Kristine wanders

The musings of a wanderer......

Heartbreak in the Time of Quarantine

So sorry my lovely readers. I’d taken a 3 month break from writing. I just couldn’t find the words to describe what has happened over the last 2 months. You see….my world quite literally fell apart. Everything I knew about my life 2 months ago is no more. Pretty much every aspect of my life has changed and it took a long while for me to catch my breath.

Last you knew I was still stuck in Saudi. I finished up my work contract in February, and was set to fly home with Moshen, our Saudi rescue pup at the beginning of April. And then Covid-19 arrived, and like many of you it wiped out any future plans I had. Suddenly, the world was a very uncertain place, and now looking back I really wasn’t coping with the uncertainty very well. This isn’t exactly a tale of Covid, but I’m just painting the backdrop of the story. At that time I was content to hang out in Saudi until my Lufthansa flight was rescheduled, because I didn’t want to risk exposure by traveling and because I was safe with my guy and my pup.

So as the weeks progressed pretty much every couple weeks my new scheduled flight would be canceled. There were some embassy repatriation flights, but you couldn’t fly animals on them so I decided to just sit tight. So April dragged into May. The days were long. I was super unproductive and really anxious. We were mostly on a curfew with our movement being restricted to the area we lived in- so my only real outings were to the grocery store. Thankfully, we were living on a large western compound so we could go out walking. There was a period of time when we were on 24hr lock down and couldn’t leave the compound though. Anyways, without going into a whole lot of detail my guy and I broke up. Or more precisely, he broke up with me. I did not see it coming.

I was devastated. I booked onto the next American embassy organized repatriation flight via Washington DC which was about a week and a half later. While the Canadian embassy did have some occasional flight options they required multiple flight connections for me to get home, so I opted not to take them. I spent that week and a half struggling to make sense of what was happening while still sharing an apartment with him. It was agony. At times it felt like I couldn’t breathe. I cried what felt like all the time. Also, because it was a repatriation flight taking Moshen with me was no longer an option. I had always thought I’d come back to Saudi Arabia a country that has really become a part of me, but that dream of coming back always involved coming to visit my boyfriend. Without that connection it felt like I was losing any future plans of returning. It was just layers and layers of loss and grief.

How I made it to the airport the morning of my flight I’ll never know. Those of you who have said goodbye to people you love not knowing if you’ll ever see them again can understand. If you’ve never had to do this count yourself lucky. We had to carry special embassy permission for him to drive me as we were under a 24hour curfew then and without it he could’ve been fined at one of the check points. We were both emotional. I’ll never forget that goodbye or the last kiss I gave Moshen. Even weeks later I can’t type this without stirring up all those fresh emotions.

I flew from Riyadh direct to Dulles airport. Oddly there was no Covid screening upon arrival which was strange. I spend the night at a nearby hotel and then flew to Seattle the next morning to spend a night with my bestie, who then drove me up to the Canadian border. I am so beyond thankful for getting to see her. With the Canadian/American border being closed I think it will likely be sometime in 2021 before I get to see her again. From here I entered quarantine at an Airbnb apartment I had booked. In Canada you can’t quarantine with anyone over 65 years old so staying with my parents wasn’t an option, and I really didn’t want to risk exposing them if I’d picked it up on either of my flights.

So breakups are never fun, but going through a breakup and then being forced to sit alone inside with your thoughts for 2 weeks is no joke. There’s no “let me get my headphones and go for a walk” or meet up with my friends to drink as much wine as it takes to forget about all this. Thankfully, my quarantine did have wine which likely was the only thing that got me through. I told my friends that if I survived heartbreak quarantine I would leave it a fu$#ing warrior. Well I did survive it, but I think the warrior part is taking a bit longer. Slowly I’m feeling more and more myself.

So that’s where I’ve been. Wading through all these murky emotions of loss and grief over the life I thought I’d have with someone I still very much love. I’m learning to let it go. I’m trying to fill this massive hole with other things. You see it’s not just my partner that I lost, he was my best friend. My person. That’s honestly been the hardest part. And of course I miss Moshen so much also but I know he’s being taken care of.

Then on top of that there’s the adjustment of returning home after living a life abroad. My fellow expats know all too well how challenging this is to re-acclimate to old lives. To fit back into familial roles and reestablish friendships. I think the reason many of us become serial expats is because we can never quite fit ourselves back into our home countries. We get used to the ridiculous daily things that happen outside of our countries of birth and learn to thrive under those conditions. Once you’ve spent years living in Saudi Arabia I can assure you that normal life in Canada feels quite boring in comparison. There’s not weird broken Arabic/English convos with the taxi driver or check out person at the grocery store. Everything you are looking for is surely in stock. Gone are the days of finding the peanut butter brand you love and having to buy 6 of something because you know you’ll not find it again for at least the next 6 months. No older covered women are trying to pet my hair in aisle 4. No one is trying to stare me into marrying them. It’s all very ordinary.

But I have to remind myself that I was planning to come back to Canada before the breakup. While I did actually really love living and traveling in Saudi Arabia, I no longer wanted to work as a nurse there. I no longer wanted to work where I was working. So although I didn’t leave under the circumstances I’d planned to, I was still planning to leave. I just thought our relationship would be able to survive the distance. And I have to keep reminding myself that the heart heals. I am so thankful for this love that I got to share. It only took me 39 years to meet someone who made my heart expand more than I knew it was capable of. This will happen again.

