It happened with chocolate cake.
The realisation that new my new life had in fact, become ‘normal’; the split second recognition of doing things that had only months ago been a challenge, were now being done without conscious thought.
Baking my high school chocolate cake recipe was that moment. It meant I had instinctively made my own self raising flour (impossible to buy here) and mastered the microwave size convection oven.
It sounds trite I know, but when you’ve spent nearly eight months really having to think about how to do the normally mundane tasks of day to day life, the realisation is both a blessing and a let-down.
Up until recently, nearly all tasks have required careful thought – every time you step into the car, it’s necessary to map the easiest route ahead of time and to consider where and how to park in an environment that has little to no structure and order. It’s taken me eight months to finally conquer the five road intersection at the end of our road, where all traffic converges and there are no rules about who stops for whom. To increase the complexity, they add a pedestrian crossing right in the middle. Food shopping requires precision planning – where to buy all the necessary groceries in order to cook familiar meals can take three locations. Posting a letter requires having the request translated ahead of time so you could present it to the girl at the counter. Essentially, the simplest of tasks were big adventures. Or challenges. Or nuisances. Or paralysing barriers. It all depends on your frame of mind on any given day.
Either way, it was a constant reminder that my life was different and that I had to always be engaged in the moment and what I was doing. This means that you are consistently and acutely aware of all that is going on around you and how you are responding. Something I had come to find both exhausting and exhilarating.
In recent weeks however, I’ve become increasingly aware that I now carry out my day to day tasks without second thought. Driving, parking, shopping and any other routine task is completed (relatively) easily. We’ve even started to entertain at home – something I was pretty convinced we would never do.
And whilst it’s a relief on so many levels, it also means my perpetual wonder and intense learning period is over. This is the let-down.
It’s a new kind of normal though. It’s still not as familiar and easy as home for obvious reasons, but the differences remain endearing and welcome. At a girls lunch this week, the discussion was on who was heading to the snowfields this weekend (a weekly ‘given’), which kids were off to play in the school soccer team in Norway and Denmark, who was having eye and/or skin laser treatment (ridiculously cheap and good here), and where everyone was travelling to this year. We all lamented that we’d probably each only get three or four international trips in 2015, before the realisation hit that this was nothing to complain about.
See……a new kind of wonderful ‘normal’. And you will never hear me complaining.