It’s strange when all the connections to your life back home are reduced to the few odd late-night hours outside of the work day (when you can manage to get your patchy internet service to connect) spent looking through digital photos and bits of text that represent other people’s lives, occurring simultaneously but also 12 hours earlier or later than you see it. Kind of like the way we see the light emitted from stars that are millions of miles away, but the light already happened and we’re seeing it after the fact. Like sifting through someone’s diary for clues that you’re still a part of their life, but never getting a complete picture, and never seeing enough of yourself written in the lines to satisfy the need for love and connection. You come to exist as a note penciled into the margin, through no one’s fault but your own, because you’re the one that left.
Next to an open bay window at the Flower Street Cafe, where a summer morning breeze is coming in from the garden, I’m sitting alone but surrounded by other tables-of-one expats doing the same thing I am: sitting silently, typing away into their laptop-lifelines, heads bobbing to unheard music in headphones or mouthing words while fingers type.
The air smells like summer air that I’ve smelled in a lot of places, the weather is amazing, but we can only enjoy it from the confines of these security-approved bubbles. I keep looking out the window and feeling immobilized with how far away My Life feels. Despite the fact that I’ve moved into this house, filled my room with pretty things and comforts to give it an identity of ‘home’, it just only goes so far. When I wake up in the morning, there’s always a few moments when I get confused as I open my eyes and realize I’m not at home, but I’m here and I’m not going anywhere for a while. I’m going through these motions to make This Life seem real and permanent (for the length of this contract, that is) so that I can get through the days with relative happiness, but my subconscious is fighting it by kicking me each time I start to slip into a sensation of normalcy and comfort. It kicks me gently in the gut and says, ‘hang on, this isn’t your life, it’s just a rental.”