Sometimes I want to write, so I sit down to do it and I can’t. This can happen for any number of reasons, but usually it’s because I feel bored or sad. Anger and disappointment are pretty easy to write about, but to do so regularly just turns into a bunch of rants or a bunch of whining. And no one likes an angry non-Presidential rant (not that the rest of us can figure out what anyone sees in those aside from comedic value), and no one likes someone who is just whining all the time. Or someone nagging all the time, since to be fair, I guess different people express disappointment in different ways.
Regardless, I almost didn’t write today. This morning was too busy and hectic, and I got a bunch of stuff done that needed to get done, faster and earlier than usual. I went to the post office, brought a form to be filed at a government office, and came home and got some work done. Nothing too bad there either, just tying up some loose ends, so I didn’t have to deal with any of those more… ahem, particular, types of people online today.
(Sidenote: setting up my life abroad in different places, I’ve gotten used to engaging with about 8 different government offices on the regular in each and every one of them, so I’ll have to elaborate on that in a later post, because let’s just say that the DMV is kid stuff at this point… even though it’s still somehow a much more awful, dehumanizing and inefficient experience than most of the ones outside the US.)
So I almost didn’t write anything. I’m tired, grumpy, and a bit crampy, and I don’t want to just whine about that (or anything) with this blog. But that does quite defeat the purpose of having a blog to write in every single damn day if I don’t do it regardless. I am very lucky in that I have a loving partner and a good life and a great dog and we live on this beautiful Mediterranean Island in a house with a view. And I don’t want to complain about any of that. But this is also the cause of some of my sadness, or at least greatly contributes to it, since living in a rural village (population 1000) on an island that is only 67 km² (25.87 mi²) can be stifling.
For comparison by size, smallest to largest:
- Rochester, NY: 59.77 km² (23.08 mi²)
- Buffalo, NY: 136 km² (52.51 mi²)
- Helsinki, Finland: 184.5 km² (71.22 mi²)
- Raleigh, North Carolina: 370 km2 (142.8 mi²)
- Toronto: 630.2 km² (243.3 mi² )
- Berlin, Germany: 891.8 km² (344.3 mi²)
- New York City: 783.8 km² (302.6 mi²)
- Los Angeles: 1,302 km² (502.7 mi²)
- Istanbul: 1,539 km² (594.2 mi²)
- London, UK: 1,572 km² (607 mi²)
It’s beautiful… but it’s also kind of lonely. I’m no Thoreau, much as I’d like to be. I’m hardly able to run errands a few days in a row without spraining an ankle on the hills, or at least straining one. Also, we both work from home full-time, but my partner works twice the hours I do, and it is his work that dictates a lot about our location and lifestyle. Since I work less, I do more of the household chores and take care of our pupper. It’s getting to be a lot more work than it was just a year ago. He is such a dashing, yet odd looking pup, and his short legs and long stocky frame have given the poor boy some hip problems and pain in his dotage. He is such an amazing dog though:
I am lucky and privileged and blessed to live the way I do. But I am also so so so incredibly lonely. Some evenings while he’s working late, I sit in front of my computer and just cry a bit… then I knuckle down and keep working. There’s not much else to do. We keep different hours than our neighbors and the locals (most of whom are so very welcoming and kind! I think Malta in general has a bad rep for xenophobia… it’s not nearly as bad as most of rural Western New York, though to be fair that is a super low bar).
And even the local grocery store opens at 5 am and closes at 1 pm. Then it opens from 4:30 pm to 7 pm… 6 days a week. Since I grew up in a large Catholic family I get that there are families here and they all know each other and have been living here for generations upon generations, and we are outsiders.
There are some other outsiders here too, in spades! But most of them are tourists, or English pensioners who are mostly very kind and sweet, but a little condescending. Ex. I do not need an explanation of the right kind of cream to use in every conceivable cooking and/or baking situation whilst I am doing my shopping at Lidl (a supermarket, with better hours than the local one, but three times as far and with an abundance of loud German tourist and English pensioner patrons, and apparently a serious dearth of cream varieties: they only offer the shelf stable vegan kind, the shelf stable cooking kind in a box, and cans of the shelf stable Reddi Whip type dessert topping that doesn’t need to be refrigerated until you open it).
I have made one friend, and she’s quite sweet, in her late 20s from France. But we are both always working, and I expect she’ll be leaving soon since she also finds it quite dull and really misses the land where she’s from. For me, it’s especially bad on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday evenings. When in Buffalo, on Monday and Wednesday I used to attend potlucks with my friends at their housing co-ops, and Thursday I used to play DnD with a small campaign in one of their basements… it was a creaky old house, so it felt like we were playing DnD in an actual dungeon, too.
In Rochester I used to spend those same evenings going to meet ups, board game nights, or just doing my homework at the local Gay Café, Equal=Grounds, which was right around the corner from my tiny apartment. A nice little coincidence that.
And, I used to see those same groups of people those days and on Saturday and/or Sunday afternoons, taking part in different community volunteer initiatives or just shooting the shit over a cup of tea (or rather, an herbal infusion, as opposed to the English black tea). It was nice to always have a group where I felt I belonged, since I really hadn’t had one of those since I broke my ankle and couldn’t keep working at Girl Scout Camp… which of course was only in the summer.
There were messy parts in between of course, and in the moment it didn’t lend much to the consideration of my future (now current) nostalgia. But since now it’s now going on three years since I moved abroad and stopped having that social structure, I am starting to really miss that aspect of having community, in ways I’d never realized I would.