September 13, 2010

The Trailing Spouse

It was one week after arriving in Singapore that I heard this phrase used for the first time.

Trailing Spouse

It sounds like a woman that would follow around after her husband with hands folded, head bowed, and shuffling feet waiting to be summoned. I found it amusing and repulsive all at the same time and wondered if I was alone in my irritation of being labeled something so unimaginative.

I resent the implication that I've had no part in the decision making process and work involved in moving. I don't know if it was an attempt to run as far from this label as possible or to keep myself from an impulsive moment of throwing up my hands and moving back to Houston, but I hit the ground running in Singapore.

We found a church, I joined a Bible study, had the pastor and his wife over for dinner and started to put down roots. I signed up for tours, made lunch dates, went to PTA meetings, and started working out again. I've been keeping up with the boys and their busy schedules and doing lots of laundry. Have I mentioned how much laundry there is when you have a teeny tiny washing machine? Loads and loads of laundry.

I have worked at investing in my new friends and maintaining the relationships I have from home.

I was NOT going to be a trailing spouse. I was determined to find my God given purpose in Singapore and nothing was going to stop me. I have contemplated the idea of heading off to other countries to work in orphanages or to help in poverty stricken areas. I have 2 different Bible studies going and one book, Radical, that is rocking my world. I have wondered if my secret dream of writing a book was something I should explore more in depth. I wonder if maybe God does want there to be a C3 Singapore and just how long I wait until jumping into that.

Then there's tennis. A sport that has elluded me all these years except for a brief stint of lessons a couple years ago that left me frustrated at my poor eye/hand coordination. I have been told my "wing span" is going to waste by not embracing the sport and maybe I should take up lessons again. Oh! And some kind of martial arts or yoga.....even pilates!

Given the amount of time the kids have off from school and the 2-3 years most ex-pats have in their contract, becoming a travel agent is required for any traveling on the list to be done. So many places to see and so little time that it's not unusual for a group of women to spend loads of time comparing notes on places, hotels, itineraries, and activities in order to check off the list of must see places. I am almost frantic over the fact that we don't have our Thanksgiving plans nailed down or our trip over Chinese New Year in February or even Spring Break in March. I need to get busy!!!

No time at all to be a Trailing Spouse.

In the meantime, Scot and I have been struggling. Plain and simple, this move has taken a toll on our relationship. I went from having a husband that worked outside the home and traveled internationally to having a husband that works from our apartment. I'm not used to him being around so it is just easier for me to leave. Fill my time outside our home. To be irritated that he's encroaching on MY space. I was aloof and snappy and generally unpleasant for him to be around.

We were sitting in the airport on our way to Australia for a brief work convention. We were being polite to each other and that was about it. He told me that he missed me. That he thought our move across the world and my removal from all that distracted me back home, would bring us closer together. That our relationship would be more intimate on all levels. That he would be all I needed. That he would fill the void of everything left behind.

I very stubbornly and somewhat arrogantly told him that I have been amazing in my attitude over the move and for that he should be grateful. That I have made a new life for myself and he ought to be thrilled. That I have not wasted one day away in the fetal position in tears for what we left behind and I should get an award.

"You're right. But I just thought it was going to be more of you and me."

That's all he said. I realized that it wasn't me at all that was the Trailing Spouse.

It was him.

That he was trailing after a wife who was completely missing the greatest gift of all in our move. The opportunity to strengthen and deepen a very important relationship. The opportunity for us to be a team. The opportunity for us to spend the kind of time together that I have yearned for in the past. The opportunity to be each other's best friend.

So, for you Scot, because I know you will eventually read this.

I am sorry.

I am sorry for not being more careful with our relationship. It is the most precious earthly relationship I have and it deserves to be treated with the utmost care and I have failed us in that.

Neither one of us needs to be trailing behind the other. We need to be walking next to each other, holding hands, laughing at private jokes, and being each other's biggest cheerleader.

Maybe we can take up tennis together? Well, except for that part where I get very competitive with you and say inappropriate things when I think you're purposefully losing to me. Yep, on second thought, we'll stay away from tennis.

Because I could totally beat you!!

I love you Scot Jenkins. You are my greatest gift in life.

September 03, 2010

Heads or Tails

One of my greatest blessings in moving here has been making new friends that are excited about their new lives and are ready and willing for any new adventure. We laugh because one of us will mention something we want to do and there's an immediate whipping out of calendars, a flurry of activity as we negotiate a day, and details nailed down all within about a 3 minute time span. Our activities vary from furniture warehouse tours to ziplining to culinary adventures and everything in between.

