The Expat’s Wife
- By: Brikene Bunjaku
It is dark and I sit by the window watching the passing cars and think back to my days when I was the expat’s wife. I think of the countries I’ve lived in, the people I’ve met, the food I’ve tasted, the air I’ve breathed in, the rain that rained on me, the winds that blew through me, the water that washed over me, the ground I’ve walked on, the sand I’ve touched. I can’t remember my life as an expat’s wife anymore. All that is left are sensations and feelings. Even while going through these experiences, I tried to forget them and push them away. Sometimes life was nice but mostly it was painful and lonely. It was not the life I wanted, but I was the expat’s wife. I was the expat child’s mother. I had everything an expat’s wife needed. Except that I didn’t have anything I needed. I didn’t have anything that was right for me.
And so tonight I sit in here and I watch life happening around me outside my window. I can’t partake in that life; too many planes, airports and shipment containers stand between me and the world around. Too much bureaucracy, bribes, tickets, lists, languages, cultures, frowns, smiles, tears, rocks, guns, machetes keep us apart. I am the expat’s ex-wife now, and there are walls that I need bring down. The walls are high, the bricks are heavy and I can’t see the sky. The walls are thick, no laughter, no warmth, no kindness can seep through. I take one brick down and there’s just emptiness left behind in its place. A vacuum; not even a hole. A hole has dimension, has depth, it is surrounded by something. Nothing surrounds the place where the brick once was.
And so I sit here and watch that emptiness. I try to look through it, around it, in it, over it. But I can’t see anything. What do you do with emptiness, I ask myself? What is the point of bringing down all these bricks, when all there will remain behind is emptiness? Better to sit here and watch the wall, have something to lay my palm against. Feel the smoothness of the stone and the ridges of the mortar holding them together. Feel something. Feel comfort that you can touch something. You can’t feel emptiness. You can’t lay your hand over it; you can’t grab it or bring it down. You can’t chisel it away, no matter how much you try. You can’t touch it.
And so it is that while sitting here I realize. There is one thing that you can do with emptiness!! You can fill it in..
And so I sit here and plan to remove the other bricks away from the wall and try to make plans to fill the emptiness. What do you fill emptiness with? Warmth? Laughter? Kindness? Those are only but enough to fill the emptiness after three bricks.
And so it is that while I sit here that I try to come up with more things to fill the emptiness left behind after the bricks are gone. For the wall is all around me and I can’t see the sky. However, I know there is a sky.
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The author is a former United Nations spouse and for eight years she and their child accompanied her spouse in his duty stations in two continents. Brikene is in the process of settling down and establishing a routine.