Atchafalaya Swamp

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Down the slippery slope

FOUR YEARS AGO when I had last put my thoughts on this blog I had an inkling that for me at least, there is no where to go but down. I was approaching fifty at the time so mid-life "issues" might have something to do with it. Maybe.

I had lost some friends and family over the intervening period. 2013 was the worst though. Apart from my Dad's passing, barely a week after his one of my best friends from high school succumbed to Stage IV colo-rectal cancer. In the weeks leading to the inevitable I was visiting my old man at a hospital 30 miles away, sometimes two three times a day, and also dropping by to see Mole at his sister's house on the way back. By then he was reduced to a shell, naked on his bed lotus position, holding his head with his hands fighting a pain that narcotics can barely alleviate. So you can imagine that I may have needed some emotional rescuing at that point.

Anyway fast forward to 2014. Life went on as usual in the swamps of eastern Borneo. Then the work died down so I was put on loan to the other side of Borneo (the north side). In early April, a day or two before Unker Bernard passed away an email came in. It was sudden and unannounced and was to change my life forever. I was to be transferred lock, stock but with no smoking barrel.

It was the start of my heading down the slippery slope.

To cut the story short just over three weeks later I found myself in George Bush Intercontinental smiling to the CBP officer and showing him my 5-year work visa. That same night I took a connecting flight to the former French town of Lafayette, Louisiana. April wasn't even out yet -the work visa process took only two days in Kuala Lumpur - a record I'm told because that usually takes 60-90 days. Hmm, why is the refrain "we just want your money" keep going round the back of mind?

So I spent two weeks in the bayous just to jump start some 'govment paperwork: Tax ID, SocSec, Coast Guard letters etc and headed back home again to wait for the movers to come collect my worldly possessions from the other side of the world to Port Galveston.

Forgive me if I sound flippant. The process of uprooting one's family to the other side of the world in a space of a couple of weeks is anything but. My long-suffering better half was tasked with solving relocation headaches so it was a stressful time. At least for men my age. We have two school going children you see, a girl in primary and the elder boy in middle school. The school systems and calenders on opposite sides of the world are like night and day, so here they are in the middle of the school year when it's almost coming to an end over there. Then there's the assets and junk one accumulates through more than two decades of marriage; the house, the car, bicycles and what-not (so what should we do with the house, rent it?).

Since these events happened less than two months ago you betcha the house hasn't been rented out yet. And the car hasn't been sold. But the bicycles and kid's toys are on its way though.

And oh, while my family lies languishing in a rented home on the outskirts of north Houston with no furniture (the steamship hasn't arrived yet) and no TV and internet, my employer saw fit to drag me away to the bayous for my first assignment.

You can take the Swampman out of the swamps but the swamps always wins. Period.