The here and now and a bit of way back then

I relived my journey to 40 and found there's so much more to say

The Gift of Sharing (but not over sharing)

on November 22, 2013

I’m waiting for Husband to get back from working the week in Hong Kong. This is not a common occurence, so it was with high excitement that we all took him to Changi International Airport on Monday to wave him off. What is there not to love about airports? It’s full of promise of adventure and far away places. Plus this year’s Christmas theme at Changi International Airport appears to be Christmas Spongebob Square Pants, complete with Christmas pineapple. When #2 said out loud, ‘Look Mummy, a Christmas pineapple!’, I was about to say ‘Erm, I don’t think it can be a Christmas pineapple #2’ but thankfully I didn’t because we haven’t reached the point yet where Mummy is wrong.

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These days air travel is so much the norm and we have grown quite blase about catching aeroplanes but I still remember a time when the whole family would go to the airport to wave off whoever was flying to Hong Kong. Everyone only ever went to Hong Kong. My Dad, Mr Li, firmly believes there isn’t much point going anywhere else. Then everyone would go to collect whoever was flying back from Hong Kong. By the time I was 23, I had been to Hong Kong twice and Tenerife once. The family tried to holiday ‘European style’. Needless to say they never did again, thus confirming Mr Li’s opinion that there isn’t much point going anywhere other than Hong Kong. Though I’m still not overly well travelled, I’ve not done too badly in the last 16 years. However, I’ve inherited Mr Li’s fear of flying. That first flight to Hong Kong with Mr Li, Lil Bro and Lil Cousin Tang is where I caught my first glimpse of the Fear. Over 31 years later, I can still see Mr Li looking nervous, chewing gum and gripping the arm rest. Ironically, he’s outgrown his fear now.

So I’m not good with take off, I’m not good with turbulence but I’m ok with landing because by then it’s almost all over. Once we’re up in the air sans turbulence, I love the whole flying experience! I even don’t mind the food, I quite like exploring all those compartments on the tray and I love the souvenir cutlery too. Before travelling with young children brought a different kind of fear, (the fear of them screaming on the plane, not sleeping, making too much noise, kicking the seat in front, needing the toilet when travelling on your own, getting bored and so on), I loved the whole experience. The excitement of going somewhere different, getting a stamp in your passport (mightily annoyed at no stamp to other EU countries and Hong Kong), browsing Duty Free because it’s so much cheaper and ending up only buying a bottle of gin, watching at least two films, three if you’re lucky on a long haul flight. These days, when travelling with young children, I’ll be lucky if I even get as far as seeing what’s underneath the tin foil on my tray of food. If you thought the seats in Economy were narrow just for you, try it with small wriggling person.

Anyways, the week has flown by like it does when small children are involved. We had initial cries of ‘I miss Daddy’ at hourly intervals and especially at bedtime for the first few days but either they’ve got used to it or they feel reassured that Daddy is home in two days instead of five that they’ve been more settled about it all. Instead of lolling on the couch watching crap TV as Husband calls it without him going on about it being crap TV which I thought I’d be doing, I’ve been rather busy. I’ve been up late most nights writing to you a bit and making sets of advent calendars which I’m rather proud of so I’m going to post a picture in here too.

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Filling the time whilst Husband has been away hasn’t been a problem. In fact, during the working week, it’s only a few hours in the evening and an hour in the morning of his company that I’ve been missing. Yet, at various moments of the working day, I’ve missed being able to give him a quick call about something. Usually to share something quite mundane, I have to say, but it’s the ability to spontaneously call the other person and have a brief chat. Regular communication. Keep things ticking along until hometime. I know a lot of people whose wives and husbands work away a lot. Sometimes for weeks at a time and often wiping out the weekends too. A friend once said that when her husband is travelling, the week days are fine, you can always find someone to share a morning or afternoon with but come the weekend then that’s time reserved for families to share together. If you are one of those people whose wife or husband works away a lot then can you just let me know?

In my last post I talked about the Gift of Giving in the altruistic sense but this time I would like to talk about the Gift of Sharing. Like I say, it was a thought that started off with Husband being away this week for the first time in a long while and not being able to share the everyday stuff, particularly when it’s about #1, 2 and 3, or a conversation I’ve had with a friend, or something I’ve seen in the news, or the rage I felt at the tit in the car who had no regard for using his indicators. You know, just the general stuff. Stuff that no one else would be interested in me telling them and so it would never be said. Husband probably isn’t either about half the stuff I tell him but it’s his job to pretend to be interested. I actually had a conversation with him last week about something important during which he fell asleep. The reason why I know he was asleep was when I heard snoring. There are worse times to fall asleep I guess.

I like to share. I wouldn’t be writing to you now if I didn’t. I don’t share everything though because it’s not always appropriate. Whilst I still haven’t figured out Twittering, I’ve decided it’s not for me. I think some of it is good when it serves a purpose of giving out information that has a use but I don’t really get Twitting a message about being stuck in a queue or LOLing about something no one else can see. It’s also quite dangerous in shooting off something you really shouldn’t on the spur of the moment. By the way, I still get rather alarmed when someone signs off LOL to me. I felt a bit uncomfortable for a while when a friend used to do that and I thought it meant Lots of Love. Isn’t that what it used to mean? I also think if I over shared on social media what would I say in person? Whilst I’m not a fan of Twitter, I think Facebook has been invaluable with helping me keep in touch with a lot of people. Especially those who are ‘sharers’ and not just voyeurs. Then again it’s not quite the same as a text message, an email, a Skype chat, a card, a letter, a telephone call.

I’m not stoical about stuff as you’ve gathered, unlike many people I know, and this week I realised what essentially it is that I find the hardest about living this Expat life. I’ve often said that missing familiar things in the UK is hard. Missing people there and people I have met here who have moved elsewhere is even harder. Why do I miss you? Well, I guess I miss sharing stuff with you. Memories are created through shared experiences. Relationships are strengthened through shared experiences. The burden that life sometimes heaps upon us is lightened through sharing. We can find unexpected laughs with people by sharing a little of ourselves. I wish I could share with you this new life we have that includes all these small people who are so much fun and I wish we could share a pint together because that is always fun too.

Sharing is indeed caring and a gift that we can give freely.

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