So you know that feeling when you crest the top of a roller coaster? That instant, a tiny smidge of time, just as you start to get going, and you just know that there is nothing you can do but hang on. And you feel like you are moving in slow motion but you know its all about to change.
It is not lost on me that I have no clue what its like to be an expat. Well. Not entirely true because I lived in the States for a few years. But not a REAL expat. An overseas expat. But I’ve always wanted to be one so I guess that means I’m on the right path. I guess. Still, I keep checking in with myself, and I’m trying to be present, despite the whirlwind circling my head. Here’s what I found out today.
I saw a very dear friend whom I have not seen in, oh, more than a year. But nothing’s changed. Well, ok, everything’s changed. But you know what I mean. I have spent the majority of my life in the hotel business. My best friend lives in Canmore. I have never needed physical proximity to maintain relationships. So in that regard, this move will not make a dent. Although I am SURE I will get lonely and miss people. And I am sure a 7 hour time difference will put a dent in the 957 minutes I spend on the phone to Alberta every month. (Oh, I’m not exaggerating on that number either). But really, I don’t see a lot of my friends all that often. So things should hold steady there.
The real change, however, will come hard and fast. I’ve just come back from Marrakech so the sights and sounds are familiar. The air, the heat, the food, the damn bank machine which refused to be my friend. The crazy driving, the trains, the pharmacies, the plumbing, the sand, the medina, all of it is still fresh in my mind.
This afternoon I drove my pretty new Audi along the 6 lane Gardiner Expressway into downtown Toronto. Right in to King and Adelaide, the heart of downtown where I spent 7 years of my life. In the heart of it. Having lunch at Earl’s, with my Louis Vuitton bag and diamond ring, watching bored faces having lunch with colleauges. It was probably on my last trip to this exact restaurant, one table over, when my lunch mate said, “Oh, there goes Jim Flaherty.” Parking 3 levels down amongst the commuters with parking passes, paying $30 for the priviledge, and then getting in line for the return journey in rush hour (3 pm) while talking on my cars’ bluetooth and then listening to satellite radio. Knowing I have had $5 in my wallet for the last 7 days and not needing to go to an ATM cause ….cashless society.
Yup. There’s my benchmark. I could not have been farther away from my immediate future if I had been on Mars. Toronto to Marrakech. Free health care to a country that has 1 doctor for every 2,900 people. Luxury cars to camels. Fancy hand soap and tv screens in the bathroom stalls to paying for toilet paper, if you’re lucky. Cold (f*%ing cold) fall air to warm and then hot, desert air. Fresh tap water to bottled. Bank card tapping to all cash all the time.
But you know what? I CAN’T WAIT. Three major obstacles have fallen away in the last 24 hours. I just have to work out a couple more things and I’m ready to book a flight.