What to do when the novelty wears off?
This is the question I didn’t realize I have been asking myself all summer.
What happens after you’ve lived in a new country for a full year, a full four seasons? What happens when you’re no longer the hot new family in the neighborhood? The charming foreigners? The intriguing mystery couple in the red rental house?
What happens when the cultural differences are no longer cute? When the adventure takes back seat to the normal every day demands of life?
What happens when you’re life become less about navigating national landmarks and more about homework? Grocery shopping? Haircuts? Conference calls? Birthday parties? Forms? Soccer practice?
What happens when you suddenly realize you live here; and that it’s time you start living here?
What happens then?
What happens is that you get a little depressed. You find yourself frustrated. Then in a funk. Then frustrated again. Then in a funk. Then you spend a few days longing for your old friends; your old neighborhood; your old book club; your old familiar premium natural foods market just down the street. You long for things you hated “back home”: the mall, the post office, the emergency room at the local hospital.
You wonder if you should move back to New Jersey. Back to Arizona. Back to somewhere that has a premium natural food market.
Somewhere that sells kale.
You wonder if you’re really happy at your job.
You consider getting a hair cut. New glasses.
You cry in the shower.
You blog about it.
something magical happens.
You force yourself to go to a community potluck. You look around and you realize you have friends. Not just one or two. But a few friends. Women and men you can laugh with. And you know exactly which ones you can laugh with!
You realize you don’t have to hide in the corner anymore talking to the one person who will tolerate your pitiful Hebrew. You realize there are a few conversations you could easily interrupt and join. A few people who would be happy you did. A few people who know the right questions to ask you, and care about your answers. A few people who can even smell the funk on you, and ask, “Is everything okay?”
A few people who want to know the truth.
The truth is, when the novelty wears off, you find that the sunset over the reservoir isn’t as AMAZING as it was when you first arrived. You find that the smell from the cow farm isn’t really SO QUAINT and AUTHENTIC. You find that the FARM FRESH eggs actually come from chickens kept in teeny tiny horribly inhumane coops and that despite living on real live farms raised by real live farmers the chickens are treated so poorly they might as well be raised in factories.
The truth is, you realize you didn’t move to a dream. You didn’t move to a Facebook photo album. You didn’t move to a Lifetime movie for women.
You moved to a life.
And one sign that your new life is good is that when the novelty wears off, you’re able to go to a community potluck…and find a friend… and laugh.
Even if there’s no kale.
Jen Maidenberg is a writer, editor, activist and former assistant editor at the Arizona Jewish Post. She posted the above on her blog on Sept. 22, 2012. Visit her website at http://jenmaidenberg.com/