It is hard to believe that I have now been living in Australia for over 10 months. While the time has gone by so fast, it also has been packed with new experiences, changes in how I see the world and my place in it and what matters most in life. I look back and each month was so incredibly different than the last. I feel like I have slowly been unplugging from one Matrix while plugging in to another one. Both have so many similarities that many times I mistakenly assume they are the same and other times I am reminded just how different things are.
As I celebrate my 42nd birthday, I look back to a year ago and think about how this whole adventure began. I was living in the town I grew up in, Redmond, WA. I never really loved Redmond, and cannot really put my finger on exactly why. It was a nice, safe little town, close to everything I could want or need. My commute to work was ideal. Most days I was able to work from my home office and when I did commute to Microsoft, it was a 5 mile drive. The public schools were very good and we lived in a nice, big, happy home. My family was close by and I had some good friends that I could always count on to be there. My work was interesting and the money was great. I drove a nice car and led a nice life. However, I was not happy. I did not realize it at the time as I have always tried to make the most of any situation and overlook that which I could not change. I just always felt something was missing, my whole life, living in Redmond. My 10 years in California were the best 10 years of my life and it was very hard for me to move back to Redmond for work. But I made the most of it and did my best for over 10 years in the Seattle area. We had some great times, made some great friends, and I had two great kids, surrounded by loving grandparents who helped me through the baby years. I think I just got fed up with the WEATHER!!!!
Evan and I were seriously considering moving to back to Southern California but no matter how hard we tried, things just weren't working out. It was like trying to push a rock up hill. We gave up on the idea and just decided to focus on learning to love the area. I felt partially relieved as I knew moving would have created turmoil and I was going to miss my parents and our wonderful nanny. I also had concerns about buying a home given the economic conditions and was concerned about the quality of public schools in CA. I wanted to go, but it just did not feel like the right thing to do at that time, given all that was going on around us. Then one day, just after my 41st birthday, Evan asked me, almost jokingly if I would consider moving to Australia. At first, I joked back but did not think it was possible or sane given that we had two young kids, a home, careers, etc.... But then I started thinking "why not, it is now or never!" I had always wanted to visit but knew that this was the sort of place that you cannot come for just one week. And until the kids were much older, I was not likely to have that kind of vacation time on my hands. So, I told Evan I would do it if he wanted to pursue the job opportunity he was discussing.
For the first five months that I was here, I was both exhilarated by the newness of it all and worried that I had made the wrong choice for my kids. They were amazing and adjusted incredibly well, especially Carson, who is not known for his ability to adjust to new situations. However, it was hard on them, and it came out in the form of tantrums and disagreements about totally unrelated things. Now that they are settled in and happy I am able to look back and know that they were reacting to the changes in their own ways. It was hard to go through a Seattle winter, get a few days of Seattle spring and then move back to the beginning of Winter in the Southern hemisphere. I don't recommend that! Instead, go from summer to summer!
In our 7th month here, we moved in to a great house just after I took an amazing job. Since taking my job and moving in a new house, I have really started to feel like I may belong here. My house is full of light, with windows and doors that open up from wall-to-wall, making my main living area like an indoor/outdoor space. I watch the tropical birds flying around the house and have several eating just outside my window now. I see the ships coming and going in to the harbor, including all of the big cruise ships and I can see the city skyline from the other side of my house. Being here just makes me HAPPY. I have found it very easy to make friends here and have one friend in particular whom I know will be a friend for life no matter where I go. I have been lucky to have several friends like this in my life and feel very lucky to already have one here. That is really all you need!
The thought of moving to California is getting harder and harder for us to consider and I think Redmond is out of the question at this point. We hope to sell the house someday - hopefully to our current tenants. The only thing pulling me back at the moment is my family and a friend or two. I miss them terribly but know that is not reason enough to move again. We are working on establishing permanent residency so that we have the option to stay, and eventually buy a home if we want to. However, I am not making any permanent decisions any time soon. For the first time in my life I am just going with the flow and seeing where it takes me....and most of the time, it feels good. Once in a while I have to fight the urge to control and KNOW where I am going - after all, we never really have control or know...just the illusion that we do. It is just so foreign to me to relax and live in the moment. I think breaking out of my comfortable bubble is what finally allowed me to do that.
It's been nearly a year since I agreed to this crazy adventure and I find myself happy that I took the risk and a better person for all that I have experienced so far. Living in Australia is like going back to a simpler time, where relationships and quality of life are valued above possessions and status. People work hard, but work does not seem to consume them. The schools emphasize social skills and problem solving and put far less pressure on the kids from an academic standpoint, and yet it seems that their system works amazingly well. I am definitely in no hurry to leave and still have so much to see and do before even making a decision. We have agreed not to decide anything for as long as we can avoid making any decisions. It feels liberating. So, here I am...living in the moment. Experiencing new things every day. Life is good when you let go of the reins!