Yes, I have lived in Albania for almost two years. While I feel “at home” here, everyday I am reminded that I am, most definitely, a foreigner.
Even though they remain strange or foreign to me, there are a few things that
no longer surprise me after so much time in Albania. I almost don’t notice when my coworkers paint their nails in the office or try and learn the lyrics and dance to Beyonce’s single ladies during work hours. I definitely don’t think twice when each morning and afternoon I interrupt the Bashkia cleaning lady mopping the carpets on the stairs as I walk to and from the office. I automatically factor in about a half hour of extra “go to all the coffee bars and try and find the person” time for each meeting I attempt to have. And, I certainly don’t find it wierd that my landlady’s answer to my house’s lack of electricity during Christmas was to get her husband to go up on a ladder with a screwdriver and split the electric line coming into their home so I could have (albeit weak) light to celebrate by until the electric company fixed it.
While all of these random events might be the day-to-day “normal” of my life these days, one normality that I am certainly not used to is the fact that the thermometer inside my house currently reads around 40 degrees Fahrenheit. It doesn’t surprise me, but it does not make me laugh out loud like most of the other facts of life në Shqiperi.
Thanks, Mom, for having the foresight to bring me my grandmother’s retired down dressing robe! I am “fashionably” sporting it more and more these days.