What do you do when you know exactly how a story would turn out in the end? Either you choose to respond to your awareness of the truth or leave it to chance.
You can go with the flow, accept things as they come your way because this is the best you think you could have. At the same time, you keep reaffirming to yourself that ‘whatever happens, happens for good,’ if not great. By now, you have started to warm up to the belief that one day, in retrospect, when you connect all these dots, however, undesirable the end may seem now, it would eventually, all make sense.
So, with a conflicted heart and mind, all the way till the end, you are forced to accept the truth. You are forced to accept a truth you are not well prepared for.
It is either that, or, you can choose to take things in your stride and start thinking, way in advance, about the consequences of not thinking in the present. You put all your resources at work and you strategise in every direction visible and possible. And you try to work harder to make things happen.
And then, things do happen. The story you told yourself, it didn’t end just yet. All this, simply because you decided not leave anything to chance.
Now that sounds like magic, doesn’t it? Well, the reality may not be half as exciting as the words above. But this is exactly how events turned out. One after the other in this period of our life which we fondly call the “Period of the Morphosis.” The period that forced us, literally, to develop and extend parts of us in all different directions. (pun intended)
As you read along, you would also realise, how I did nothing, but took a leap of faith. How I closed my eyes and rode the tidal wave, quite certain of the fact that the currents underneath weren’t as dangerous as they seemed to be. And that I would be either carried back safe to the shore or taken on fascinating adventures.
We always knew that we were in Europe for a short but indefinite period of time. At the end of every six months, our stay would get extended by another six. And the story would continue. However, it was not the same the last time. This time, for the first time, we were told that we may have to pack our bags and head to India in about less than a couple of months.
And that’s where it all began. The most unforgettable tale of these incredibly overwhelming three months of our lives. These were the months when the only constant was ‘change.’ A change that was unanticipated, undesired, unwelcome and unfathomable yet, remarkably humbling in equal measures.
After multiple interview rejections owing to absolutely unknown reasons (this always reminded me of my rejections when I looked for jobs two years ago) my husband finally managed to switch over to a job on contract. The new job required him to work remotely for four hours a day, with a remuneration that was less than half of what he drew, otherwise.
Our collective wish to hang around in Europe, for a while longer, was way bigger than the southward movement of the total earnings of the family. We had been witnessing this since we started making the choices- of living a life that was more meaningful to us, instead of to others.
So we took the plunge, yet again. This meant losing out on an array of comforts that our stay at The Apartment Hotel had bestowed us with. Moving out of a company-paid accommodation into a self-paid apartment was not only financially draining but also mentally exhausting.
A couple of weeks passed and we were still glued to our respective screens. Constantly scrolling down, tapping and zooming in and out of the images of various houses. Or we were talking to owners in different localities irrespective of its distance from my daughter’s school. She would have joined from November 2019.
Finally, the one we found and liked, was ready to be moved in. But to our surprise, only from the 1st of July.
Was there a possibility that an entire month could just vanish from our lives rather than looming over us like an endless cloud of uncertainties?
There wasn’t any place available in an AirBnB at a reasonable rate for an entire month on such a short notice. We had to leave the city for sure.
I must say, we were so unprepared for this. We even considered going back to India for a month. But it just wasn’t really fitting into our budget.
Stress. Anxiety. Restlessness. Helplessness. We wore them all on our sleeves at some point. It was imperative for us to keep our cool and take it one day at a time, one step at a time.
What really came to our rescue was our commitment to self-care.
Amidst all the chaos, when we were striving hard to keep the continuity of our life here, we held on tight to our respective passions. These passions helped us immensely while dealing with the situation at hand. My husband continued with his training of the Half Ironman (he eventually let go off it, two months later, and lost around 75% of the registration). On the other hand, I was quite clueless as to figure out my role to reduce the overall stress. So I took refuge in reading endlessly and managed to complete eight incredible books by the end of the month. Now this was something I hadn’t done until then.
Obviously, as you would have guessed, we had no place to stay from the first day of this month. We chose to believe that the universe was conspiring to offer us a positively eventful month. Out of nowhere, we got to travel to Basel, Switzerland for my husband’s new job for the first week.
At the end of this, we had to decide our way forward. Now that either meant looking for cheaper accommodation to spend the rest of the month. This could be anywhere in Europe– as long as we had a place to spend a night at.
We started to look forward to each day, with more excitement, because we had no idea, where would we head next. And as scary as it may sound, it was way too thrilling as well. We were now, all up to make it a hell of an adventure. After all, how often would we get opportunities like this one?
With no luck of finding cheaper accommodations around, we considered renting out a camper van which was also a dream for us – family nomads. This opportunity did fit that dream of ours just right. But 25 days in a van with our little one, without prior experience, that too in peak European summer, seemed way too challenging. And so we dropped the idea.
