Tuesday, 27 March 2012
10. HOME AND AWAY
Matt and I sat down the other day to work out how many times we had moved houses since getting married. Let’s see… in Sydney, there was the one close to the beach with the curved window where I watched my belly grow; the one where Faith (daughter number one) spent her first months; the blue one we bought, gutted then painted in bright canary yellow (I STILL cannot believe how bright that colour was!), and the one near The Gap (yup, notorious for the wrong reasons but with the most spectacular views of the ocean). Then, in Hong Kong, there was Parkland (where Faith got a good laugh because I nearly peed my pants when she pointed out the almost-like-an-anaconda-uninvited-guest in our living room), etcetera, etcetera. Long story short, Singapore makes this move number 10 -- that’s packing AND unpacking every 14.4 months! No wonder I’m permanently exhausted.com!
When I was younger, relocations were due to circumstances beyond my control – my parent’s divorce. Then, as a young adult, it was my work which saw me constantly selling-up to take a contract overseas (where better money awaited), only to have to start from scratch all over again once the gig was wrapped-up. You'd think I'd learn! Presently, and for the past 11 years, Matt’s job has seen us decamp from Sydney and set-up homes in Hong Kong, London, and now, Singapore. Each move is proving to be more challenging with each additional child, (and MORE ‘stuff’ that nobody will let me throw out!) and now, a dog as well! I dread the next call summoning us to move again – because undoubtedly it WILL come -- its just a question of when.
The most recent relocation took us from London to Singapore via Zurich and Dubai. “What kind of crazy route is that?” you ask? The latter two were the other ‘possibilities’ of where they wanted to post us. I remember the early part of the ‘adventure’: Matt coming home and saying we were moving to Zurich and how excited he was: the fresh air, the lifestyle, the skiing! I, however, felt sick.
I had been trying to learn french for the past few years and had not made much headway due to my inability to be ‘guttural enough’ in my pronunciation. With German requiring even more ‘grrrr’, the probability of me mastering the language was zero to the infinity-of-infinity.
And skiing? Let’s just say when I first stepped onto a ski field at ripe old age of 38, I had never been so terrified in my life. Not just of breaking something, but of being the CAUSE of someone else getting hurt because of my inability to stop. “Get out of the way!” I would frantically call out. “I can’t stooooooooooooooooooooop! SHIIIIIIIIIIIT!!”
Added to my anxiety was the reputation of the Swiss to take life very seriously. Oh man! I am so going to be a social pariah with my loopy sense of humor and my flair of putting my foot in it! The impending move brought back horrible memories of when we first arrived in London, when stress saw my mouth transformed into a grotto of ulcers – about 20-or-so of them – and of how lonely and lost I felt.
Driven by a renewed sense of fear, after a few months of staying up till-all-hours surfing the internet to research, and trying to be positive about the “next adventure” (as per Matt’s directive); I finally plucked up the courage and confessed. I had it all planned out. I would plead my argument rationally over dinner. Matt sat there, listening patiently to my manic and hysterical outburst, then asked, “In your mind, what is the worst thing about this move?” I replied as honestly as I could, “German. I REALLY don’t want to learn German.” Then, he burst out laughing. Unfortunately, Matt’s laugh is very infectious and so, feeling foolish, I became even more determined to get over my anxiety.
Luckily for me though, yet another few months later, the Zurich idea was canned and they were moving us to Dubai! Hurray! Somewhere warm! Plus zero percent tax! Seeing the disappointment on Matt’s face made me even more determined to make this work and be positive.
“Honey, what a wonderful opportunity for the girls! Asia, Europe, and now an Arabic country! How many children get to experience such a truly global upbringing? This will probably propel them into distinguished careers with the UN or an NGO, no?” Yes, I sounded like a salesman + tiger mom on speed. Anyhow, our reconnaissance trip was quickly booked. But then, the call came. “Dubai’s not going to work. You will have to move to Singapore.”
Was I relieved? Guilty! And though I recognize we would have transformed wherever they sent us into a wonderful home (even if it meant paying people to become our friends!), I cannot deny the news finally filled me with a childish glee at our next adventure.