Random Musings on Life in Albania- Month 6
You know that saying
Wherever you go
There you are
It never really made sense to me…until now.
It has been a little over six months since we landed in this mysterious and complicated land that we truthfully didn’t know existed until last April.
It’s a place unlike any other, “It’s Europe with a touch of the orient”, my Albanian friend told me. “And it’s good for you, Melissa”.
She’s right. It is.
If you ever want to know who you truly are, and have yourself stripped completely bare, move abroad.
You know what I’ve had to learn? You can’t run from yourself. Your thoughts, your problems, your anger, sadness, and pain.
They follow you.
And without your favorite numbing rituals, they can envelop you like a blizzard without a coat. The coldness sharp and biting, forcing you kicking and screaming, to acknowledge them.
A pressure cooker, filled with societal expectations, family problems, cultural identity, crises of “career”, “productivity” and “goals”, all bubbling under the surface, showing you who you are and what you’re made of, forcing you to see what it is YOU actually care about…until finally the lid opens and you find you are still there. But…Changed.
More ready to be open, to embrace the opportunities before you with clearer eyes. Still you. Still a bit lost, but with a better understanding of what You actually means…
I’ve learned to slow down and breathe through the anxiety that has been my nefarious companion for years.
I now actually enjoy walking to the grocery store every day or two and picking out fresh food. Gone are the days of our once a month Costco hauls and expensive, “healthy” frozen convenience foods bought to fill our stressful, busy lives and ease my guilt.
Now, our Fshtati (village) bread from the bakery lasts for a day, maybe two. Our strawberries for maybe three. And we enjoy every bite.
I don’t order my cappuccino in a “takeaway” cup anymore. It’s finally happened. I’ve learned to sit and feel the sun on my face in my favorite spot in our neighborhood cafe while watching William play in the play area. Not worrying about time. We stay for as long as we want. Until we’re done.
We went to the beach last weekend and found seaglass for Grandma. The kids were so happy, so content. Excited about each new color... “Its aqua”, William squealed while Scarlett calmly searched for the, “Emerald” ones.
Walking barefoot as the cold waves crashed across our ankles, I felt at peace. Content in the discomfort while appreciating the beauty. I barely noticed the looks of shocked Albanians as we braved the cold water on the very first day of March.
We have found our favorite spots for brunch, the best akullore (ice cream) in town, and the absolute BEST wood fired pizza.
We’ve discovered our favorite parks, places to play, walks to take, and Sunday drives.
We often spend our breaks and weekends exploring, passports packed, border crossings, and security guards the new normal. Always planning for the next adventure.
I have found friends I can laugh, commiserate, and ugly cry with. We have people we care about and those who care about us.
We are lucky.
So here I am. Here we are. It’s spring now.