“People like an ending.” – Kubo and the Two Strings
I’ve thought, overthought, and then thought about it some more – and I’ve made my mind up. And just so no one can accuse me of burying the lead: it’s lights out at Little City Towers.
Dust off the bugle, boys: it’s time for the last post.
First and foremost, being ringmaster of the Little City circus was always supposed to be fun. Writing a post should never be on the same to do list as renewing your car insurance or taking your idiot cat to the vet.
But as the good ship Little City sails further and further away from where it started – cheap therapy for the newbie expat parent – it becomes harder to continue on the journey.
It’s not just about getting my blogging mojo back – but the full on demands of my day job make it increasingly hard. On weekdays, my role in family life is typically that some visiting authoritarian figure, arriving home just in time to reinforce whatever law Mrs LC has already laid down, before putting the kids to bed.
It’s hardly the stuff from which blogging gold™ is spun.
Content-wise, it also feels like right time to stop. Unbelievably, Kid A is – despite my deep denial – on the verge of regenerating, Doctor Who-stylee, into Teen A. For some bloggers, this would be the moment to double down and blog harder, chronicling the freewheeling rollercoaster joy ride* that is parenting a teen.
But I find myself ever more aware of the need to give her some privacy, virtual or otherwise, which definitely makes my decision easier.
So I’m stopping now and explaining what I’m doing, unlike so many other ghost blogs that just hang there, their latest post inexorably aging, with no send-off or farewell.
Will I miss it? Of course I will; it’s been a beacon of sanity for me; an outlet to help me shape and share my thoughts.
As Ol’ Blue Eyes put it: “Regrets, I’ve had a few. But then again, too few to mention.” On the whole, the experience has absolutely been worth it: like those rare occasions when a thought appeared on-screen exactly as it had started life in my head; or when a difficult situation or challenging circumstances I’d written about was shared, echoed or resolved by you lot out there.
Along the way I’ve made virtual connections, actual friends and taken so many photos of the back of my children’s heads (look, here’s another one!) I’ve almost forgotten what they actually look like.
I’ve chronicled the past four years in a way that I hope captured the ever-spinning tombola of emotions that is life as an expat family.
As parents, we all try to ensure a continuation from our generation to the next – of traditions, shared values, attitudes – through what are rapidly-changing times.
Because my kids live in a different world to me, just as I did to my parents. My mum didn’t leave the UK till she was around 20. I remember feeling decidedly hard done by that it took me until I was 15 to travel outside of Europe. And now my son has been living in the Middle East since he was 5.
No doubt his kids will be screwing their faces up in incredulity that he never left Earth until he was 60.
Once More With Feeling
What, then, have I learned from the experience? (By which I mean expat life, as opposed to blogging, which I discovered is harder than it sounds, but that being part of a community – virtual or geographic – helps enormously.)
Expat life veers from life-changing to soul-destroying and back again, often in the course of the same day. Is it for everyone? Possibly not; but if you have ever even vaguely entertained the notion of giving it a go, what’s the worst that can happen?
In my experience, the expats who struggle with the experience are those who – and it doesn’t matter where they’re from, or where they’ve moved to – see it as a detour from their ‘real life’, something to be endured or seen out, before returning to normal.
Because this is normal. We have commutes and bills and deadlines and after-school clubs, just like you.
(Although to be fair it’s not exactly the same here. Back in the UK in the summer we were our way to an overnight stay in a Travelodge – a chain of budget hotels. Cue my expat son piping up from the back seat: “Will the hotel have valet parking?”)
The UK was – and seems to still be – busy tearing itself in two about the thorny subject of immigrants. Viewed from afar, it seems an embarrassing argument to be having.
The main difference between expats and immigrants is one of intentions: an immigrant intends to acquire a new nationality, while an expat doesn’t. Despite that, however, our motives are the same.
We’ve all wrenched ourselves away from family, friends, a way of life we know and understand, and swapped every part of our lives, all at once, just to try to give our families a better chance in the future. It’s a universal sentiment.
Exit Planet Dust
I’ll still be pondering and debating such matters even once I’ve stopped blogging. But for now though, it means saying ma’a salama to sharing with you. It means the end of the road for the “work in progress” file on my PC, which has been home to all my half-drafted ideas and thought-scraps for the past four years.
I’ve just had a wistful flick through it, and there’s – let’s see – about 11,500 words I’ve put down at one point or another that won’t now see the light of day…like this crazy factoid I was hoping to shoehorn into a post one day:
The Japanese embassy in Paris has a special 24-hour hotline for Japanese visitors who can develop debilitating psychological problems because the city is not as nice as they imagined it to be. (It’s an advanced form of culture shock, known as Paris syndrome).
If you want to use that as the starting point for a post of your own, feel free.
I had also made a note of some words – new to me, at least – that capture a feeling or state I didn’t know existed. I had hoped there would be a post’s-worth of theme one day, but nope.
- Like: xeric – ‘adapted to a dry environment’.
- Or: heliophilia – ‘an attraction to sunlight’.
Which is probably as good as place to leave it as any. The sun is cooling; the ‘outdoor’ months lie ahead and it’s time to get some much-needed vitamin D into my system.
How To Disappear Completely
Like a blathering actor at an awards acceptance speech (“Gather!”) I know there will be things I’ll wish I’d said before I shuffled off stage, all of which will no doubt arrive fully-formed in my head the moment I press publish.
So let me try and pre-empt that by thanking everyone who’s visited, lurked, read, replied, commented and shared.
You’ve been funny, encouraging, occasionally rude and often helpful – it’s been a pleasure popping up in your inboxes and feeds over the years. I will miss you in ways that would make for an excellent post…but no. I’m done.
It’s time to turn off the Bright Lights.
*May not contain joy.