I find it amazing how much meaning ‘stuff’ can have. I knew it would hit me more fully that we actually live here in Australia once we got our own place. However, I mostly thought that would be due to the independence, the freedom to live and use our living space in the way we best see fit. I was wrong. That is all true, but it was seeing my ‘stuff’ that made it hit me like a ton of bricks. For some reason, I was opening up our coffee mugs, photos, the kids’ toys and more, and suddenly I thought “Oh, my goodness. My stuff is HERE. I am HERE. We are HERE.” It was like I had forgotten about all the pieces that show my life, my history, what is important to me and my family while they were wrapped up for six months. In addition, we were now using all items that we had picked out ourselves, our tastes to a degree. While we acquired what we could as cheaply as possible and from other people, it definitely represents our tastes. So, then panic just overwhelmed me. I couldn’t sleep on Saturday night, the night of the move. Every few hours a wave would just sweep up through my body, making me feel queasy in the stomach and then hitting me in the head—oh, what have we done?!
Therefore, I have shed a few tears this week, done a bit of freaking out. I have also had a great deal of intestinal distress—love my body for doing that to me during times of stress! I have been feeling very alone—I met the sweet 80-year-old lady on one side of us, but other than that, we are complete unknowns here. It was as if being a guest in someone else’s house all this time, and all the people around, made me feel a bit like I was on some weird, extended, not relaxing vacation of sorts, and that there were people around who knew us who could hopefully help us out in case of an emergency. That sense of security is gone now.
Thankfully, children don’t allow much time for randomly melting down, so I keep reminding myself that I have met lovely people that I otherwise would not know and that I actually WANTED to do this—-to try and succeed at moving away from home—just picked an extreme test case! I also remind myself what an incredible opportunity and experience this is, and what a cool thing it is for all of us, particularly the kids. I guess for some reason even when I was packing everything up in Colorado and leaving everything behind, it did not feel as ‘permanent’ as it did when opening it all in a strange land—maybe because for the most part I was still within my comfort zone while I was packing..??? Food for thought….
Some of our treasures did not survive their freight, air and sea voyage, and unwrapping each bubble-wrapped piece made me remember how much work and stress it all was and I thought that I really don’t want to do it again. So….does this mean I want to stay here forever? Why would I? Why not?
Here is what I like about unpacking, aside from the aforementioned freedom and privacy: the boys’ delight in seeing their toys again truly warms the heart. Drew just cannot get over it all, and for Zach it’s like one gigantic Christmas, doubled up with his birthday. It seems they feel more whole now as well. I like seeing their ‘kid’ rooms—they each have their own now, where they can decorate how they like and have their comforts with them. It has also made me realize what amazing children I have, which also makes my heart brim. I have to recount these first couple nights, so I don’t ever forget them. On the first night, I set up both Zach’s pack and play and his toddler bed and he chose the former. He was so tired from the crazy day that he tried to climb into it instead of reading books. The next night, his birthday, he switched to the toddler bed, and has slept amazingly well, sending himself to sleep, ever since. That second night, he wandered around his room a bit and pounded at the door (the door knobs are weirdly high up in this house and he can’t reach them), and when I came in, I asked if he wanted me to lay with him. He sighed, “Yeah.” And then while we laid there he started naming people, like we do when blessing people in our nightly prayer. He eventually said Man, who I think is how he says the name of the daddy in one of the families that helped us move, and then he followed it with “in the yellow hat”. So funny! I finally left, and he returned to the door again. I came back in and he said “Mommy, sleep, me”. How do you say no to that, on his 2nd birthday?! I stayed another few minutes and then he was fine.
Drew started that first night saying he wanted to sleep with Zach, and got in the toddler bed when Zach got in his crib. He then came out after a few minutes and said Zach was being too loud so he was going to his own room. J Each night he has asked for the toddler bed, to stay with Zach, but Zach wants it, so he heads to his own. Monday, our 3rd night, Drew really had trouble sleeping. He came to see us at 12:30, and we took turns taking him back and trying to settle him—it took three or four times, and the final time, I let him in our bed for a few minutes, then walked him back and laid with him in his. I asked if I could sing to him and he hummed Twinkle Little Star while I sang it. It was beautiful. Then he slept until 9:00 the next morning.
But through all this, these two precious boys have been so happy, so well behaved—-they just seem so flexible and adaptable to me and it reminds me that what is important is that we are all together—it does not matter where. Drew still asks to go back to Colorado occasionally. We hung pictures in their rooms this morning and he absolutely loved picking out photos to hang and deciding where they go.