Instead, to partially experience that dream, we just went ahead and booked a car for 16 days from Strasbourg, France. We did this mostly, because that came cheap and with lesser documentation. Having done that, we still had no idea, what we do with the car for a fortnight or so.
You tend to rake up all your unpleasant memories of the past. And you think of all the times when your social media feed was flooded with pictures of exotic locations that your friends travelled to. We used that to our advantage.
And started getting in touch with all our friends who either lived in Europe or have been to this part of the world to understand what we should be doing next.
Recommendations started flowing in, but who could act on the situation better than us. So taking their suggestions into consideration we drove towards the south of France. Thus began the most memorable 17-day road trip of our lives – covering the French Riviera and South Western Coast of Italy. We drove through close to 5 cities and 15 picturesque villages. Phew!
Meanwhile, the house owner at Konstanz was generous enough to give us the house 5 days prior to the start of the next month, on request.
We moved into this big 2BHK Apartment at a prime location in Konstanz. Everything that defined our life in that city, changed overnight. We were overwhelmed with the surpluses that were at our disposal.
To make things even more attractive, we were empowered with all the machines that could magically finish all the work that we didn’t have at the Hotel. We spent all those June summer afternoons staying indoors. All we did was read, play, cook, savour our favourite dishes, and walk up to the lake or the children’s park in the evening.
The world at the outside may have changed but nothing had moved on the inside. We still held on quite unintentionally to our minimalist way of life. And unpacked the bare minimum. Though we now lived in a bigger space it remained absolutely uncluttered. It took us about a week to stock up the fridge.
In fact, had to try harder to not keep it empty. Lol. And also despite having our individual favourite little corners in the house, we would stick to each other at all times. Probably because we had completely unlearnt the normal way of life in a house otherwise.
The days started to settle in. Having my husband around all the time was just so wonderful and everything seemed so perfect. It felt like we have to be here forever now. Life was so good. In fact great.
We couldn’t be going anywhere else. It was a dream. But, if there was something that wasn’t right, it was him. He wasn’t feeling good about the kind of work that he was doing and wasn’t comfortable with the uncertainty of the project which could have lasted for just a couple of months or more.
And always knew he had to do something about it.
Meanwhile, I didn’t want anything to change, again.
One of the companies he had spoken to a couple of months back, invited him over to their office location, after a round of detailed interview online. And that was it. He got the job – A German contract. And was expected to join ASAP.
What did ASAP mean for us? Just pick up our already packed bags and move to a different city? What about Konstanz, where we had a strange sense of belongingness that we never had anywhere else?
And what about this house, we had moved in about 10 days back and we had started to love every bit of it? What about the school, that Mayra has already got admission into? And what about me desperately waiting for a few hours to myself when she goes to school?
What about everything that has become a part of us only by the virtue of staying in this beautiful city? Do we just abruptly cut every possible chord and put it behind us like it never mattered to us anyway?
He was always aware of his choices and that’s why I think he wasn’t as affected as I was. For a very long time, I didn’t know whether I was happy or sad. It was a mixed feeling – happy for we could finally look forward to a certain life with a steady job and a certainty of staying in Europe for a longer period. But sad that there is yet another change that’s happening to our lives and this time even quicker than it was anticipated.
With every passing day that added up to the day when we had to actually move out, I started to feel better. I accepted my emotions that emerged from the uncertainty of a certain life. And at the end of the week that followed, I knew that this was the best thing that could have happened to us.
I didn’t see it as ‘the end of a great life’, instead ‘the beginning of a greater one’.
Every story or experience has so much to learn from, and this is what we have collectively learned from what conspired in these three months-
Embrace change the way you would embrace your imperfections because resisting either is like robbing yourself of immense joy that lies on the other side. Staying uninhibitedly detached from everything that we loved in our life helped us take quick decisions and move on without any regrets.
Maybe. But the efforts can never be underestimated. Leaving everything on fate and chance would give us sleepless nights while doing the opposite always gave us the confidence in moving in the desired direction.
Keeping our respective passions alive in all circumstances did come to our rescue. And most important of all, we were nomads and we would love to be so.
Despite having a job – that requires one of us to be physically present at work for five days a week. A home that now we pay rent for as opposed to our idea of not growing roots anywhere, the minimal furniture that we had to purchase for a comfortable life, the school that my daughter has eventually joined in here, would always need to be missed, whenever we hit the road.
We have moved to a different geographical space. But the way we had traveled within, in those 22 months of our nomadic life, is a change that can’t be undone. It’s a change that has given birth to a life that’s transcendental.
A version of this was first published here.
Picture credits: Pexels
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Hello! I Am Tanushree - A Digital Nomad Mom, Traveler, Travel & Lifestyle Blogger, Instagrammer, Freelance Writer,
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