not. As time went by things became more familiar and people started responding positively to this brown girl who tried to speak broken Flemish or French. The frustration of not understanding the social, political or medical system still remains.
Four years later we upped and moved to an even smaller town. And I suddenly realised what some Indian girls who get married and move to the USA must feel like. It was strange this feeling of fear. Not wanting to leave the house without the husband in tow. Not understanding how to use a bank card or finding the way home. Not being able to read signs, ingredients, directions. Not being able to ask a question of a stranger.
It surprised me. And scared me. And that is when I realised what my years have taught me. To suck it up and do it anyway!
Courage is not the absence of fear but the judgement that something else is more important than fear.