After 9 years and 3 countries, I’m making the transition from expatriate to repatriate. It’s a brand new chapter with new stories to tell! I now come to you from the home of baseball and birthplace of Frank Sinatra— Hoboken, New Jersey.
These many weeks recovering from surgery to correct a Lisfranc dislocation in my left foot, I can honestly say I know what it feels like to be a goldfish. For the most part, I’ve lived the better part of two and a half months in the fishbowl that is my 34th story condominium. Don’t get me wrong. With floor-to-ceiling windows, the confined space offers lovely views of Singapore. But to me, it’s still a glorified tank.
For the better part of 1,872 hours, I’ve spent my time watching life happen just beyond the glass which entraps me. I do daily laps around my condo, but without any real purpose because there isn’t anywhere to go or anything to do other than waiting for my feedings at the hands of caretakers. In truth, I’ve had moments where I felt like I was drowning due to the sheer weight of the monotony. For this, I have developed a whole new respect for captive marine life. I honestly don’t know how they do it.
Fortunately, I’m not a fish. I’ve found a few worthwhile activities to pass the time like playing Scrabble with complete strangers over the Internet. As I contemplate the reasons and meaning in life’s twists and turns, I also spend countless hours shuffling tiles to find significance in random letters as well as coping strategies to deal with challenging boards. I mean, really, what do you do when life gives you nothing but vowels? You can’t give up. You can’t exchange the letters you’re handed. Much like an injury, you have to push through until something goes your way. In one momentous game where I had been down most of the match, I managed a come-from-behind victory when I was able to add my seven letters M A C K E R E to my opponents L for bingo on a double word score.
I have been schooled plenty of times, too. Through defeat, I have learned about words starting with Q that don’t need the accompanying U. For example, QAT and QI are accepted in the game, but QANTAS is not. Even though I do not know what QAT or QI means, I accept the validity of their existence because of my complete faith in the Scrabble Gods, who judge word worthiness from somewhere in Clouds. This almost blind faith has caused me to have a bit of an existential crisis, at times. I do know QANTAS exists, but I am forced to disavow its legitimacy based on my new-found belief in all things Hasbro. At the same time, I also have to believe that my husband, who will soon fly from Australia on this non-existent, non-Scrabble sanctioned airlines, will somehow land safely and soundly in Singapore. I may not need U, but I certainly need him. As far as fish go, he’s quite the catch.
From the start, I knew that Nader was something special. In the oceanic-sized dating pool mostly filled with bottom feeders, I managed to land a prize of a guy. If I wanted to point to the brightest spot in the murky months since my accident, it is that my already happy marriage has been made stronger. Because of my husband’s intense work and travel schedule, I’d groomed myself to be a self-sufficient and independent trailing spouse. While I’ve always loved having him around, I coped perfectly well when he was away for periods of time. Lisfranc changed this dynamic. For the first time in our relationship, I have been dependent on my husband, physically, mentally, and emotionally. It’s been good for me to be able to be vulnerable on the one hand, but at the same time also feel completely cared for and protected. With his demanding job, I realize his additional role a caretaker has not been easy. Nevertheless, Nader has zealously and unselfishly catered to my most basic needs. The vows of “in sickness and health” now have a deeper meaning, and I take solace in the fact that I am married to someone who also takes those words to heart. To put it in Scrabble terms: unlike the Q and U, our pairing is not optional.
It’s true these days I’m little more than a goldfish, but I have faith that during this period of recovery I will not go belly up. With Hasbro to amuse me and the King of the Sea by my side, I will get through these last few weeks swimmingly.