Welcome to May 2015’s #TrailingSpouseStories! This month, we’re talking about “Bloom Where You’re Planted.” How have we bloomed in our very itinerant way of life? Here is my take on the matter.
A few months ago, I tried my hand at gardening. I bought a basil plant, potting soil and pots. I moved the plant into the new pot, watered it everyday and failed. The basil plant died. So goodbye to endless supply of pesto?
But my failure wasn’t to be deterred, I tried again.
This time with spring onions. I’ve heard from friends who were into gardening that spring onions were a hardier, easy to grow plant. I trimmed off the green tops and planted the roots in an inch of water. Each day, the spring onions grew. I waited patiently until the roots grew strong and long. Then came the day to move it into soil. This is it!
I dug a hole in the dirt, placed the spring onion, covered the roots and said a little prayer. I watered it everyday, even cheering the plant on “You can do it!”. But it never grew.
My personal gardening consultant said that it might have been because of its roots. It may have been premature, not ready for the sudden change in environment from water to soil.
This made me reflect about my life as a trailing spouse. I am like that plant, prematurely moved from one environment into another. I do not have strong roots in the countries I’ve lived in, more or less two years each under my belt. But unlike the plant, I have not died, rather I’ve grown (hopefully bloomed) in ways I’ve never imagined.
But how can one grow without roots?
ONE: Beauty starts from the seed. When you have a great foundation, it helps ease in adjustment into your new home as your values, principles and beliefs would be tested with challenges from all kinds of situations and people you will meet. With that, I am extremely grateful for my parents’ upbringing, my education, my work experience and life in the Philippines. Its not that I have never been shaken. I’ve gone through a number of experiences (case in point, here, here, here and here) that made me think and ask questions.
But what if you think that you’ve got a cracked foundation? Well, plants doesn’t grow on soil alone, which leads me to TWO: A support system from one’s partner. Again, I would definitely not be here, outside the home country, if not for The Husband, my partner. Being a partner doesn’t mean you split 50-50 in everything. It means, being the 80% when your partner is in his 20%. You adjust based on the partner’s needs as they come, a give and take.
Of course, plants don’t only grow on soil and water. They need help from some friends – worms, bees, birds and other animals.
So THREE: Good set of friends. Not just one you can get along with, but ones who can inspire and guide you lead the life that you see yourself living. I was lucky in Dubai, The Husband had a good, solid group of friends. But here, to be honest, this is an extra challenge for me, an introvert, but it is always a work in progress.
And yes, plants need sunshine!
FOUR: A little pocket of happiness for yourself and nobody else’s. I will say that not all ground your seed will be thrown on will be fertile, perfect growing conditions. So you will need to weed through all the junk, the trash to find little gems. To me (other people may disagree), Dubai was not the perfect place. Maybe because of the goddawful heat among other things. So I had to find things to keep me going, luckily, the city’s 200+ cuisines to try was more than enough. Here in the States, improving my kitchen skills, working on my writing, learning more about the rich, multi-layered culture (Yes more the the US than outlet shopping!) and history of the country are what keeps me happy.
Last, but not the least, plants need fertilizers. Some funk to add that spunk! And so, FIVE: A set of challenges. You’re lucky because the trailing spouse life is filled with them. From dealing with taxes (especially if you came from a tax-free country) to learning how to drive to starting all over again.
Maybe we, trailing spouses, can be like the weeds, like wild flowers. Though often unwanted aliens in their environment, they still manage to grow, finding a soil patch that they can latch their roots on and call their own. Persistent, hardy, wild and beautiful.
Read more about other trailing spouse experiences:
Clara of Expat Partner Survival talks about what it was like living somewhere so humid that growth was everywhere. An ongoing battle with mould, ants and sweat. She also talks about how life in “paradise” isn’t what it seems in Blooming Hell – Life on a Hothouse Island.
Jenny Reyes of MyMommyology say that the whole #TrailingSpouse experience is like planting seeds and hoping they’ll grow in #TrailingSpouseStories: Growing A Garden (Or So We Hope).