Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

Death and the Expat

After four years, this settling down thing still chafes. As one fellow expat says “it’s like being squeezed into a box that’s too small” and she is talking about returning to her own community after several years abroad.

I think I wasn’t wired for settling down.

Even changing the furniture around, which I start doing after a couple years in one place, doesn’t really satisfy that urge for new challenges, new ways of thinking, a need to be on your toes, to be observant of all around you because nothing is the same as where you came from.

But one thing about settling down is a huge challenge – death.

When you are living in Expat World, death barely touches you. For one thing, you’re in a working environment, which implies you are young enough and healthy enough to be working. If someone dies, you fly back home and grieve the person, then fly back to where you are working and life goes on. That person isn’t missing from your daily life. You are distracted from grieving by the differences; there are not so many things around to remind you that the person is no longer there.

Being settled, it is an entirely different story. You get used to people, and then, often suddenly, that person is no longer around. You’re still going to all the places you used to see that person, but that person is not there, and never will be again. You think “I’ll just call so-and-so” and then you realize she’ll never answer your call again.

This is all new. Sure, expats move away, but there is always that chance you will run into them again – happens all the time in Expat World. You can call and make plans to meet up somewhere, you can gather for kids weddings. In settled-down world, death puts a big stop to that. It’s a screeching, endless dead-end.

I lost a friend this week, a woman who has been kind to me since the day I walked into the church. She made me feel welcome and she made me feel loved, and like I belonged there. It wasn’t just me, she was kind and welcoming to everyone, and a lot of fun to be around. I hugged her the day before she died as we had a quick greeting in the Parish Hall. I adored her, and I admired her, and she leaves a big hole in my heart.

I don’t wish her alive again; she lost her husband just months ago, and I know in my heart that my grief is my own, that she is happy to be with her departed husband. But this death stuff is painful. It makes me want to run get on a plane and go somewhere else, to go away from this infinite feeling of loss. To my chagrin, I also think this is a piece of growing up that I ran away from for a long time, and am learning later in life than most people.

We are still grieving the loss of Pete. He is buried in the butterfly garden, so he is nearby. We second-guess ourselves all the time, going over our choices, regretting having caused him any pain and anguish as he lived his last week. I hear the tinkle of his little name tag and forget it can’t be Pete; my husband steps over where he would lie in the hallway, equidistant between our offices. This death stuff is hard.

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July 31, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Flounders at Pensacola Beach, Revisit

Pensacola Beach gets crazy this time of year – and what is not to love? Days of sunshine, surf temperature in the 80’s, and fine white sand, really white – it’s gorgeous.

If the Blue Angels are flying, or if it’s the 4th of July weekend, we can forget about the beach – the traffic over the bridges to the beach is blocked for miles. When the Blue Angels were flying, we could see the traffic backed up all the way to Cervantes, in central Pensacola. People were gridlocked on the bridge, and just watched from there – there were no more parking spots, none, out on Pensacola Beach.

But the madness has passed, normal times have returned, and I have a yearning for Flounder’s Fish Tacos. Ahhhhh, comfort food, with so much lettuce and tomato and salsa that it SEEMS healthy, even though the fish is undeniably . . . umm . . . . er . . .. fried.

00FloundersFishTacos

These are listed in the appetizer section. Who on earth could eat this as an appetizer? At my hungriest, I can eat two, and still have one to take with. But so delicious, so perfect for a hot summer day.

AdventureMan has the seafood platter, which he loves, and he, too, has plenty to take home, the portions are so huge.

00FloundersGrilledSeafood

Life is sweet – we found a parking place close to Flounders and while it was a drizzly day, it didn’t rain on us. Flounders was full of people, but not so packed we had to wait for a table. Service was, as always, fast, fun, efficient and very welcoming – they are so attentive, no matter how busy.

We left happy, and once my fish taco meter starts going up again, we will head back.

July 31, 2014 Posted by | Eating Out, Living Conditions, Local Lore, Pensacola, Quality of Life Issues, Restaurant, Weather | , , | 2 Comments

The Macaroni Grill in Pensacola, FL

For the most part, AdventureMan and I stay away from national chains. One time in the last couple of years we tried Olive Garden, and, like many of the chains, they had gone to using “pre-formed” meats – how do you think they got all those dishes to look so uniform?

But Macaroni Grill is – or was, it’s all unclear now – a part of the Outback Chain, and Outback will always have a place in my heart because of their open-handed support when I worked for an educational foundation, raising money for scholarships. They were a joy to work with, and so generous to our scholarship recipients.

So we decided to give the Macaroni Grill a try. Here is what the entry at the Cordova Mall looks like.

00MacaroniGrillExterior

I had the Caesar Salad, which was very good, fresh, great dressing:

00MacaroniGrillCeasarSalad

I also had the Chicken Marsala, which had three chicken cutlets, real chicken, not pre-formed, not identical, with angel hair pasta. The Marsala sauce had barely a hint of Marsala, but it was pretty good. I’d prefer a little more Marsala taste. It was plentiful, and I had enough left over for dinner, too.

00MacaroniGrillChickenMarsala

AdventureMan had the lasagna, which he said was really good! His portion was so huge, he also had enough for dinner and I don’t think he was able to finish it, there was so much.

00MacaroniGrillLasagna

Service was prompt and efficient. We asked the server if all the food was prepared here, or prepared elsewhere and sent semi-prepared, and she said, with great pride, that all the food was prepared daily, on-site. You could see into the open kitchen, and chefs and assistants were back there busily preparing meals – all a good sign.

We probably won’t go back, just because there are two or three other Italian places in town we like better, but it is a perfectly decent restaurant with above average food, very clean, good service and convenient if you are at the Cordova Mall.

July 31, 2014 Posted by | Cooking, Eating Out, Food, Living Conditions, Pensacola, Quality of Life Issues, Restaurant, Shopping | 1 Comment