He’s back! It all seems like a distant memory, watching him drive off into the sunset (actually it was lunchtime) on his little 125cc scooter, with his suitcase strapped precariously to the back with elastic bungy ties. This post is all about living apart, retro phones and turning splash pools into ponds. Let’s proceed.
He was bound for England. Don’t you think that sounds so beautifully old fashioned? It conjures up images of tweed jackets, leather suitcases and aviation goggles. In reality he was heading to one of the worst airports in Europe (no joke) with his plastic hand luggage, to catch a budget flight and pay through the nose for a cup of tea.
As I stood there waving him off, I wiped a tear from my cheek whilst wondering which bikini to wear to the beach…only kidding. Seriously, I was sad.
I mournfully headed inside, made myself a cup of tea and paced around a bit. Next, I moved my pillow to his side of the bed – it seemed like the right thing to do. At a loss, I held one of his t-shirts up to my face whilst inhaling the fond scent of him. Then I decided that his t-shirt was well over-due a wash.
The first week was tough. I cried and talked it through with Dora-dog; she felt really upset too. We didn’t know what to do with ourselves.
Why we were living apart for 5 weeks…
Mr Sidestepping Normal was heading back to England for some proper work. The kind of work where you actually get paid real money. He had started a job here in Crete at the beginning of the season, but… let’s just say it didn’t work out. He floated to another job, but that didn’t work out either.
The situation had left him feeling down. For the first time since I’ve known him, he was lacking confidence; It was painful to watch.
When the opportunity arose for him to work some holiday cover in England for 5 weeks, he took it straight away. When we used to live in the UK, Mr Sidestepping Normal worked evenings in a veterinary practice, in addition to running his dog walking business. Animals are what he know’s best. Give him a coughing cat or a unruly dog and he’s on the case. Give him an obnoxious owner and he’s in his element.
We knew it would be tough living apart, but he would earn real wages instead of the pittance that jobs pay here. Whats more, he would be working in an environment where he is valued and has experience and knowledge.
So, in a nutshell, that’s how we get to the part where I’m waving him off, a white handkerchief in my hand, floating in the breeze… Ok. There was no white handkerchief, but if I had one I would have waved it, plus handkerchiefs are very environmentally friendly.
Working in Greece vs working in England…
We always knew it would be difficult to find work in Greece, it’s the primary question everyone asked us when we told them about our plans to move here. In actual fact, finding work wasn’t the difficult part, adjusting to the way people work here was the difficulty.
Over the last 6 months, we’ve both tried out various different jobs. From a bicycle tour job, shop work, waitressing, agricultural work, you name it, we’ve tried it. We’ve been praised, reprimanded, payed a pittance and not payed at all. We’ve felt worthless, needed and dejected.
We never valued the fairness and security of working In England. Similarly, we never realised how protected we were. In England you get payed the minimum wage (not under it) and you have sick pay and rights. We took it all for granted and now it seems so fantastic. But on the flip side, we get to go to the beach every day and our quality of life is so much better…
My routine whilst living apart…
Everything about my existence seemed upside down. I was living in our friends dilapidated apartment whilst we rented our home to friends and family. My husband had gone for 5 weeks, and I was living and working in a new country with a foreign language and very few friends. I felt extremely lonely and my only real solace was the routine that ate the days away. Plus, sitting on you tube watching videos of cute puppies and kittens really helped. Give it a try.
I’ll give you an insight into my repetitive routine, it went something like this. In the morning I’d rise with the alarm on my Nokia C2-01 (2011 model.) Did I mention that Mr SN blew up my smart phone when we first arrived in Crete? There was smoke, and a bang and a burn-y smell. It was quite impressive. In denial, he tried to charge it. Guess what? Nothing happened. Since then, I’ve been the proud owner of my little plastic Nokia. It rings, it texts (no whatsap) and it has a 3.2 mega pixel camera, which is proudly written on the back. For those of you (us) that don’t know much about phone cameras; it’s grainy. On the up-side, the battery lasts forever.
