You can prepare for moving abroad in lots of practical ways. Brush up on the language. Plan a new business or some other way of earning money. Give all your crap to the charity shop…
One thing we weren’t prepared for – and it sounds really dumb to say this – is that our new life would involve spending every waking moment together. Under each other’s feet. In each other’s hair. At each other’s throats, sometimes.
Working together, when we were so used to having separate working lives. Making important decisions together, when we’re used to acting independently. Managing a renovation project together, when we’re completely different people who go about things in preposterously different ways.
Because, when you move to Bulgaria with your partner, husband, wife, significant other, blow-up companion, you’re together all the damn time – at least in the early days, when you’re renovating a house, getting used to your new surroundings, building this new life together.
There’s nowhere to hide the crazier aspects of your personality, like how writing endless lists gives you a sense of control, and how you talk to yourself when you think no one’s looking. (Speaking hypothetically, obviously.) And you can’t get drunk and bitch to your mates when he drives you up the fucking wall because your mates are 2,000 kilometres away.
You’re reliant on each other in a new, weird way. Especially if, like us, you don’t throw yourself into an ex-pat community of Brits. For a long time, you’ve only got each other to talk to – really talk to, I mean. Even now, my Bulgarian conversation skills are equivalent to a small, not particularly bright child. If I want to be funny, or mean, or devastatingly clever, I can only do it in English. And there’s only one person in the vicinity who’ll understand me.
There’s not much you can do about all this, other than embrace the odd raging argument, get silly drunk together at regular intervals, and be as kind to each other as you can muster. It gets easier when you’re no longer living in a building site, and you’ve settled into a normal daily routine. And before you know it, the idea that you used to go off to separate places for nine hours (or more) each day is completely alien. It’s weird to think there was a time when we didn’t cook lunch together every day while listening to PopMaster.
And then, every so often, your partner will bugger off back to England to see their family and it’ll be like a delicious holiday for both of you!
Rob’s back home with his folks right now, and while I obviously miss him (not just because he makes the best coffee and deals with whatever creatures the cats drag in), I’m also enjoying having sole command of the TV (hello, Twilight), cultivating some impressive body hair, and talking to myself all day long. What? No you’re a big fat square who doesn’t know how to have fun.