Actually, Some Things Don’t Change

So, I’ve been driving. On the left side of the road. It’s really not all that terrible.

 

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It’s just that everything is so… backwards. You know when you follow your GPS directions to someplace new, following the directions, turn after turn through a new neighborhood? Then, it’s time to leave and, rather than reversing your navigation, you decide to find your way our all on your own by just reversing the directions in your head? Well, that’s what it’s like every time I’m behind the wheel. It. Is. Exhausting. I’ve driven a dozen or more times now and it’s finally beginning to click. I don’t turn on the wipers instead of the turn signal anymore. But I still get a pang of stress waiting in the right turn lane watching cars turn in front of me. And I don’t think I’ll ever not be terrified navigating the double (or triple) round-a-bouts! But, who knows? A few months from now, I could be a left-side-of-the-road-driving PROFESSIONAL and all these thoughts I’m sharing with you will be SO SILLY.

So, I put my new driving skills to good use this week and ventured to the mall. Malls here are different than in the States. Here they comprise all the shops you can think of but also include grocery stores, florists, cafes, even a library. And… Target! We parked and I schlepped two kids into the stroller, through the mall, and after the 3rd tantrum in a row (Stella), I decided to call it a day. We headed for the car… until I couldn’t find the car. I went to 4 different car parks. And each of their 3 levels. Still couldn’t find our car. At this point both kids have skipped a semi-tolerable level of whining and have entered full blown done-ness. I’m on the phone with Phill, in tears because, you know, I’m me and some things do not actually change and we are horribly, horribly lost.

In the middle of all this, I miss a call from Jill. I call her back, and, low and behold she is parking here at the mall! (Still amazed by this.) She came to find us and talked me through what little I could recall and, after a speedy 10 minutes, I was loading up my car with bags and two very sleepy children.

Jill (and Nate) to the rescue!

With all this change happening around me, I guess it’s comforting to know that some things, actually, do not change. I’m still me no matter where in the world I reside!

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Choices

So Phill is away on his first business trip since we arrived in Australia. Exactly two weeks after we arrived. But, hey, who’s counting?

I’ll be honest and tell you all that I am struggling. Life in Oz is vastly different from our life in Austin. Phill’s working a lot more. I’m at a loss without the arsenal of a full kitchen so we are eating out a lot. Stella’s not in school anymore. I spend a good part of every day mentally preparing to drive on the (wrong) left side of the road. Boy, oh boy. That will be an adventure!

Need this said to me on repeat.

Need this said to me on repeat.

I could take solace in the fact that at least we moved to a country where they speak English and aren’t facing a language barrier like my friends in Switzerland. The Aussies do, however, have their own language and style of speaking. But that’s a post for another day.

Tonight, in a desperate attempt to elicit a third nap out of Declan, I popped the kids in the pram and headed out. We walked through the Corso and over to one of the play parks located on the boardwalk of Manly Beach. We left there and headed toward Shelly Beach. It was getting dark and Stella kept asking if it was past her bedtime. We turned back and headed home about halfway to Shelly Beach. We walked along in silence until Stella said, “Mommy, I like going places in the stroller instead of the car.”

Her statement has really stayed with me. I’ve spent all evening mulling over what she said. Our life in Austin was, as is all of Texas, rather sedentary. Need to pick up a prescription? Car.¬†Want to go to Lincoln’s house? Car. Dinner out? Car. Groceries? Car (ok, that was walkable, when it wasn’t 100 degrees). Anyway, you get the picture.

I am still amazed that my (almost) three year old had that thought and was able to articulate it to me.

Since we’ve been here, Stella has flourished. She’s zooming all over the place. Skipping, jumping, running, running, running. She’s never been a very physical kid so this is new for her. And, apparently, it suits her well!

Meanwhile, I’ve been busy wallowing in my own misery and homesickness. To hear that she is pleased with this aspect of our new life here in Australia makes me deliriously happy. Maybe even enough to boost me out of my funk.

I think we will look back on our choice to move to Australia with fondness and appreciation. Living the ex-pat life will, and maybe already has, changed us forever. Best decision ever?

Possibly.

Sunset in Manly

Sunset in Manly

P.S. I never did get Declan to take that nap.