After tending to the two foster kittens and Dora-dog, I’d head to work (I’ll write a post in depth about my seasonal job very soon.) When I got home, I’d let the foster kittens out of their room. I didn’t think it was wise to let Dora-dog and the kitties ‘hang’ during the day; As tolerant as Dora-dog is with the little darlings, sometimes two kittens playing in your tail gets tiring.
After we’d all been fed and watered, the intense August heat would take it’s toll and I’d take an afternoon nap. I’d give the kittens the benefit of the doubt and let them have the run of the little apartment. Then, after ten minutes of kittens play-fighting on the bed and pouncing on my toes, I’d shut them away to allow Dora and I to rest.
“As tolerant as Dora-dog is with the little darlings, sometimes two kittens playing in your tail gets tiring.”
In the evenings, once the heat had subsided, I’d walk dora-dog. Sometimes we’d go to the beach for a sunset swim, sometimes we’d walk the streets at midnight. Midnight in August is a magical time to take a stroll. It’s hot and balmy, and so…Mediterranean. Greek children are just heading home after an evening of playing outside with their friends and teenagers congregate together. There’s usually a “cool’ guy showing off his moped, and they Joke and laugh and fool around. It makes me feel 16, and then I remember I’m not.
The days passed and the weeks came and went. We tried to keep in touch via my trusty Nokia, but with the limited minutes on the contract, it was difficult to have a proper conversation. It was like being in the 90’s. Even when we did manage to catch up, a familiar ending to the phone call would be “I’ve got to go, there’s a kitten escaping out the window/ climbing the curtains/ stuck in a drawer…”
“We tried to keep in touch via my trusty Nokia, but with the limited minutes on the contract, it was difficult to have a proper conversation. It was like being in the 90’s.”
Whoops! Was that my job?
There were a string of ‘happenings’ whilst Mr SN was away, and I’m not sure if they would have happened under his watch. By that, what I really mean is that these things would never have happened under his watch.
Firstly one of the kittens chewed up the phone charger (I’m pretty sure I know which one it was) and for dessert, the laptop charger (same kitten, second offence.) Then I turned off the fridge at the villa, but forgot to leave the door a-jar for ventilation; a lot of mould can grow in a couple of weeks. Next the splash pool at the villa turned green (it’s difficult to remember to add the chlorine all the time) and in my attempt to drain the pool of water, I accidentally left the pump on and it burnt out. Oops. Maybe Mr SN is right, maybe my head is in the clouds?
I personally liked the shade of green the splash pool had become. Plus next door’s cats thought it was very kind of us to supply them with such a large water bowl. Neither of us are fans of the splash pool and we only have it up temporarily for our friends and family to use. Once we move back up to the villa, rest assured it will be dismantled…or maybe turned into a wildlife pond/mosquito breeding centre?9-i Oops, a foster kitten just ran over the keyboard!
Living apart…no more
Finally after 5 long weeks, he was home. It was like falling in love all over again. Distance really makes you see each other with new eyes. It was such a relief to have him back. That evening we ate dinner in a little back street, and sipped Mythos and talked, and talked, and talked some more.
It took him a few days to adjust back to ‘Greek mode’ after the hectic pace of the UK. The combination of long working hours, lots of traffic on the roads, and lots of people everywhere had taken their toll on him. He was lacking concentration and unable to fully engage in a conversation. In retrospect, that’s how we always used to be when we lived in England. When you’re in that ‘go go go’ mode you can’t see what it’s doing to you. It’s only when you escape that you realise what it did to you. However, after just a few days, he settled back into the relaxed pace here. Another coffee? Why not.
He’s been back for a couple of weeks now. There are extra dirty clothes in the laundry pile, more dishes in the sink and less food in the fridge. But as difficult as it was to be apart, it made me realise the following things: a) I love him more than anyone else on the planet. b) We are so dedicated to making our new life work that we are willing to make sacrifices. c) I am strong and independent and capable. d) Hide phone chargers from kittens and remember to put chlorine in the pool.
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