Wednesday, June 10, 2009

More Good-Byes

I am sitting on a bed in our hotel room in Montreal listening to Maya learn a new violin piece with my sister. My sister once played the violin, so they speak the same language. Maya gets so frustrated with me and vice versa whenever we practice together, so this is a treat for both of us. We left Kingston this morning to meet my parents in Ottawa for another few hours and ate more food and said our good-byes again and again. We dreamed about meeting in Cuba next February, but that is unlikely. I cannot imagine my parents will travel much anymore. This visit was a stretch for them.

Montreal beckons. We are staying on Sherbrooke near McGill, and the streets of full of people on a Wednesday night. We were referred to '3 Brasseurs' on Ste Catherine's for dinner; not very good food but according to Eric and Karen the beer was excellent. We have eaten so well these past three days, not just well but huge amounts, so we had hoped for a small bit of 'good enough' food. Eric tried 'poutine', a Quebecois dish of french fries, meat sauce and chunks of cheese, really rather disgusting. We had another version in Ottawa at the Murray Street bistro, but it was a gourmet attempt with spatzle and duck liver and was an entirely different experience. We have been indulged with incredible wine and wonderful food for the graduation extravaganza; I am relieved to eat fruit and salad for the next several weeks.

Ecuador food is simple, and I am looking forward to it. There are many different and interesting fruits and vegetables that we do not see in the United States. Ecuadorians eat corn and bananas and beans in all sorts of varieties, and lots of chicken and pork and rarely guinea pig. I have not tried the guinea pig, but my understanding is that it is just for special occasions and not eaten on a daily basis. Certainly it has not been offered at any meal when I have visited in the past. I like going to the market and trying the unfamiliar fruits that I see. I am anticipating healthy food choices and a healthier lifestyle altogether!

I am wondering about life without a job to go to daily. Will I be overwhelmed with all the time I will have to myself when Eric is at the lab and Maya will be at school? I am expecting it to be such a relief that I will not be able or willing to return to work when we are back in Baltimore. I look at my mother and sisters and find it remarkable that they have all had full and productive lives but have chosen not to work outside of the home. I have always justified my work because I felt I had no choice. I had to provide for my family, and I felt lucky to have a profession I found rewarding and never dull. I also felt defined by my work. I was a doctor, I helped people, I made them better, or so I thought and hoped and felt purposeful about. It has been difficult to end my practice and say good-bye to my patients, but now that it is almost over, I am excited about this year without the responsibility of so many lives. Just a few more weeks until I will be waking up each morning and making a decision to read a book or take a walk or bike with my daughter or whatever sounds interesting or compelling. I am beginning to question the years of intense work and my focus on my patients; was it for the income or was there a greater purpose? Will I have an identity without my work? What will I say when people ask me what I do for a living? Do I say I am retired? I guess that answer is that I am taking a sabbatical. Eric seemed perfectly comfortable with the idea of me not returning to work, as long as I can manage on his income. I have no idea if I can do that. Would I work if it was not necessary for survival?

Our move to Ecuador is leading me to question so many of my life choices, but perhaps it is also because of other factors that have come together now. My parents are aging, my daughter is leaving home, the balance of power in my marriage is changing, I am questioning my purpose and my identity, the list goes on and on. And I am writing about it, forcing myself to stop and think and reflect. In my ordinary life, I was running too fast and unable or unwilling to take the time to question anything. My life was a whirlwind of activity, with more added all the time, never slowing down or stopping to wonder why. When I met Eric, he asked me several times about what I was running from, but after a while he ran with me, or at least did not question the pace too much. The move to Ecuador offers me the possibility to quiet down, to find a place of peace I am convinced is somewhere inside of me. I do not regret the incredible pace of my life, but I welcome the new places I am going.

The limited income worries me. I am accustommed to more than enough to live on, to indulge myself, particularly enough to travel wherever I want (actually I could travel much much more that I do if I had no children or no work and far more income). Living off of half Eric's salary for a year sounds daunting. I will have to adjust to living with far less that I am used to. It feels like a major challenge and I hope I can prevail. I hope it ends up being a romantic experience, or at least that a life lesson will be to learn how to live with only the necessities. I feel supported by Eric who does not imply that I will be limited or restricted. There will simply be a finite amout to live on and we will work together to provide for our lives. I guess I have never felt 'poor'in my life, where the focus will be to have enough to eat. So many people in the world focus entirely on getting enough sustenance. What is one's life like when procuring enough to eat is the major focus of one's life?

I am definitely feeling less scared about the move. All the hard work devoted to moving and closing the practices is almost over. Ecuador is weeks away and we are almost ready to go!

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