Tuesday, 4 April 2017

I didn't think I could

Two years ago I was working in Strasbourg. France, for an international organisation, a job I found interesting, and was reasonably happy with my life. I wasn't especially looking to change things. We owned an apartment, and under the rules I was going to have to retire in 2019 (which is still the case). I didn't especially want to live in France after retirement. Not in Strasbourg anyway, beautiful though it is, because the weather is crap. Nobody should live in a cold dark place after retirement if they don't have to. It was tempting to stay in France, but somewhere warmer - the Rhine Valley is dank - for the sake of French healthcare, which has to be the best in the world. But France is hardly the cheapest country to live in, and one's pension goes a lot further elsewhere. What to do? Well, no need to decide right now. Cyprus is the island of my heart, and I dreamed of living out my old age there. But Brexit. Yes, a tragedy, and we will see.

Then, suddenly, we decided to sell the apartment, to make ourselves free. No sooner had we made that decision than significant other (this was in 2015) got a job in Cambodia. Someone, somewhere, was putting a rocket underneath us and saying, get up, move on, change your lives. So we did. To cut a long story short, sig other has been working in Cambodia since 2015, the apartment was sold in January 2016, and I took sabbatical from Strasbourg and joined him in Phnom Penh in October 2016. I even got a teaching job there, so not requiring another income to support me in Cambodia. Providential or what?

Living in tropical South-East Asia, for the first time in my life at age 62, learning Khmer, teaching. Sig other teaching, developing academically by studying for a Master's, which I had thought he should do a long time ago but only now is he galvanised to do it. Both of us doing things we thought we couldn't do, or would never do. My personal possessions and our household goods savagely culled. Sig other is a hoarder and will not cull his, so has a storage unit in Strasbourg all to himself, which is another story, and he will be the one to end it. We live the expat life in Phnom Penh, an easy city to live in. Teachers are not rich, but life is good. Mostly.

Both of us have been picked up roughly and set down in another part of the world to do different things. Where will it all end? We don't know. I thought I was having a gap year at 62, and sig other thought he was taking a job in Cambodia to get Asia experience to help him to develop his work in his field in the UK. But it isn't quite like that. There's more to it than that.

None of this comes free. I have no home, and no real legal identity any more. I miss my family. I hope some of them will visit. I'll be seeing most of them this summer, and expect to be teaching for six weeks in darkest Uxbridge, which will help to finance a summer in the UK. Then - well, anything could happen.

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