It is currently pouring with rain and I’m wearing jeans and a cardigan, and I’m starting to lose faith in the traditional weather-based seasons here in Turin. (At least we had a summer here this year, unlike last year!) So I want to propse a new set of seasons, that aren’t about the weather. They’re the Living Abroad Seasons. There’s four of them, so that’s nice and traditional, although up-front disclaimer: they’re not equal in length, which jars against my need for symmetry, but oh well.
The current season is August, aka, Nothing Is Happening Here, Get Out of Town Season. Turin’s one of those Italian cities where everyone clears off to the mountains and/or the seaside for as much of August as possible. Shops close, there’s no traffic even in peak hour, the mailboxes in my apartment are piling up with uncollected letters. Normally I’d also be out of town for mid-August, but this year I somehow managed to arrange things so I arrived back in Turin on the 15th. Ghost town. It’s peaceful, in a way.
And August is a good break to psych up for People Arriving Season in September/October. People come back from holidays, either tanned (if they’re Italian) or sunburnt (if they’re like me). The university year starts, as do many fixed-term jobs, and new people arrive in town. I am every stereotype of an introvert, but I love meeting new people. (I just need a lie down in a dark room afterwards.) Finding out where people are from, why they’re here, noticing shared interests, it’s all great. People Arriving Season is my favourite Living Abroad Season.
The next season is the Long Season. Work. Socialize, in a more normal way now that not everyone is a new face. Slog through winter. Daydream of summer holidays. Christmas, New Years. Maybe travel somewhere fun over the Easter weekend. Become closer friends with people. Drift apart from others. Once the novelty of living away from where you grew up wears off, this is the season that looks like “real life”.
And then we get to Goodbye Season, in June-July. The university year ends, and so do those fixed-contract jobs, and over the course of a few weeks easily half of the new friends you made in September will have moved on to new things. It’s an exciting time, because people are going to do all sorts of interesting things and you get to be happy for them. But because I sort of snuck out of Perth when I left, I never really did the goodbye thing there (sorry everyone!) and I was in no way prepared for how exhausting Goodbye Season would be until I experienced it for myself. Constantly thinking, “will I ever see them again, I wonder?” is a bit of a downer, it turns out.
Sometimes I daydream of moving everyone I know and love to the same city — or inventing teleportation — so that I can keep all my friends nearby. And of course I could settle down somewhere and have a stable group of friends that I see every week for years and years. I know people who have based their lives around stability and it’s suiting them splendidly. But I suspect life isn’t as stable as it sometimes looks, and for now I’ll choose the highs and lows of instability.