I also obviously like (yeah, quite a digression, but what I like about opening our stuff) is using the things that are ours, that are familiar, that I like to look at and use. But more than that, I look forward to having friends over here, hopefully guests with us too at some point, and the place representing us, our backgrounds in both countries, who we are, what we want to show people through our home. It feels so good—like our ‘past’ life in a sense, but really our current life, who we are, is now represented and in the open. It feels odd to live where nothing is yours; you can’t tell the story behind the photos, the artwork, etc.
Steve’s long-time best mate is a psychologist and as he was putting together the boys’ beds on Saturday, he told me that moving is considered a life stressor right up there with losing a loved one. He told me that to not only move, but to move myself and my family to an unfamiliar country, has to be one of the most stressful life events possible and to call them whenever I felt like it. It made me teary, mainly because it felt so nice to be validated, to be reassured that what I am feeling is not crazy or weak.
To sort of add insult to injury (as we all know, when it rains it pours), just in the couple days before the move, we were met with some annoying money issues. We had booked flights to Melbourne for the four of us for Easter week, and were really looking forward to our first Australian ‘holiday’, catching up with friends from home (I absolutely cannot wait to see people I love, from home, again) and just getting a break, but the airline we booked with went bankrupt abruptly and is not giving any refunds. Well, banks are trying to get people’s money back for them, so we are hoping for the best, but other airlines are considerably more expensive, so even if we get the refund, we are not sure we will take the trip—-we need time to sit and figure it all out. There are so many expenses when you have to buy most of the things you need in a house—just crazy! Also, the king-sized bed frame we bought on eBay here turned out to be a scam—a queen-sized bed frame instead (I happen to find it entirely ironic that some people have this vision of the U.S. as an unsafe, crime filled country, but with all the buying and selling we have done online, this is the first time we have been scammed). So, we have to figure out how to try and resell that and buy the king bed frame and for now are using our mattress on the floor (Drew thinks it’s very cool that we have a camping bed, just like what he sleeps on when he throws up!). Finally, my U.S. debit card was hacked into and used to make purchases without my knowledge—that was the least expensive and easiest to rectify of all the issues! Good ole U.S.A.—I’m telling ya—we make things happen there! (My loving husband just reminded me that plenty of U.S. companies have been frustrating to work with, and have made it take too many steps to get things done—it’s not just an Australian thing, even though I like to whine about it being one! When I realize that, I do remember that closing my Wells Fargo bank account from over here was quite possibly one of the most frustrating experiences I have ever had.) It has, not surprisingly, been a struggle to get internet hooked up here, as well. After too many phone calls, too much time on hold, and too many representatives, it is finally done tonight—Wednesday.
However, on the (HUGE) plus side, we have been touched by the generosity of friends, some of whom are very new friends—so many people helped us move, helped us by giving us stuff, even giving us dinner one night. All in all, when I consider all that my family has been through and accomplished these last six months, we have had MANY more good experiences in all this than bad. We are very blessed.
Another plus—we are now at the 22nd of February, which means we have been here exactly five months and have only four to go until we visit home!!! I am SO excited about that, that I worry I believe in some part of me that I am actually going home—not just visiting. I wonder if it will be harder to leave after that visit, than it was to initially move, because of that knowledge—that we are coming back to Australia to our home, instead of vice versa. We shall have to wait and see…..
And, we are already enjoying the benefits of Steve’s shorter days sans commute. Today he was able to walk to a training!
Through all of this craziness, sweet Zach reached 2 years old. I have to recount one more memory, so I don’t lose it. Saturday was actually kind of fun—we had fun helpers and it was great, although exhausting getting everything here (the house was not what I had expected, but it will be fine—no window screens—weird! Creepy too with all the bugs, not to mention safety, but it is fairly common here so I guess our chances of survival are high! The yards have gorgeous, lush vegetation, great parks nearby, and a lovely view of the green hills and city around here). Sunday was harder—-trying to celebrate Zach, fix up and find stuff in our bomb site of a place, and spend most of the day away getting the cleaning done at Steve’s family’s house. Thankfully, that allowed us to Skype with my parents for Zach’s birthday, and they answered, knowing it was us calling, BOTH of them (Dad?!) were wearing silly hats and sang Happy Birthday while my Mom played her harmonica. While that was precious, it was what came next that I don’t want to forget—Drew told them to wait and ran off. He came back with two old books and I could not figure out why. He asked to sing the song again and when they started, he sang along, banging the books like a musical instrument. I realized that that was ‘their thing.’ For all birthdays, my Mom has had this little band and she gets the kids to play funny toy musical instruments, wear funny hats, and sing. Drew picked up on that, and ran to get something that he could play to join the band. Makes me cry again thinking about it! So precious.