Sunday, 18 April 2010

What was I doing?

I know it all sounds exciting but those years were hard on me.  I hated not living near my boys, but for financial reasons we felt we HAD to get out of Nova Scotia - one of the most economically depressed provinces in Canada (still is), at least temporarily.

One of the benefits of the Bahrain contract was 2 round-trip tickets every 6 months.  The first six months there, I didn't work. We lived in an apartment in a highrise where many other expats lived.  Mike worked long hours.  I could go about the city alone no problem - it wasn't like Saudi Arabia.  But there really wasn't much to do except wander the souk (street market) or the big indoor upscale malls.  Our building had 2 swimming pools which was nice.  We made a few friends in the building and socialized.  Being outdoors was difficult to take for very long.  It was usually well into the 100's with 100% humidity.  You had to go from air-conditioner to air-conditioner.

At Christmas, I flew home and stayed for a month visiting the boys.  I decided that when I went back, I would have to get a job there, or go crazy.  I wasn't really allowed to work there legally but the rules are lax when it comes to english-speaking western women who are in high demand for secretarial work.  I quickly found an executive secretarial job which kept me busy enough for the next six months, but I was very glad to leave after that.  However, now we had a new problem.  We couldn't yet go back to live in Canada unless we paid income tax on the money we earned in Bahrain.  You have to stay out of the country for 2 years.

We spent another month in Halifax, visiting our boys while Mike searched for jobs in the US.  That resulted in our going to California, a far more attractive destination.  Yet, after a few months there, not working, missing my boys, I went home to Halifax again, on my own.  Not a break-up, mind you, just something I felt I had to do.  I rented a room in a house, found a job for a few months, and spent time with the boys.  In the middle of winter.  Then, missing Mike, I went back.

I have always been able to turn my hand to pretty much anything.  Jane of all trades.  For a few years, after the birth of my youngest, I had my own office services business in the small town where we were living.  I loved that.  I took courses, went to business networking events.  When I went back to California, I was again not legally allowed to work.  But I did anyway.  I found a nice little soup and sandwich cafe run by an immigrant who happily paid me in cash to work in the kitchen, prepping food and baking bread.  I loved that too.  I was great at baking bread.

I enjoyed the rest of our stay in California.  I was able to have the boys fly down for a vacation and we all drove down the coast to Disneyland.  Mike and I did a lot of hiking in the foothills and driving through wine country.  San Francisco was 40 minutes away on the freeway and we went there frequently to spend a day walking around that beautiful city.  During that time, my boys moved from Nova Scotia to Alberta with their father, who had been laid off and had found a new job in Calgary, so now they were really close to California.  At least we were all on the same coast!  Then, Mike was laid off.  He tried to find work in his field in Canada at that time, but no go.  We moved to North Carolina - the OTHER coast.

Now I was really restless again.  It was beautiful in NC and we loved the beaches and the rolling green countryside.  Again, I had the boys fly down for vacation and we spent a week at the beach.  Again, I found work for cash.  This time, I did house-cleaning and dog-sitting for a wealthy woman who owned a printing business.  She also put me to work in that business from time to time doing "pick and pull" work, basically boring hand labour putting together completed print jobs for packaging.  I volunteered at the animal shelter, and, of course, came home one day with a 3 month old lab mixed breed (Annie).  After about a year, I decided I needed to go and live in Calgary near my boys again.  And off I went, asking Mike to please find a job in Calgary and follow me when he could.  It took about 8 months, but he eventually did.  He's a GOOD man.

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