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Thursday, September 1, 2011

The Expensive Princess

As months have gone, it has been an eventful one. Every time I turned around my task list grew. Unexpected bills came my way. Water pipes blew up. And on the last day of August I had one more event that left me both amused and bewildered.

Instead of heading home, I decided to head to downtown Dornbirn and enjoy both a glass of wine and what may have been the last of the warm summer evening - and lucky for me I did not have to do it alone.

My mood was feisty. And over here that also makes me a bit different. The culture is more formal and I am more casual in nature – like most Canadians. Of my two companions I knew one a bit better than the other. The less familiar one seemingly more proper and reserved. However, he too had a day or month that had taken its toll.

One thing I do enjoy about being here is that I can push humour a little more and get away with it. People are just so darn polite – and my being Canadian is a bit of a get-out-of-jail-free-card. One of which I use constantly. Being in a feisty mood only made it worse. However this time my dry humour was being tested and challenged.

It was right about there that I was suddenly called “an expensive princess.”

I have to admit I was shocked. In my nine months of living here I have never had anyone say anything close to such a thing. Maybe from my long-time friend here or from those back home– but not in the circle of my recently acquired Vorarlberg friends. I was used to being treated more “gently”.

The conversation continued for a while longer. The unfiltered sarcasm, barbs and jabs did as well. At one point I noticeably refrained from a response in fear that I would go too far. “Oh go on” said my friend who was quietly watching the evening progress and the conversation digress.

It was my first real evening like that here. Although it is nice being treated gently and with kindness – it felt like a relief to not feel that I had to watch my words and instead just be me - and that it’s not just back home in Kelowna that people will push back.

One thing I have learned is that feeling homesick can manifest itself in different ways. I miss my son more than words can express - my family, friends and home. But what you don’t anticipate is the change that you go through when living elsewhere. As much as I would like to think I have not, I know I have changed a little. I have had to adapt to the unfamiliar structure of society here, and the overall formality. My words are slightly guarded and I am a bit more reserved. But for a few hours I was just me. Unguarded words, loud laugh and pushing the boundaries to see how far I could go…

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