Sunday, April 17, 2011

Running Out of Time?

I was a swimmer in high school, or at least I tried to be. Because there's not much else to do while under water and I, ahem, tend to be the cerebral sort, each evening (and most mornings) at practice I'd count the laps and calculate in my head how far through a set I was. If I was on the fifth fifty in a twenty fifty set on the minute (for those unfamiliar with the ins and outs of high school swimming, this is a fairly typical warm-up of 1000 yards, or at least it was in my day), I knew I was 25% of the way there. Or in my head, I knew that I still had to swim three times as far as I had already come. For some reason, this only consumed my thoughts for the first half of any particular set.

The first year of this two year assignment was similar. After two months, I told myself, "OK, now I just need to do that eleven more times and this little thing is over." Once you cross the halfway point, however, a strange thing happens. Your mindset changes from being a certain proportion of the way through the assignment to "oh crap, I only have eight months left." Considering my first experience in India in 2005 lasted six months in total and seemed an eternity at the time (in a good way), eight months should more than suffice.

But it doesn't. I'm running out of time.

You start to more carefully plan your weekends. You take a more critical look at the places you want to travel. You selfishly plan visitors' travel around your plans because, hey, they probably don't know better and are just happy to be in India. You start to consume your imported food a little less carefully because there's no point in taking it back where it came from. You make sure you actually go to that restaurant you've been wanting to try or back to that old favorite you "need" to try again.

This may also be because the wife and I tend to be planners. The year is basically planned out (knowing that we still need to find time to, you know, work and fulfill the formal reason why we're here in the first place):
  • May - Home leave for two weeks and then a weekend in Ranthambore
  • June - Visitors the second half of the month
  • July - Trek in Ladakh for the first half of the month
  • September - Long weekend in UAE (still not totally decided but Lindsay REALLY wants to go; something tells me we'll go)
  • October - Two sets of visitors across all four weekends
  • November - Some sort of short going away trip in this part of the world where the sole criteria is "crystal clear water"
When you get that volume of stuff (and I have no complaints, it's all going to be amazing stuff) on the calendar and throw in the fact that we need to find time to move back to the states, it doesn't leave as much time as eight months might otherwise suggest. In a way, it's good. It forces you to do new things because the opportunity will only be there for so long; however, at some point the expat experience becomes less about travel and more about living. I'm no going to lie, it becomes difficult to balance finding new opportunities with the need to re-experience things more familiar.

3 comments:

  1. "After two months, I told myself, "OK, now I just need to do that eleven more times and this little thing is over." ......

    I so hear you on that. Tomorrow makes one month and I've already thought to myself "okay, you just have to do that 10 more times...."

    Waiting for the halfway mark way of thinking to kick in...

    With that said I am trying to plan something every 2 months or so that way i have something to look forward to...wanna head north during the summer, south in the winter...and who knows where in the fall...maybe east... :)

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  2. I didn't mention it but that's EXACTLY how we bargained our way through the first year....we weren't quite as brave and decided we needed something about every six weeks which included something "major" about once every three months. It was a great way to anchor our minds around something, kept us grounded with a major reason we came (i.e., the ability to see so many fascinating places that we otherwise wouldn't), and it always helps to have something to look forward to.

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