Sunday, July 27, 2014

Leaving Home to Go Home

Moving house is hard. Moving house twice in four months is really hard. Moving overseas with weight restrictions and space constraints on bags and boxes is really, really hard. Add to that the emotions and complexities of administrative tasks, farewells with friends, finalising work, selling and donating household items and juggling kids and you've got a recipe for a nervous breakdown!

Boxes were packed, unpacked and repacked. Items were sorted according to sentimental value. Those that were deemed to be dispensable were either given away or sold. Below is a box of kids toys that was destined for our nanny's garage sale but after I snapped this photo, I couldn't help but snatch that adorable teddy bear out and add him back to the pile that I couldn't stand to part with. It's hard not to be sentimental when going through your belongings and determining whether or not you or your children will ever see them again.

Our lives in boxes.

At least twice a day over the last two weeks in Canberra I asked myself, "What the hell are we doing?!?" I was about to get on a plane and leave it all behind, the place where I carved my professional identity, had both my babies, forged beautiful friendships and where I'd spent the most time in one place since my childhood home on a farm in rural Minnesota. I was shaped and reshaped by these years in Australia and return to the US a different person in so, so many ways.

At last all the suitcases weighed 23 kilos, the courier arrived for the boxes, the house was cleaned, the keys were handed over, the car was sold and we collapsed with our bags at our dear friend Janette's house for dinner on our last evening in Canberra. How sad to leave behind someone who was there beside me for the birth of my child and who has been an amazing friend.

In the morning, Janette and my colleague and friend Barry accompanied us to the airport to help manage kids and bags. What a lifesaver!

The boys survey the plane that will take us from Canberra to Sydney.

It's probably a good thing the boys can't fully grasp the enormity of what we're undertaking. That's not to say they're not aware of and deeply affected by the changes we're going through and the stresses we're experiencing but they're still at an age where as long as we're there with them, everything is okay.

Likely our last flights on Qantas for some time.

And just like that, it was over. That was it. Such abrupt closure to an entire chapter of our lives. 

I watched the planned city and man made lake fade in the distance until the last suburbs disappeared from sight. No matter how much I craned my neck, the city was gone. I took a deep breath and settled into my seat for the long haul. It was time to look ahead. 

Farewell Australia, for now. I am deeply grateful for the opportunities I've had here from my time as a Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar to my career with ANUgreen. Even more profound is the terrific community of people who lent us their friendship and shared so many formative life experiences. You have an open invitation to wherever we find ourselves on the other side of the pond. May we meet again soon. And in the meantime, please keep in touch!

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