So right now I’m in the process of change. I’ve just bought a new car and next month I’m starting a new job, in a new place, with new memories. I hope this post isn’t too much, it took me a long time to get to the point of sharing. I believe that healing comes from being vulnerable. It’s also just going to take time- it was a nearly 2 year relationship and that’s not something a person can move on from overnight. In the words of the Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu “New beginnings are often disguised as painful endings.”

Also I’m calling copyright on the title of this post in the event I want to use it when I write my memoir. Which given my lack of discipline is likely to be never. More to come. Hopefully sooner than another 3 months.

14 Comments

  1. Thanks for sharing hun! That’s all very tough, and I was wondering what other layers there were to the unfolding of you finally returning home. Don’t worry most people here don’t think this is Canada where you’re moving anyways 😂. Can’t wait to share in on some Canadian Kristine Wanderings!

    • kristinewanders

      July 12, 2020 at 7:34 pm

      Lo,

      Yes, we will definitely be doing some adventuring once I get myself settled. It’ll be nice to have a friendly face there!

      Kristine

  2. Hi Kristine: So sorry to hear of the break-up and most of all having to say good-bye to your pooch. It is a lot to take in and the quarantine/covid situation is not helping. I have admired your spunk which is you and in a few months I expect you will find your mojo to make a good life for yourself. Your family and friends will always love you. I am a once removed (I think) but I have enjoyed reading your blog and keeping up with your travels. Give yourself some time. hugs, Xtine

    • kristinewanders

      July 12, 2020 at 7:33 pm

      Christie,

      Thank you so much. It’s been hard, but I’ll get through it!

      Kristine

  3. Karen Montieth

    July 12, 2020 at 7:50 pm

    I am saddened by the unanticipated and sudden losses your are dealing with. And yet, I am so very happy that you are safe , I.truly I concerned for your safety amidst the ever changing Middle Eastern polices and politics. I thought of you when the news that Hagia Sophia was being returned to a Mosque, which was announced just yesterday. Your wonderful photos and descriptions are the only knowledge and mental image of that world treasure which I will have. I am so thankful for your gift of photography , travel and your words sharing your life experiences. As you heal may you find more joy than sorrow with each step in the process. Sending you Peace and Love 💖

    Karen

    • kristinewanders

      July 21, 2020 at 7:39 pm

      Karen,

      Thank you so much for your lovely comments. Time is a true healer and each day it gets just a little but better. I’m so glad you enjoyed my Turkey photos- Istanbul is a remarkable city and the Hagia Sophia it’s greatest treasure. Buildings in the Middle East are always flipping between church to mosque and in rare instances back again. It’s hard to imagine as it’s such an eraser of history. I hope you are staying safe amongst these uncertain times. Hugs to you.

      Kristine

  4. Elfriede MUNDT

    July 12, 2020 at 11:11 pm

    Hi there fellow expat. I know some of how your feeling things happened at different stages gor me than slam dunk all ar once. Still in limbo in aus hopefully allbeing well I will be back in my own home with lots of friends and family around me. Will have to wait neanwhile at least work and can save. Things do work out but the added problem we have at the moment stinks and the number of people not towing the line is increasing they are not being fair on anyone. Big hugs to you. Have thought of you often lol Fred

    • kristinewanders

      July 21, 2020 at 9:07 pm

      Fred,

      Thanks for you message- I think only other expats can understand how hard a transition it is to return to our home country! Stay safe!

      Kristine

  5. Hi Kristine,

    It’s been a long time! I’m sorry to hear that you’re going through heartbreak. It sucks. But, out of it, comes a great title.

    And , yeah, our “normal” Western life (not Saudi, not India). can be pretty vanilla after the surprises and craziness of travel. But I hope you also find it’s good parts.

    When COVID is behind us, or, at least, manageable, maybe we can rendezvous somewhere. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy your new job, your old and new friends, and being home.

    With love,

    Marilyn

    • kristinewanders

      July 21, 2020 at 9:10 pm

      Marilyn,

      Thank you so much- it’s such a strange time right now with Covid and it makes everything just that much harder. I’m looking forward to starting work next month and for a fresh start with new memories! Stay safe and yes I’d love to meet up some point in the future. Stay safe. Praying for major change for you guys come November!

      Kristine

  6. God bless you with a new future and many new friends.

  7. Hi friend,
    I just saw your you tube video interview I think it was with GV travel and then I was like wait I thought she was back in Canada. You looked fantastic. I’m sorry I never thought that you’d be stuck. I have been traveling for my job and almost got stuck in Chicago but at least not out of the country like you. I was only bummed that they were closing their city instead of dying the river green for St Pats. I made it back here in time to watch the riots and be glad that I changed neighborhoods a couple years ago otherwise I would’ve been in the middle of the protests. Anyways sorry about the breakup. Being single in quarantine is just lonely in and of itself so trying to process all that life recently dealt you is going to be rough. Getting back to work and/ or being busy helps. I myself am sad that I not only didn’t get to go to Europe in April and also a fam cruise last month but that I’m likely not going to be able to go anywhere this year. I mean I’m super close to 82 countries myself if you subtract a good portion. And to think I knew you when you were on your first adventure. Shutterfly recently popped up a remember when for me and it was our girls cruise. I’m super glad that you made it home safely. Someday maybe I’ll venture back into social media but it’s been a good sabbatical . Take care.
    Jenny

    • kristinewanders

      July 21, 2020 at 9:12 pm

      Jenny,

      That booze cruise was such a ridiculous string of events I shall always remember it fondly! I’m glad you changed neighbourhoods- I have a friend who lives in Cap Hill and he had tear gas wafting into his apartment- these are crazy times for sure. Whenever the border reopens we will have to have a catch up for sure!

      Kristine

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