The Scottish Saltire

The Scottish Saltire

Monday, August 25, 2008

A Detour

Definition: An alternate path of travel used while a regular path of travel is temporarily closed.

I had planned on being in Scotland by now to start school on September 1st. The first year student orientation was this past weekend. But, as we all know, Life has a way of sometimes throwing us a curveball. I was banking on the fact that my dad's house would sell over the summer and we could have gotten his estate all wrapped up by the time I needed to leave. No such luck in this current crappy real estate market. So I got a deferment from the University of the Highlands and Islands until the fall of '09. As you can imagine, I'm very disappointed about not being able to get to Scotland this year but I'm a firm believer that things happen for a reason and, for some reason, I'm just not meant to go this year. That being said, the next question is "What the hell do I do with myself for the next year?" Well....

Option #1
After all I do have kids there. It would be nice to be close to Michael and Shauna for a while and since I'm originally from the Pacific Northwest it would feel very much like going home. But I feel like spending the next year in Seattle would be just marking time. And, to be truthful, that's why I hatched this hair-brained scheme of mine. Because I saw my life not really going anywhere. I was just marking time, plodding along from one day to the next, living somewhere because that's where Life and circumstances had dropped me. Not really living life but simply existing in life. I had reached my own point of critical mass. It was time to take control of my life and do what I wanted instead of just following the path of least resistance.
Just because things have not followed my predetermined timeline does not mean that I'm going to go back to killing time. So, as much as I would love to be near a couple of my kids, Seattle is not the place for me.

Option #2
It really is like paradise and Karen could sure put me to work there. It would also be fun to look back afterward and say, "Yeah, I did that. I spent a year living and working on a small Caribbean island." But, honestly, as much as I love to visit there, Vieques is not the place for me either. The ever present intense level of humidity would get to me and I think I'd go island crazy before too long.

Option # 3
It would, at least put me back in Europe, where I really want to be. I've lived there before and loved it and, again, I have a kid there. Nik and I talked about it a lot while I was visiting in June. The rules for getting a long term visa are not as strict in Germany as they are in the UK (in my case, virtually impossible until I'm a student). We brainstormed about how I could earn a living while I'm there. My German language skills are OK but not good enough to just jump into total immersion and function at a competent level. So it's not like I could just walk in and apply for a job somewhere. But there is a need for native English speakers. Germans learning English need an avenue by which to practice what they are learning in structured classes. It's called English for Conversation. Since Nikki is an English teacher she sees the need firsthand. She already has several potential clients for me once I get there.
It will also be a pretty good Life skill for do more listening and less talking! I watched Nikki with a couple of her students at an informal appt over lunch one day. She contributed just enough to the conversation to keep it going but encouraged her students to do most of the talking by asking them questions. In learning a new language understanding comes much quicker than production so learners need the opportunity to speak the new language in a practice situation much more than they need to hear it. What a fun way to make a living. Spend time with people from another culture and help them with their English skills! And it's not like the German culture is a foreign one to me. The six year period when I lived there the first time was a wonderful experience. Even though my ultimate goal is to live in Scotland I'm very excited about just getting back to Europe. There just isn't anywhere here in the States that calls to me and says, "Come here. You should live here." It really hit me one day when I was sitting at a cafe at the Castle above Heidelberg a couple of months ago. I was sitting there soaking in the view and thinking about how happy I was to be back in Europe and I suddenly realized just how ready I am to leave the States again on a long term basis. I knew that, even though I still had some really fun summer travels ahead of me, I would be counting the weeks or months til I could get on a plane again headed back across the Atlantic. That's why I'm going back to Germany for the next year. I'm not choosing Nikki over Shauna and Michael. I'm choosing Europe over the States. At least for the next 5 years. I'm sure I'll come back at some point to live here again but now is not the time. Now is the time for me to get my second European adventure started with a year in Germany and then to realize my ultimate dream of 4 years in Scotland.

I'll be in Pittsburgh until the end of September. Steve's birthday is on the 18th (he'll be 17!) and I want to get back to Virginia to see Paul one more time before I leave. After that....pull out the passport and pack the cat!


Amy said...

I really respect how you've cleaned up and said farewell to your life in Tucson, and set out to do what you really wanted to. It'd be neat if you were up here in Seattle, but heck, Shauna may not even be here the full year, and if it's not where you want to be, don't do it.

It's also interesting, your pull to Europe. You and the twins have that. Me, it's just not there - for you it feels familiar and interesting and right; for me, it's the opposite of familiar and comfortable - the oldness of Europe feels very foreign to me, coming from a tropical island where everything is built of wood and tin, and nothing is more than a few decades old. If I came to visit, it would just be to see Nik and you, and maybe a few touristy landmarks.

But, really, the important thing is not that we want to be in different places, it's that we both know where we want to be.

Nikki said...

Amy, absolutely. And if I understood correctly in your comment on my blog, you later felt a little awkward for having mentioned this? That Europe just doesn't pull you, even though Mom and I slaver over it? Well, and so it shouldn't! As you say, "if it's not where you want to be, don't do it." Besides, imagine how much of the world we'll all be able to see as we spread our communal net far and wide! :)

Nikki said...

Oh yeah, and Mom: