holidays

The forced web Detox (or how I coped with digital rehab)

I love Detoxes. I have done them all and never got tired of the concept. There is even something mystical about it: the idea of arriving at some point of exhaustion, gathering the courage to suffer a little bit and eventually finding peace in a period of self-inflicted deprivation. Sugar, coffee, dairy, tea, carbs, mere food. I have done them all. At some point I read of a make-up fast and a mirror fast and was sincerely intrigued without passing to action, though. I am frankly scared of running around without knowing what I look like. Everyone has his weak point, I guess.

One thing is deciding to go on a fast. I love that. Another one is to wake up one morning and – tada!!!! – someone tells you it’s over. You ARE on a fast.  It’s what happened to me since the last time I posted. After my 50s splurge on the Amalfi coast we picked up the kids, boarded a Ryanair flight and landed in Sardinia. 

We were welcomed by our landlady, a stunningly beautiful woman in her early 50s, who candidly announced that there was no wi-fi in the house. “You know, i never use the Internet when I am on holidays”, she said, looking at us with her almond-shaped blue eyes. My heart sank. My mobile data subscription had just been cut, since I had spent all of my monthly 500 MB looking for news of the royal baby on Twitter. (I find nativity plays way more entertaining than economic forecasts, what did I just write on weak points?)

So my web Detox started. I tried to catch a signal (phone wasn’t working all the time, either) in order to send one last email but it didn’t go through. There I was, in a summer paradise without any chance to communicate with the outside world.

I am a net geek. I believe the World Wide Web is the greatest invention in modern history and have been using it daily since I first digited the http:// on a university pc, back in the 90s. Cutting me from the web is like sending me on a mirror fast. I simply can’t cope. 

Then the withdrawal symptoms started.

I would wake up in the middle of the night and take nervously my phone, hoping for a miracle. A glimpse of a news website. A mere minute to use WordPress. There were no surprises. I spent a whole vacation on text messages, as I had done 20 years ago. I read news on proper newspapers and went on without any late night whatsapping consolation. 

I hated it.

 

The symptoms eased after the first week but when I got back home I needed a couple of days in the decompression chamber to return to the digital world without risks of overdosing.

I told The Husband to never do that to me again. Holidays without the Internet.

What is your worst detox nightmare? 

Going home and living in a bubble: when you take a holiday from expatriation

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Everybody needs a holiday once a year. Some need physical rest, some others a change of scenery. Some need time to spend with their loved ones and yet some need space to find their true selves. My expat self (which counts for a shocking percentage of the whole thing) needs its own vacation from time to time. Going to the homeland is not enough, as an expat often goes through a phenotypic transformation that prevents any true relaxation in familiar surroundings. I have to confine myself to my parents’ house, in the middle of a sun-kissed countryside, rich in olive trees and vineyards and cats. And not much else, to be honest. Here I am not an expat, nor a mother and not even an adult. It’s my personal Neverland.

My two decades of expatriation translate to my parents as a series of odd and worrying eating habits (some years I rant about the importance of organic, some others on my new egg-dairy-wheat free regimen, this year I am all into protein and greens powder in my morning smoothie…); a mild weight gain related to growing old, having kids and living in a sun-deprived country and maybe (maybe!) a surge of occasional wisdom. That’s it. They never asked a single question on how life is out of the national borders or who I made friends with or what people say, up there, about us down here. They don’t care. I am just their child and as unnerving as it was in the early expatriation years, when I just wanted to tell them over and over again how cool I was for living abroad my little adventure, I ultimately find it relaxing. The show is over for a few weeks and since none is interested in my personal philosophy I can even take some time off from my usual rantings.

My children are the actual stars of the season and I can’t even compete. Who’d want to spend time with an almost middle-aged and compulsively dieting child when you can hang around with a couple of blondish, angelic-faced little things who will love you more for every candy you hand them? And what child would obey to the same ol’ lady he sees and hears every day when reality suggests she’s not boss anymore?

So that is how I stop being a mother in my little home bubble . My children don’t recognize my authority anymore and deliberately choose to follow the grandparents’ lead. Which is always sugar-coated. Literally.

There was a time when I tried revolution. You know, teenage style. Like telling my parents all the time how child rearing was a different story up north, how they were stuck in pre-liberal era, how we should educate children to become independent individuals and not spoiled pets. How plastic toys were to be banned, as were DVDs and candies. How mine was a sugar free house and how “youknowsugarisreallybad”, how modern people live now and eat healthily and so “no carbs please, what with all that pasta?”. It didn’t work. I didn’t insist.

I now enjoy this magic place where I can retreat to my room as my 16 years old self (minus the oily skin and the perpetual love chagrin) and when I occasionally switch on my hearing to catch my mother telling her grandsons that “there is a big, nasty man going around houses to take away all the naughty children” in the same way her mother used to talk me into eating my lunch I don’t care anymore. I’ll tell them later there is no such thing as the nasty man, in case they’d be actually worried about him. In the meantime I’ll just lie down and savor the free time.