Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Aussie wisdom

One of my husband's best friends, an Australian called PG, has a theory about women. "Maaate," he drawls, "All women go mad in their late thirties and early forties,". 

I am on the brink of entering my late thirties, 37 is just around the corner. I suppose I could drag it on until I am 37 and a half before finally admitting to myself that I am in my late thirties, but who heard of a grown up telling people how old she is to the quarter year? I could also tell them how many of my baby teeth have fallen out at the same time. I guess I will just have to accept it, age gracefully and try not to go completely mad.

Yesterday I definitely dallied with late-thirties-syndrome having  a serious wibble about living in Almaty and feeling decidedly miserable for the whole morning. I ended up blubbing at the doctor when she asked me if I felt stressed (I have been getting recurring tummy aches for no apparent reason). It hadn't occurred to me until that point that perhaps I did, and once she asked me, the water works were unstoppably on. Quite embarrassing. "Sorry," I snivelled, "I don't know what is the matter with me. I've been moving for 10 years, this is my 5th country. I can do this, I know how to live abroad. For god's sake, I spend heaps of my time counselling new girls on how to successfully cope with living abroad. Do you think I am getting cancer?" Even as I said this, half my brain was looking askance and muttering to itself "This is not normal behaviour, is it, Gail?"

She patiently listened, having obviously seen pathetic heaps of expat ladies crying before. Then suggested I should go back to the UK for some R&R and to have a break. Not such a simple option with a husband working 7 days a week and three children. Nice idea but not one I will be taking up at the moment I think. 

I feel so cross with myself for being so pathetic. I honestly don't have anything to complain about. OK, Hello magazine is not widely available here, you can't get marmite and there are wild dogs roaming the streets, but it is not as if I live in the heart of Africa surrounded by Tsetse-infested flies, and machete-wielding mercenaries. But then again, I firmly believe one shouldn't compare oneself or one's situation with the lowest common denominator. 

I went and wept on husband in the office for 20 minutes (for once, he didn't ask if I was about to come on, very unusual!). He can't really understand what it is that is bothering me and I can't really say that I do either. 

Doctor says that as one gets older, you start to want things to be a bit more stable and easy. Maybe it is just that the charm of living abroad is wearing off. I am not sure. I still love living abroad. But whereas in our twenties we were tasting the exotic delights of Brazil and acclimatizing to a different beat that involved music, sunshine, beautiful people and a gorgeous language, moving here has been about working your way through the initially surly, soviet attitudes in a city that at the moment is covered in muddy, icy slush; going to zelony bazaar with all its fabulous Tajik fruit sellers, piles of meats, awesome embroidered slippers etc but never knowing how much you should really pay for anything, freezing cold and with those sad old crones trying to sell you larger bags for 5p and veg sellers trying to fob you off with the old crap stuff from behind the display unless you pull them up every time. 

I hope I can make it through the next few years with my head intact, and disprove PG's theory. I spent yesterday having a really good sort out of an as-yet-unpacked bit of the house, and already feel much better. 

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