On a day like today, 11 years ago, I arrived in Europe for my "Living in Europe" experience. It was supposed to only last a couple of years (or until I would run out of money) Ended up continuing until today; transforming itself along the way. Eleven years ago I did not know, of course, that I would en up meeting (and later marrying) Mr M, or having Bibu and Pingu (yes, dear reader, little after 37 plus weeks I did bring our little baby to the world, but that's another story), finding a job, then another, and making lots of friends on the side. Belgium became my place in the world and it's definitely the place I miss when I want to "go home".
I started this blog around the time Bibu was 1 year old and Mr M got a job offer in the land of the rising sun, in Tokyo. I had never envisaged moving to exotic Belgium and marrying a local, so you would imagine how crazy and unique it felt when we packed up and went to live, albeit for two years, on the other side of the world, quite literally, from Argentina, where I'm originally from.
After the Japan experience, we returned to our lives and jobs in Belgium and got on with life, then went through a very difficult pregnancy which thankfully had a happy ending in the shape of Pingu, who is now 13 months. After his birth I went into maternity leave and decided I would make the most of it and enjoy it as much as possible, so I took the maximum legal, which in Belgium is about 7 months.
And then, after months of speculation, comings and goings, in April this year, when I was about to return to the office, I got the confirmation that I was being made redundant in a collective dismissal process, due to restructuring, blah, blah, blah.
The fact that I was kind of expecting it and that I was not that happy at work did indeed soften the blow. In fact, it did not feel as a blow at all. Financially, thank God, we are not at a place yet where losing one income would send us into the abyss or anything. Plus, my parents were about to arrive for a 6 week visit and the summer holidays were getting close, so I have to say, bar the one week where I had to negotiate my leaving package, it was a stress-free period.
Well, I have to report that after the grandparents visit and the summer holidays in Spain came and went, the panic feeling has started to seep in. I have had a few episodes of insomnia where I toss and turn for 2 hours thinking non stop about the job situation and when am I going to get a new job, should I go back to full time or try part-time? Or should I just try becoming an independent?
Now, I've been in this situation before and I know it's not the end. In fact, it may very well be the beginning of something much, much better. I would probably never have left Argentina and pursued my European dream, were it not for being made redundant all those years ago.
But now, I don"t know if it's because I am older and have two kids, a husband and debts, or simply because I forgot how I felt in 2002 when I decided to take all my life savings and take a plane (and a train) to Antwerp, Belgium, but I feel very chicken. I'm applying to jobs and have been to a couple of interviews already. Not that I expect to land the first job I apply to, but I cannot help feeling too old and overqualified for some things and not enough for others. I read job descriptions and it seems they're looking for Einstein, Steve Jobs and Wonder Woman rolled into one. Do these people actually exist?
Anyway, after over a year of not blogging, and this anniversary of sorts coming along, I realised that life does not have one but many detours. You choose some of them, but mostly is what life is about. The key, as usual, is what to do about it.
And I decided that, yes, I can take another turn in my detour. I'm still scared and chickeny, but I'm a coward who runs forward. So here I go.