Trailing Spouse Syndrome

Quite possibly the worst phrase I have ever had the misfortune of being associated with, and so after 2 weeks here in Shanghai (& it somehow feels longer, but in a good way… mostly) I have decided to rename Trailing Spouse Syndrome as If You Build It They Will Come… my favourite misquote from, quite sadly, one of my favourite films ever.

I have had the pleasure of meeting a whole selection of trailing spouses (upsettingly and somewhat predictably for the balance part of the equation, as yet, none have been male…) but they are not sad, withdrawn, unfulfilled and lacking in direction.  These are vibrant, engaged, energetic women who have arrived in Shanghai, for whatever reason, and where they have found a gap, or a ‘something’ that they wanted but didn’t exist, they have damned well gone out there and built it… And boy am I grateful…

I have eaten well (it’s more than just the social media sausages, there are cracking curries too…), I have found what will hopefully be a great yoga class (to sort out the aches from the scoliosis that my Chinese medical has found that I suffer from…) and I have been welcomed into a house where I officially knew no-one, with the full brood in tow, given wine, food and the time and space for the kids to go crazy – and this is just the beginning. (The best part of this, by far, was when the Dad’s were sent off to the park with the kids to let them run around outside for a while – and us girls got to stay home in the momentary peace and quiet to watch the All Blacks Haka…)

I am amazed and inspired by these women. And not just by what they’ve gone and done. But by the support that they give each other.  It doesn’t appear to be a competition as to who can be better, or best.  It seems to be an honest, supportive network – that likes to see people thrive doing what they love – and then reaping the benefits that come from that.  I’ll eat your sausages, you can come to my spin class.  It seems to work.  From where I am standing right now, on the edge of a new career move, it looks like a rather fine and welcoming place to jump into.  Fingers crossed.

What else have I come across?  Beautiful coffee shops.  Another case of if you build it… Right opposite where we live, as if by magic, a new coffee shop opened on Thursday.  Anywhere with a sign that offers me ‘Library Coffee Life’ has me hooked – add to that a considered, industrial / rustic interior (amazing wood and steelwork),  an artisan flower stall, plus a double height kids soft play… Who told them I was coming?  I will drink my over priced iced coffee there just to ensure that it stays there.

And then there was Maan Coffee – found entirely by accident, after another of our random food shopping trips.  It promised Waffle and Toast. It delivered waffle and toast (a scrumptious ‘plain’ waffle – hot, with crisp edges, dusted in icing sugar – and accompanied, just in case there wasn’t enough sugar already – with maple syrup, jam and whipped cream – with some sugared toast on the side, to dip into our coffee…). But it delivered it in a double height wonderhall of windows and chandeliers, and coloured light housings – just because it could.  I will go here again – even thought its nowhere near anywhere I would ever really need to be – just because it is significantly more beautiful and wonder-inspiring than I could have ever hoped for.  I will pretend to work from here.  I might even actually try and work from there.  Plenty of other people seemed to be trying to…

Trailing Spouse Syndrome
If you build it, they will come
Maan Coffee
Maan Coffee

Trailing Spouse Issues of the Week…

It appears that decent cheese is a luxury item.  I love cheese. Can happily live on it. But it is extortionate out here.  I am curbing my intake.

Probably for the best in the long term, the alcohol and chocolate intake have also dramatically reduced. Although sometimes a stiff drink feels like it has been deserved, I believe that alcohol, combined with the oppressive heat would not lead to an improved family life. I am drinking water. And tea. With UHT milk. Let’s not go there…

We have been so lucky since we got here. We’ve had blue skies mostly every day.  I wake up and open the curtains, and look across some beautiful greenery to an array of skyscrapers and residential areas, and without fail I think “Ah, looks like such a great day to go exploring…” And we get dressed, and gather whatever is needed, and head downstairs, and open the door… And then it hits me… This great, big sweaty wallop of 34 degrees that actually feels like 44 degrees, and I take 2 steps and want to run back indoors.  I walk slowly, oh so slowly, and load the stroller with everything possible so that I don’t actually have to carry anything.  And I squirm when my little man wants to hold my hand, or cling on to me – because he is hot and sweaty and has no idea what to do about it – and I long to be inside.  I dream of Autumn…

And little man starts school tomorrow. Reception here we come…

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