An anxious expat

Whilst I was in Cambridge last week, things were starting to accelerate with the spread of the Coronavirus that causes COVID19. News from America and in the UK was just starting to get worrying and people were beginning to panic buy supplies to be prepared for the unknown. But even then, it didn’t really seem “real” or as if it would have a real impact on life here in the UK or at home in America. But by the time I settled in back at my cottage outside of Edinburgh, universities around the world were starting to cancel classes and people were beginning to work from home in droves.

And now, social distancing has become a thing. Isolation has become a thing. And in many ways, fear has become a thing. Fear. Anxiety. Stress. All these things have become part of my daily life in recent days.

I think that my biggest worry is “what should I do?” You know, the one where I start to wonder if I should run to my parents to help and protect them or stay where I am to help and protect myself. And there really is no way to know what the right choice is because both choices would have long-term, potentially life-long, consequences (good and bad, I imagine).

As an expat living 6,000 miles away from home, away from my parents whom I miss and love very much, I quite often feel the painful struggle of having one heart torn between two homes. I have lost track of the number of times when I have wondered about my long-term future and the best place to settle down. And now… well, now that the world is shutting down to hide from this deadly virus, I am feeling overwhelmed with the struggle and all the related emotions.

As I (try to) do most Sundays, I had a Skype chat with my folks this evening. I let them know that I was conflicted and that I didn’t know what to do. And they, in their wisdom, told me what I probably knew all along: The best thing for me to do is to stay where I am. That’s not the easiest thing, but yeah, it’s probably the best thing; the safest thing; the smartest thing.

I am best to stay here because that will be the best option for job opportunities (there’s something in the works here, where I’d be unemployed if I returned). If I return, I will have no health insurance. If I return, I will be returning to a place that is a “hotbed” for COVID19 at the moment – not to mention the risks of mass public transport at this time. Where if I stay here, I can isolate; I can protect myself.

But that’s hard because that means I can’t be there to make sure they are safe. (Give me a break, they are both US Marines, each with more than 70 years’ life experience. They don’t need a young whippersnapper like me coddling them!) It’s hard because there is a very real risk that I will not get to say goodbye if the worst were to happen (a risk that I am always well aware I face as an expat!).

And so, I will stay. I will stay here in the (hopeful) safety of my rural cottage, relying on technology to keep me connected to my parents and the rest of my family and friends around the world. I will stay, and I will do my best to overcome the anxiety that this frightening time has brought to my heart and soul.

I think I will have to speak with my folks a bit more often over the next several weeks… and I will just have to hope that they don’t get tired of me video chatting. But it will help me to feel better about our distance, and hopefully, it will help them feel better about it, too.

And I will pray that this is all behind us soon so that I can plan a holiday to the Homeland, and the arms of my parents. I will pray that it is not long before I can be with them again. I will pray that we all get through this scary time with as little heartache as possible.

Stay safe and stay healthy, Dear Readers. And stay in touch with the people you love!

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