Tuesday, July 07, 2015

Familiar Faces

Here in the US we are surrounded by a core group of familiar faces and given our desire to feel grounded and settled, this is soothing to the soul. But in leaving Australia, we left behind a whole entourage of familiar faces, some of whom have been making "appearances" all the way over here!

I'm struck by how often I see someone here who reminds me of an Australian friend or colleague. It might be similar facial features but just as often it's something more indirect - their build, their gait, their style of dress, or the hand they're holding. These encounters always make me smile as if the universe were sending a lovely reminder of their presence and influence in my life.

Then my mind starts to wander and I begin to think of the people who touched our lives in Australia. My mother's group. My colleagues. The women who'll be sisters for life. 

Then there are the familiar faces who we'd encounter with enough frequency that they began to feel like friends over time. The shopkeepers, the cafĂ© owners, our neighbors and my colleagues in other departments across ANU. The lovely Asian couple at the Lyneham pizza shop who knew our standing order by heart and delighted in watching our boys grow. The Greek couple who years ago lived next door on Fox Place who won our hearts with kindness and chocolate Freddo Frogs. The owner of the Dickson health food shop who always loved to chat and my friendly chiropractor who supported me through two pregnancies. Our Bonython street neighbors who shared BBQs and many a cul-de-sac chat. (As you can see we are clearly able to form lasting bonds based on food! We ordered so many pide pizzas from the Lyneham Turkish restaurant that the owners and their young son finally just adopted us as friends. We've kept in touch even though they've since relocated to Turkey. Hi Anna!)

With the hustle and bustle of our final days in Canberra, I can't even remember if we were able to say goodbye to many of these people. I imagine that they wonder about us just as we recall them fondly. 

Having spent so many years abroad, there are now bits of my heart scattered across continents, but I wouldn't change any of it for a thing. I've been feeling nostalgic in writing these last three posts and this feeling is accompanied by a sense of loss in many ways.  While I can maintain an online relationship with those I miss, it still pains me at times to know that we are no longer part of their immediate lives. Then I try to remind myself that the memories are still my lived experiences and those people are still friends. For this I am grateful. So while a glimpse of a familiar face can spark twinges of homesickness, I remind myself that our Adventures Down Under have added so much to my life and this equals net gain!

And with that, it only seems appropriate to wrap up this post with a shout out to all the people who made life in Canberra so rich and meaningful. You know who you are. Love, Jenn

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