Saturday, October 13, 2012

Back in the 'Berra

We're back in Canberra! 

After six and a half months in the US hoping for an epiphany about where to spend the next stage of our lives, we found ourselves having to make some incredibly tough decisions in the absence of any conclusive revelations. We loved spending time with our families and marveled at the relationship Riker developed with his cousins, but when given the chance, we raved about Canberra.  Brian considered several jobs in Ohio but I adore my job in Australia.  Stay or go, stay or go? The things I want, it seems, do not and seemingly cannot exist in the same place. My belongings, my family, my friends, my career, good weather, affordable health care and a decent economy. We waffled back and forth in the final week of our stay and strongly considered blowing off our return ticket, but in the end we decided to return to the land down under.

The prevailing motivation was that getting dual citizenship would be good for our family in the long term. Although we've been temporary residents in Australia for the six years we've been here, we are now planning to pursue permanent residency and citizenship. We've always avoided these for tax reasons and because as permanent residents we wouldn't be able to access our retirement contributions in Australian dollars until we actually retire. Now we've decided the benefits that Australian citizenship offers are significant - work rights and reciprocal health care arrangements with several countries around the world and the ability to be snowbirds if we so choose, moving to wherever the jobs or weather suit us best. That these benefits would extend to our children for the rest of their lives is an important consideration and as we've put in the years required to be eligible for citizenship, it seems a waste to let the chance pass us by now. 

Our families aren't thrilled with us and we have no way to know if we are making the right decision for ourselves or our children.  For the time being though, we are still mostly happy with our lifestyle abroad.  I appreciate the ability to take a year of maternity leave and return to work part time.  If we chose to stay in the US right now I'd most likely have to accept a full time job or stay at home full time, neither of which allow me to maintain my career while being the parent I want to be.  I am eager to see all of our friends again and for Riker to play with his little friends.  And you can't beat the season's we'll be experiencing in 2012 - summer, spring, summer, autumn, spring, summer. 

Are we glad to be back? Yes and no. Saying farewell to our families was traumatic.  They all hoped that we would decide to stay and despite the fact that they know and understand our tendencies toward travel, I think they feel hurt that we've left again after so many months of quality time together. But we enjoy Canberra and have returned here several times now and the city has a comfortable feel for us.  And in many ways, it has felt like the universe was drawing us back here.  We are going to be living in my friend Carina's furnished three bedroom house while she goes off to do a post doc position in Montana that coincides precisely with my remaining work contract.  Until that house is available in three weeks time, we are house sitting for my colleague's mother just down the street.  Having housing arranged is a big relief and Riker's nanny has even suggested that she will be available in November so reliable child care may be sorted as well. It's somewhat surreal to be back and for now we're just hoping that a few more things come together for us.  We need to buy a car and collect various household and baby items and Brian needs to find a contract after being away from work for over a year. 

Fortunately the travel here, while long and grueling, actually went reasonably well.  There were no airport delays and travel dramas like the ones we experienced on our journey to the US in MarchEntertaining the children while traveling though, required all of our energy and attention, especially Ari who was much more of a handful than he was at six months old. Riker was much easier to travel with this time around as he was kept busy with the in flight entertainment and with our new iPad (thanks Grammy Jan).  Luckily the long haul flight in this direction is mostly overnight so the kids slept through much of it.  Jet lag has been very manageable as a result.

And so, we're still living out of suitcases, we still have lots of details to work out and we still don't really know what we're doing with ourselves in the long term, but for now, the Adventures Down Under continue.

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