The other day my husband commented on how impressed he was that I ride my bike in the rain.
“Well,” I said, “we’re in Denmark, that’s what you do here.” Dramatic pause. “I’m adaptable.”
In fact, I’m so freakin’ adaptable that I’m practically a chameleon. Like walking, talking camouflage. Plonk me down and I’ll change color just enough to blend in. In New York, I wore (my beloved) Prada shoes and rode the subway. I was Lady of the L to Canarsie, Countess of Mass Transit. I walked fast, talked fast, and swore like a sailor. In Cyprus I wore short, drapey dresses and peep-toe sandals and learned to drive again. On the wrong side of the road, in a place where road rules are optional at best. In Denmark I have found a penchant for fur hats and cowboy boots and I ride my bike, often getting passed by elderly women who ride like Lance Armstrong. In the rain.
Like I said, adaptable.
When you move across the world, adaptability is not just a nice trait to have, it’s a survival mechanism. Anyone who has moved, be it down the block or a few thousand miles away, knows that things will change. But it’s not always equal opportunity change. For the working partner, the change is often minimal. A different office layout, a different route to work. Maybe a new stapler. But for a non-working partner, left to navigate the perils of a foreign supermarket and the quirks of the local electricity board, not to mention the playground politics of a new school (and I mean for the grown ups—the kids get along just fine), the changes are many, varied and at times, overwhelming. Throw in a new currency, a new language, local customs and not knowing where to get your hair cut and adaptability becomes key.
But instead of lamenting the loss of things you are used to doing, embrace the opportunity. The beauty of moving is that you can re-invent yourself, over and over again. Always fancied yourself more motorcycle boots than mom jeans? Brilliant, now is the time. Were you shy back in grade school? Now you can be the social butterfly you always knew you had inside you. And no one will be the wiser. I suggest you start with shoes.
The trick is changing color enough to blend into your new surroundings, but retaining enough of yourself so that you recognize the person staring back at you in the mirror.
Point in case: I still walk fast, talk fast and swear like a sailor. Some things never change.