Thursday, December 19, 2013

The expat roller coaster

I haven't written anything in a while because in the last few months the family embarqued on a trip to the expat amusement park, only without the amusement part.
I often think I have a good life. My family is healthy, the kids are happy, we leave in a nice sunny place Cyprus, we are not struggling financially.
Larnaca, Cyprus

BUT when you look closely into the facts, things are not quite as good as they seem:

Separation. For various reasons described here 1,2 years ago I left Russia but my husband still works and lives in Moscow. On a good week, he spends about 36 hours with us. On a bad week, he isn't here at all. Last month due to visa complications we didn't see him for over 20 days. And then when he finally made it, it felt kind of strange to have him in the house. It wasn't his fault, he is a perfect husband and father. It's just I am used to being alone, having my own rules and routines and  here it is another person appears, with his own ideas about how things should be and start changing my rhythm.

Uncertainty about the future is probably the biggest struggle I experienced lately. When you are an expat like my husband, you usually have a contract for 2 to 5 years to work in a remote location (Russia)and after that the company is supposed to find you something else. Couple of months ago a headhunter approached my husband for a job in a new company. He wasn't looking for anything but the job seemed really good and his current company uncertain about  his future. He applied, interviewed and got an offer. He informed his bosses that he is leaving and suddenly everyone thought "wait the minute, we don't want him to leave". They offered him the option to stay and apply for a job he really wanted to have. He then dropped the external offer and decided to stay at his current company.

2 months went by without any news. 2 days ago he got informed that they found a cheaper external candidate for the role and they will hire that person. Mind you, my husband dropped a great external offer&salary increase, and they did not even interview him. Just like that, they hired someone else. There are no other ways to describe this but being majorly screwed over. Why did they stop him of accepting the external offer on a first place? He is already in a hardship location, Russia for nearly 3,5 years and we as a family apart for over a year. He has done everything he can for his company, even found and trained his successor. Why not just let him go??

What is next?
We are now back to square one. We don't know where in the world we are going to live 3 months from now. I don't know where my children are going to have their first school year. I don't know when I am going to live together with my husband again.

Of course there will be jobs he can get in his company, but after waiting so long and going into so much hardship he shall not settle for just about any job. After all we both invested in his career so much, including sacrificed mine. And then..
Being an expat one you often think about one day going back "home"? But...
Where is home?
Home is not Moscow where we lived for 2 years but it never really felt like home, yet all our things are still in Moscow. 
Not Holland where I haven't lived in 6,5 years, yet our house is still there. 
Not Bulgaria, because I haven't lived there for 12 years, but that's where I come from. 
It's not Portland, Oregon where we lived for 3 years, but that's where most our friends are. 
and it's not Cyprus where I live now, although this place does feel like home. 

I have no regrets of the choices we made. But life hasn't been easy, it isn't now and I don't think it will ever be. Greatest thing is we enjoy change and are not afraid of moving around. One day I hope we get to live in Asia. But anywhere works really.

One thing is for sure, my husband missed the Christmas concert of our children second year on the row. I certainly hope it's not going to be a third one.
I was there, with 39 C fever. You know, life... :) You just put on your brave face and move on.