Well it’s been a few days of good things! I went to the correct playgroup on Wednesday which was again a great experience. Next week, we are taking all the kids to a nearby island for lunch—sounds fun! We spent a lot of time trying to finish up my immigration paperwork and ran errands related to that on Thursday morning. We got it all done and in the mail that evening—such a relief! Now one constant project is complete—-until they respond, but for now all we do is wait. Another huge project wrapped up on Friday when we successfully picked up our 22 boxes, straight from Colorado. Customs here are a bit over the top and charged us $100 to destroy my Halloween wreath and a Christmas snowman, which actually made me both sad and annoyed because together they probably cost $20, but they are just sentimental to me, my little pieces of home. I didn’t get to keep much of my little treasures when I came here, and to charge me to destroy something so little and harmless really bothered me. Oh well…I guess you can’t really dwell on that stuff.
Friday afternoon we went down to the Gold Coast, where the surf is, for the boys’ first time. The locals all call it the coast, which sounds funny to me, because almost everywhere we go is on the coast, in my eyes, but this is not the coast of a bay, but rather the true open ocean. It was gorgeous and the boys got such a huge thrill playing in the sand and waves—it was so fun to watch. And Anna’s family graciously welcomed us into their home and made a fantastic meal. It is cute to see how comfortable Drew is with her—kids can tell when someone loves them. People have been so warm and welcoming to us—I don’t know how I would tolerate this change without that kindness—someone bigger than me must know that and be looking out for me I think. I believe you truly need community, support, and connection to be able to make it in this world. And I have had no shame in telling everyone I meet that we have been here one month, that this change is a huge undertaking—-I think that has helped, too. I did that at the church music class we went to in the morning and met some lovely Moms who happened to be from England and it is very validating to swap experiences with others who have made the move. They feel that at six months in, it becomes really tough and easy to get down—thankfully that is when our first visitors will be here—yay Ferrys!
On Saturday, the boys and I amused ourselves all morning and then popped in on our super nice neighbours to give the kids tissue ghost lollipops that Drew and I made for friends (yes, I came up with a craft all by myself!). They were gracious and sweet also. They don’t do Halloween, but she has nannied in the U.S. and really liked it and he told us to bring the boys trick-or-treating on Monday night and he will bring home some candy that day from work to give them—-such a sweet offer! It’s great to see people appreciate the “gifts” Drew so proudly gives them, too.
That evening, some other new “friends” (Anna’s Mom said to me—it sounds like you are doing well, getting out, making new friends. I said—well I don’t know if you can call them friends if you’ve only met them twice! But I’m working on it…) invited us to go to a Halloween festival with them and she rode with me and had me follow her husband’s car so I could find it. It was a huge street fair—rides for kids, food booths, live music—all things that we would have in the summer for various occasions, but I had never been to one where everyone’s in costume—it was great! Plus my first Halloween parade. The boys again really enjoyed having little playmates, and I again was touched by their invitation and assistance. Apparently, Halloween has never been much of a big thing here in the past, but it is certainly growing. It’s a bit odd though—you run across people who are deathly afraid of it—it’s usually fear that causes our anger, right? They think it’s just awful, an American excuse to commercialize, and a way to get cursed and associate with demons. Those notions make me laugh and feel bad for those who feel that way at the same time. How can a day for kids to “become” the things they imagine—animals, bugs, superheros, etc., and go to their neighbours for candy, and a day where adults can be a kid again by dressing up in something fun, be a bad idea? I feel sad for people whose fears and misperceptions close them off from experiencing that joy.
On Sunday, we went to the American-Australian Association’s Halloween party, and though it was not the highlight of Halloween this year, it was fun. I got to experience a lawn bowls club (they are ALL OVER here and I had been very curious ever since my first trip here) for the first time and even tried to play—kind of similar to bocce I think. It’s always fun to see all the costumes and it was interesting chatting to people about how they came to be in the Association—some split couples like us, but also Australians who have spent time in the U.S and just wanted to join, Americans who came here to study years ago, loved it and never left, Americans recruited to work in the country for a few years, etc.
We also had the big birthday celebration here. That was busy and we’re all worn out today. My cheesecake was edible, but about five other desserts were also available, so we have a lot left. It’s fun to me when people say they like to listen to me talk because of my accent. I so enjoy the Scottish grandmother who made the move with no support system and her husband worked while she had their only baby at home all day. She really “gets it’ and is just such a warm person.
Today, I think we are all recovering from the busy weekend. This government assistance office keeps asking for more and more paperwork (as I explained earlier, it sounds like a great thing, but now I’m starting to wonder if we’ll ever actually get any of the $$ we’re supposed to be eligible for) and I also got my Australian driver’s license. Another task to check off! I can’t believe they just give it you—-no test. That’s pretty generous to assume that because I am capable of driving on the right side of the road, in a left-sided car, that I can reverse that with no trouble, but I’m glad they do assume that—one less hassle. One interesting note—DMVs, although called by a different name, are otherwise exactly the same from the U.S. to Australia—is that good or bad? Probably bad, but I guess I should be grateful for at least one thing that’s no different!
One other new friend has invited us to dinner tonight. This neighbourhood does not have many kids, so she offered to cook for us and show us some good houses near her to go to, even though they don’t do Halloween (she said it’s because her kids are too young—they’re 2 and 6 months. It’s funny hearing that, when Americans will take a 3-week old to a trick or treat street wearing a costume!) Again, such a warm and generous offer! I truly continue to be amazed by this reaching out……
With such a good, positive week and weekend, it’s ironic that I chose this afternoon to hit a wall. I haven’t been sleeping that well, and even though 95% of people are gracious, warm, understanding and welcoming, you always run into the 5% that have unfair stereotypes of Americans, which have no real basis, and those that will disrespect your holiday traditions and desire to bring a piece of your culture to a new one. When 95% of people are wonderful, it’s easy not to focus on the other 5%, except I think when you are tired. And when I switched that focus, it hit me like a brick and I started to miss everyone and everything from home. And the fact that new “friends” means no one I can really talk to, no one around that I can cry to, and then looking at my watch and realizing the people I would cry to are asleep…then it just snowballs. Why do they call so many things “tea” here—-food, snacks, dinner—it’s all “tea”, that’s so confusing! Why do I have to drive on the other side of the road? Why do I have to learn new shops? I miss going to work twice a week, I miss my friends who are all happy and enjoying all their other friends at home like nothing’s changed. I miss my sweet, fun family. I have to be “nice” to everyone here and on my best behavior—I can’t bitch like I’d really love to sometimes!
Again, so thankful for this outlet of mine, this blog, this way of connecting with “home.” I have a fun evening to look forward to—it’s one of my favourite days of the year and a woman I really like is opening her home to my family for dinner, and then we get to trick-or-treat! So, there is now a smile on my face and I will work hard at being a good friend, so I will make good friends!