It was quite easy to leave England. Or so I thought! I had a home in the Algarve, and a ready made life, carefully nurtured over 15 years. A variety of friends awaited, and activities to engage in. I loved the place I was moving to. You’ve seen the photos. How could I not? And yet… was the honeymoon over?
There was a certain euphoria in making the dream a reality. Even saying goodbye to lifelong friends was done with gaiety, each one a celebration of our shared lives. They could visit, couldn’t they? And the same for my family, though not without a pang or two. Everyone was excited and pleased for me. The move went smoothly. Fragments of my old life, packed in cardboard boxes, made its way overland to join me. But when it arrived I was filled with dismay. Much of it seemed irrelevant to my new life, here in the Algarve, squeezing our comfortable space till it felt cramped. I closed the door on the second bedroom. Avoiding it all.
I didn’t miss my old home in the UK, as I thought I might, but I did miss its warmth. I had moved to a land of sunshine and blue skies, but the house was cold. Designed to keep out heat in the summer, in the winter they are not so easy to keep warm. Tiled floors, though beautiful, don’t help. Out and about and busy in the daytime, I was happy enough, but returning home meant putting on extra layers of clothing. The house is air-conditioned and individual rooms can be heated, but moving between them was uncomfortable, even with plug-in heaters. I was miserable, and cross with myself besides. Why was I not happy? Everyone knew I was living the dream.
Language is so important to me. I hide behind photographs, but I deal in words. Somehow it hadn’t mattered when we came to our holiday home but, proudly obtaining residency, I felt inadequate and frustrated by my inability to converse freely with locals. I still do, but I’m trying!
So much gloom! Did you know? Could you tell? My life in pictures continued to shine forth at intervals. I reinstated my Monday walks, reflecting the joy I still found in the amazing outdoors, but on a personal level I couldn’t quite find the idyll. People here are kind, and my disorientation was noted. We discussed heating issues, and others, and I was assured that the first year could be difficult. The weight of expectation, perhaps?
Gradually I am getting there. Most of the boxes are unpacked, and painting done. With new settees and carpet our home feels comfortable and welcoming. But I’m not flexible and adaptable. Why didn’t I know that about me? My husband has made the adjustment far better, and retained his much needed sense of humour. And he can still make me smile. How lucky am I? Living in ‘almost paradise’.
Linking to Cathy’s Prose invitation, over on Wander.essence.