Friday, February 15, 2008

Reverse Culture Shock

I've moved back to Canada for the first time in almost seven years.

Similar to when I first left to travel, I'm walking away from everything in order to restart.

It's hard being in between places. I own very little, which means, unlike my friends who have amassed furniture and appliances and homes, I have to go through all that expensive buying in a short period of time.

I'm in job search limbo, applying for various jobs with the resigned acceptance that the employer will, in all probability, never contact me. Although just as I write this, I got an email saying I've been shortlisted for a government job.

I'm an African Adventure travel writer with a Business degree. I speak four languages.

Those are my strong points. They sound good, but don't amass to much in the job world.

I worked at a Bank for less than a year, which is good experience wise, but bad for loyalty points. A couple not so important jobs sums up my job history.

If I can get my book in the publishing rounds, which I'm hoping to do soon, I might have a chance at saying I've accomplished something of substance over the last few years. I might even get to crack into some writing career circles, journalism, editing, etc. Until then though, I'm just another unproven hack writer struggling to rise among the others. I'm not sure what the exact numbers are, but something like 99 percent of all people who have written a manuscript will never be published.

I miss my wife and son, who are supposed to join me at the beginning of March. But even when they get here, the limbo will continue. Siham will be visiting, as her permanent residence visa could take another five months to come through.

The last letter she received said it could take even longer than that. Of course, such things are to be expected. We only paid $1,500 for her application. For that measly amount, you don't expect them to be very fast... I mean, we're just a family with a child and multiple years of marriage. People who just met on the Internet and are falling "in love" should definitely take precedent over proven loving families with children. Especially old, overweight Canadians and young, illiterate but strikingly attractive foreigners who get friends to type to their sweetrides, er, I mean sweethearts.

The sooner they get over here, the quicker they can go on welfare, do the pump and dump, and return to their home countries to remarry and import their entire families over to Canada.

Sarcastic, head banging, and worst case scenario joking aside, I'm feeling a bit down. It's hard going from the freedom of living in our own big apartment, to living in my parents house while they are in Florida for the winter. I'm the thirty-one year old guy living in his parents basement.

My meagre possessions, what I've brought from Morocco, and my things of old, feel like they are cluttering space where neither they nor I belong. When travelling, I often got the "out of place" feeling, but at least I knew I'd be moving on soon to the next adventure.

Unfortunately, I don't know when I'll be moving on. Will I get a job tomorrow? Next week? Three months down the road? more...

Where will the job be? Will I be staying in Kingston? Moving to Ottawa? Somewhere else?

Amid all these worries is my desire to smooth the transition for my wife. If I feel out of place alone in my parents home, how is she going to feel bringing our son into the same environment? She'll be permanently away from her family and comfort zone for the first time in her life. It would be easier if we were moving into a new home. If we could both be applying for jobs, yet she can't because she needs her resident's visa.

My parents are great. I've got the run of the house as long as I need. But I would like to be settled before they get back from Florida around May.

The following poem is something I wrote years ago, and one of my favourites. Back then, I was running away and cringing at the lifestyle the poem portrayed. Now, in some ways, I'm find myself wanting that lifestyle back. Though I remember, with nostalgic happiness, the freedom of breaking away from it.

My promotion is coming, or perhaps it just came,
I can’t just walk away from all the things which I’ve gained.
The company needs me.
My spouse and the car.
The club I just joined, and the lads at the bar.
The deal I just made, my parents, my pet.
My mortgage, my back ache.
I can’t travel, not yet.
The summer, the winter, the sports, and my toys.
Don’t forget the girls and the boys.
I’m trapped in this life.
I wish I were you.
But to give up all this,
I just cannot do.

1 comment:

taamarbuuta said...

Having just gone through a move like that (okay, after only two years in Morocco), I sympathize.

I am surprised, however, that it's so difficult to bring your wife to Canada! My husband (also Moroccan) and I were married for less than a year when he got his US visa; the US has this nice loophole for US citizens who hold Moroccan residency, apparently.

I wish you the best of luck, and hope they arrive soon!