Since we moved to Lebanon, we have had to learn how to live on a very small budget. We didn’t move here for the money and knew that we would have to make certain adjustments, however we had not foreseen that it would be this big of a difference. Living here is really expensive! While we had some room before during our life in Cairo, after only the most necessary bills (rent, insurance, electricity, and gas) and food have been paid for every month here, we have nothing left. There are no extras: no internet, no phone, no car, no trips, and if anything comes up, like Christmas, birthdays, holidays, or if the boys grow and need new clothes or shoes (which you can imagine happens all the time), we have to use our savings (which were not very large to begin with and will be gone soon). It is disquieting.
Having to always be careful about money can be energy draining, because it influences the way you are able to live your everyday life. I’ve read hundreds of articles on how it shouldn’t, and how there are so many things you can do with little to no money – all it takes is a little finesse – and we have adjusted to our situation pretty well. We use the university facilities a lot, and do fun things that don’t really cost anything, like reading, sports, playing, walking, etc. However sometimes I am painfully reminded of our meager situation. Like during Easter, which seems to be the time to get out of town. To be able to hop in a car (I don’t think I know anyone here who doesn’t have a car) and explore the country for a few days; see the sites, go hiking or skiing, visit Tripoli or Tyre or even Syria – how amazing that would be! But we can’t. It is also around this time of the year that I start making a list of next year’s schoolbooks and supplies – even wishing I could send out a quick order to add to this year’s material – but the way things stand for the moment, I can’t order anything. I’m printing out worksheets that I find on (our almost non-existent) internet, or make them myself, but it would be so nice to be able to get the actual math tests that go with the curriculum we’ve been using, or get the next grammar book in the series for August before he forgets everything.
Now this is turning into a rant, which I didn’t intend. What I wanted to say was something positive. No, we haven’t been able to travel like we’re used to - we are pretty much confined to walking distance of our apartment. The silver lining is that since we’re fairly immobile, I and everyone else in the family have been able to do things we didn’t have time for in Cairo, like very time-consuming art projects, a lot of reading, sewing, creative writing, and in spending so much time together, we’ve been able to develop our intellectual and emotional relationships more than ever before. Despite our lack of funds we’ve managed to keep ourselves busy – just not the same kind of busy as we are used to. As a consequence, I haven’t been very confident in my blogging and my account of our life here in Beirut: I just don’t know how to recount our current life – it’s not exciting travels and encounters any more, but something else.