On the docket for this past week was a visit to a local wet market. A wet market is similar to a farmer's market. They are called "wet markets" because it is common for the floors to be wet as ice is thrown out as it starts to melt around fresh fish or has been hosed down after a long day of selling produce.

We set our sights on the Empress Market in order to work up to the mother of all wet markets in Little India, where apparently you can pick out which chicken you want from all the ones that are running around. It is going to take some time before I'm ready to watch a fun, happy-go-lucky chicken go from chasing its friends around to being a cutlet in a few short moments.

There was some hesitation on my part when I was told by a friend that a good wet market will turn any carnivore into a vegetarian. This did not sway my sense of adventure so off we went with a group of of which was a seasoned Empress Market shopper so she was officially our guide. Her husband also happens to be the head of security at the US Embassy which means I am one step closer to my lifelong dream of having a top security position that would require me wearing one of those cool ear buds with a hidden microphone. I haven't quite told her that since we are still getting to know each other, but I am already working it, trust me. Just call me Salt.

Our first stop was a fish stall where "Jackie Chan" works. Despite the dismal success of The Spy Next Door, he has not had to change careers to being a fishmonger. This guy has apparently been a stand in for Chan many times and he was not overly impressed with a bunch of American girls taking his picture while pretending we were more interested in all the dead fish.

I am happy to report that there were no live animals or fish of any kind from which to choose from with the exception of these:

Poor little slimy guys. They have no idea that everything that makes them original and unigue would soon be destroyed by the one infamous statement: They taste like chicken.

I did end up buying a red snapper from this lady. She was trying to convince me to buy this enormous fish and was being very insistent about it. I instead bought one about half that size and asked the fishmonger to cut it up for me.

I turned around to look at something else and when I picked up the bag with my fish I could see its tail......or fin.....or whatever the thing that steers the fish is called. I was afraid that if the tail was still attached, there was a very good chance the head was as well. I handed the fish back and told my new friend that they were going to have to go ahead and take the head and tail off my new fish. They looked at me like I was nuts because how in the world was I going to make a good fish head stew without the fish head? That's easy......I'm not, so off with his head!

So, to summarize up to this point.
1. I am not ready to pick my chicken cutlets by who has the best personality.
2. I am not ready to destroy the self-image of a frog by telling everyone that he tastes like another species.
3. I am not ready to start chopping off the heads and tails of any kind of animal.

The rest of the day included buying some amazing fruit and watching my sister navigate around a vegetable stand like the professional vegetarian that she is. Apparently I need to ask to taste various leafy vegetables with a look of concentration on my face as to impress the vegetable seller guy. Because he looks VERY impressed here........

Vanessa is wearing the yellowish shirt in the front. She lives in my apartment building and has the most perfect teeth ever! I need to be careful to not scare her away with my fascination over her teeth....we have had at LEAST 2 conversations about how amazing her smile is!

This is my gorgeous friend, Lisa. I stalked her at 4th grade orientation. She has mastered driving in Singapore like noone else I know which officially makes her a superstar, and our designated driver which I'm sure is going to get old very quickly. This is a girl that LOVES adventure and for that I am very grateful!!

My sister, Cyndi, was ecstatic that she was able to buy tofu for about 80 cents. Apparently that is a cause for celebration?

This is my friend, Tiffany. She is the first friend I made here because she walked into a room and I pegged her for being a Texan and I was right!! Come to find out, we have 3 mutual friends (thank you Facebook) and the impossible task of ever finding shoes in Singapore to fit our feet. My beautiful friend is holding a bouquet of orchids that she was able to buy for about $9 USD.

My loot in my eco-friendly bag. Because I'm green and all that.

After about a full 45 minutes of shopping it was time for a snack!! They had various food stalls and we were very excited to find a Prata stand. It is a glorified crepe and you can get them savory or sweet. This one is stuffed with banana and is ALL kinds of yummy.

I would point out to you who the wife of the US Embassy security guy is, but then I'd have to kill you. But as I have already mentioned, taking body parts off of things that are already dead makes me squeamish so I am probably not much of a threat.

Just looking at all the fruit and yummy vegetables makes me want to throw out all the cookies and ice cream with promises to embrace an incredibly healthy lifestyle. Well, maybe once the cookies and ice cream are gone THEN I will start with the new healthy stuff! In the mean time, I have some fish tacos coming my way!

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