We arrived in Yangon about three months ago. Belongings showed up six weeks later. Unpacking: nearly complete. Yet, we are still arriving. We're new. And I think we'll be arriving for a long, long time. As long as it takes until this feels like home. Or as much like home as possible. (Currently, my daughter doesn't think it will ever feel that way.)
We've moved around quite a lot, but this is the first overseas move with our child and that makes being an expat this time around different. And, new. Everything about the move feels new. Everything about Myanmar is new. And, when seen through our child's eyes, it just adds another dimension to...yes...new.
Every week, however, being here feels more comfortable. I know which supermarkets I can buy western food from. I know directions, the roads, to places we drive most frequently. Learning exactly which street sells beautiful, ornate, artistic ceramic pots was a small victory that felt monumental. My daughter has developed friendships. I've progressed from holding play dates that only involve children and nannies, to play dates where the moms stick around, too. (Thank god.) Now I've made friends. Significance: not underestimated.
I know that friendships make or break living somewhere. Without friends, the kind of loneliness that you can choke on creeps up your spine. Been there. Done that. Not this time around though. I've learned through all my shifting around, that I must initiate friendships, put myself out there. This is only a new lesson.
Thankfully there is a great gmail group in Yangon for expats. I've invited people to join a book club or have play dates (moms required). I've met a friend this way (she's lovely) and have been invited to join a book club. Through initiating play dates, I've met wonderful moms who don't have nannies (like us). We drink tea and coffee while our kids play. Have meals. Break bread. This is the stuff friendships are founded on.
It's the stuff that brings peace of mind, too. Don't think I'll ever have the type of peace that the pictured Buddha has, but I don't have loneliness clawing at my throat. To me, that truly is a monumental victory when adjusting to expat life, moving 7,500 miles from all things familiar.