While we were preparing to move to Australia (or “On-cherry-ah” as my nephew says it) I did a lot of research: what cities and countries could we visit, where would we live, how do people dress, what is the climate like, what kind of food do Aussies eat, and so forth. I also did a lot of dreaming. I dreamt of warm, sunny days spent on silky sand beaches and traveling to exotic new places. I dreamt of cuddling koalas and watching Cockatoos from my balcony. And honestly, some of those dreams have already come true. The beaches are absolutely lovely, with warm, soft sand and cool, salty waves. We’ve already booked a cruise to the South Pacific (rather impulsively, but the deal was incredible and we set sail in 22 days!) and I’ve seen more Cockatoos than I can count.
With all of the excitement and adventure looming, I didn’t give a lot of thought to the leaving part. This isn’t the first time I’ve been away from “home.” I went to college in Indiana and lived in Tulsa, OK for the first two years after graduating. I spent a semester studying abroad in England and traipsing across Europe. I’m independent and adventurous. And I’m grieving the loss of my home and family.
It’s very important to keep things in perspective: my family and friends are all still very much alive and surprisingly easy to communicate with, thanks to FaceTime and WhatsApp. But leaving created this vacuum, this hollow space that used to be filled with family dinners, hugs and cuddles with my niece and nephew, and the ease and comfort of being surrounded by so many people I love and who love me. No one tells you that giving something up, even voluntarily, and even for a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, will hurt like it does.
Burton, my nephew who just turned 3, told my mom today that, “Sometimes I don’t like Donnie.” (He loves Donnie and literally asks to talk to him every time I call.) My mom asked him when those times are, and he answered, “When he moves away.” Cue tears.
I questioned publishing this post. This move is our grand adventure, and no one wants to read about the unglamorous, slightly depressing side to becoming an expat. But I also think it’s important to acknowledge– especially in today’s “Instagrammed” world where everything looks perfect and sometimes we find ourselves trying to measure up to someone else’s life that isn’t even reality.
This is my reality. I live in the most beautiful country I’ve ever seen. I spend my days reading on the beach or walking up and down the Corso to find the perfect takeaway lunch. I thank God every single day that I wake up here, unbelievably happy to be taking this one day at a time with my fabulous husband. I also cry sometimes. Some mornings even the beach loses its appeal and all I want to do is get on a plane and head back to Nashville. I feel uncomfortable grocery shopping because food has different names and I’m bad at converting kilograms to pounds. I never know what the temperature is because Celsius is dumb. (Actually, I’m starting to learn that one, too.)
I’m learning that feelings of loss are not negative, these feelings are simply part of the process. We had to give up some really important, really wonderful things and people to be able to make this adventure a reality. The joy and wonder we get to experience are magnified, not diminished, by our parallel sadness. While I’ll continue to miss home (and Chickfila) I am confident that we made the right decision in coming here. And December, which means a trip home and Christmas with our families, will be here before we know it!