I wish everyone I knew could have the opportunity to live abroad for an extended period of time. As regular readers of Pamwrites know, I’ve been fortunate to have become something I never dreamed I would, a world traveller. And I am endlessly grateful to my hard-working husband and to his employer, Marquette University, who have made these trips possible. But there is a HUGE difference, I assure you, from traveling to a foreign place and living there for an extended period of time.
Probably the most important thing I’ve learned from my travels is that a “good” traveler learns both patience and flexibility. (At one time in my life, I was a very happy teacher of seventh and eighth graders. Patience and flexibility are also necessary to teach that age group. ) Adjusting to life in Glasgow has been bumpy at times (see Reasonable Expectations) — we had a snafu with our first flat and have ongoing issues still being resolved at our new flat, but, they are being resolved. Today I will sit and wait for the plumber to come and replace the kitchen tap — and hopefully I will stop feeling like I need to wear a raincoat to wash the dishes. I do wish I didn’t have to wait inside though — the sun is shining and the sky is a bright blue and I’d love to be out there exploring more of this fine city. Back in the United States, for all the things we’ve been coping with here, I would have expected a return of part of our deposit. In fact, I would have demanded it. But, apparently here, that’s not allowed. So, I’ve requested a reduction of the rent as compensation for the inconvenience, and will wait — patiently, I hope — for a response.
What else requires patience? Many, many things. As a spoiled American, I’m used to having questions answered promptly and solutions arrived at quickly too. It can be a day or two (or never) before I hear back from anyone at the leasing agency. Customer service doesn’t seem to be a priority there. When I’m out and about, wifi works sometimes, sometimes not at various coffee shops — I’m used to it working at all my favorite haunts back in Wauwatosa. At the grocery stores, it takes time to learn where to find things that look familiar, where to find things we want to try, how to handle the money. (I am terribly slow at learning the value of the coins. It’s embarrassing, but I’m getting better.) It takes patience to learn the different costs of things – the Council Tax is what???
This morning, in a Julia Cameron moment of synchronicity, I woke up thinking about a line in a story I was revising yesterday. A WWII veteran is home, recovering from a leg injury. He’s frustrated by his inability to do much of anything and his mother urges him to have patience, but he’s annoyed at how she says it — at how her Polish accent (which he never thought about before the war) mangles it into “pah-shunz.” I have no idea why that popped into my head on awakening, but then, not long after, when I sat down with my bible and my lightbox on, my reading this morning was from Psalm 40, vs 1. “I waited patiently for the Lord; he inclined to me and heard my cry.” RSV Don’t worry – I’m not going to preach on Psalm 40. It’s just a line I will be pondering today — and reflecting on with gratitude.
Relationships of any kind require patience. If you’ve lived successfully with anyone else for an extended period of time, you know exactly what I mean. I’m a slob by nature. My husband has had to learn patience to deal with that. I’m okay with clutter — in fact, I think I need a certain amount of it. If things are too perfect and too in place, I feel like a little girl at my Grandma Parker’s house and I’d better not touch anything. Now at Grandma Moulton’s house, things were a little looser and a lot more comfortable for me! My creative brain reacts negatively to excessive order. But, if there’s a little pile of paper here and a little stack of books there and maybe a map of the city out on the table along with a calendar and a cup of tea and a wallet and an open bible, well, that’s a sign of things happening and I’m on my way. In fact, my work space this morning looks like this — and yes, that is laundry hanging near a space heater on the other side of the couch —
That’s how I roll.
Building new relationships also requires patience. It was easier in some ways to make friends when I was in Germany because I had two people magnets with me — a six month old and a three year old. There’s nothing quite like little ones to attract others. But here I am alone. My husband goes to work at the university and it’s challenging meeting others. I’ve been to a knitting group once – and I liked it very, very much, but I had to miss it this week (waiting for a delivery that has yet to arrive) and will miss it next week when we’re away. I have met an American professor and we had plans yesterday, that I had to miss, while waiting for that same delivery that has yet to arrive. Did I mention I was working on patience?
Patience and trust.
Patience and trust that all will work out — somehow — for the good. That when you happen through George’s Square in Glasgow on a rainy Robert Burns Day, the sun will shine at the right moment and you will see this:
And, you will believe that people do make Glasgow, because it’s true.
And, who can’t smile when they see a good rainbow?
May you be patient with yourself today in whatever ways you need to.