The low

In life, you get ups and downs. It’s a cliché, but it’s true. You look forward to something, you have a great time, you reminisce with friends, it’s all good stuff. You tend not to remember the bad unless you’re wallowing in despair. You need a bit of bad to know just how good the good is. But when you’re experiencing the bad, it’s so hard to retain that perspective. 

Right now is a bad point. I’d love to blame it on PMS but I can’t. Since the very beginning, when we first talked about moving to Canada, there have been so many signs telling us not to go. I don’t want to say I’m reliant on omens or whatever because I’m not, I believe in putting in the hard yards and doing everything to achieve exactly what you want in life, but by the same token I’ve had too many experiences throughout my life to deny the existence of some kind of higher power, spiritual world, the universe, whatever you want to call it. The universe tells you what’s what, guides you along the path, presents you with opportunities to improve and progress, if you actually notice of course. The signs against going to Canada were there all along and it continues to be tough going. Not that it wouldn’t be even if the signs were positive and we were supposed to be doing this; no one is denying the enormity of what we’ve set out to do, moving halfway across the world based on a crazy dream of snow at Christmas and beautiful landscapes. We’ve done stuff like this before and it’s been so hard! But not like this. 

Since meeting, Mr Chewbacca and I have made many moves and overcome many obstacles during those moves. I remember finding our first place together in London, that was really difficult! Lots of stuff went wrong. I dinged the hire car. Our landlord was clearly dodgy and wanted rent paid by cheque or cash only. Then moving back to Australia, that was a massive drama. Not only did we have huge problems agreeing on where to go (I wish I’d stood my ground and we’d gone to Melbourne, things would be so different!), we struggled finding a place to live with only one of us working and just took the first thing that came along. Our wedding was organised last minute and my dress was accidentally transparent, I never tasted my awesome wedding cake that my mum bent over backwards to arrange at the last minute and I ended up in the worst job I’ve ever had. Our place turned out to be amazing but we had to move somewhere bigger because the Dude arrived. And that was shit as we had to settle for hell (ie. South West Sydney), the removalist wasn’t even a real removalist (just a small middle-aged couple with a graffitied truck), our house was fibro with no air con, and, well, other stuff happened that made it hard to remember that place fondly. 

Then, finally we could leave Sydney, but we had to move to Canberra for six months to live in my run-down investment property while we renovated enough to be able to sell it and afford a move to Melbourne. We actually did it. I got a job (narrowly losing to my job in Sydney as worst job ever), and somehow we managed to renovate and sell with no money, just credit cards. We did enjoy Canberra but the whole renovation was hard work and we got screwed by a dodgy handyman. 

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ah Melbourne. the Australian bush is so grey and washed-out compared to Canada

Finally, we made it to Melbourne. Okay, so it wasn’t perfect. It was super tough. Jobs were scarce and I was pregnant. We ended up with total assholes for neighbours. But it was Melbourne, and after 18 months there we’d begun to find our niche. I actually had friends, new friends, for the first time in years, and they were people that I had lots in common with. Mr C had a really great permanent job. Dude was in an awesome kindergarten. We had all we needed, a great car, nothing to want for. We were happy. Except, the weather. Those fucking 40 degree days. Bloody Australian summer. 

So why? Why did we go? The weather was a big reason, as I explained previously. I really wish people had been a bit more shocked about it when we told them. I wish I’d listened when people told me I’d be mad to leave Melbourne. Why did we take this leap, I asked myself every time something went wrong with this move. We’d ask each other as we ran up against barriers and logistical problems arose time and again and we grew slightly uneasy about whether we should really do this. But we knew that if we didn’t do it, we’d always wonder. 

 

Niagara Falls! you have to admit, it’s pretty awesome in winter. this is about an hour from where we live
 
I won’t go on. But this is a low point. One of those times when you just feel regret inching it’s way in, no matter how much you remind yourself how pointless it is. I hate it too because it reminds me of family who did stuff like this and could never stop going over the story of why they left and how big a mistake it was. This kind of a move, done wrong, can really screw up a kid. I’m just glad at least that ours are still little enough to bounce back. 

Every sign was there from the beginning. And right to the end. We almost didn’t even board our flight! And now, now we are left with nothing but the experience. And me with a degree. Is it enough? I hope so. We could be buying a house in Melbourne now but instead…

I end this post with an apology for its whiny negativity (a bit of perspective on my part wouldn’t go astray!) and a promise that the next one will be less ranty. I feel better already just for having written this!

Coming full circle

It’s been over a month since we arrived in Canberra. I expected to be blogging sooner but our Internet connection got screwed up and we had to wait. So this was drafted on my phone and finished over the weeks after our Internet was connected.

The move itself was insane. An interstate move is hard enough without hiring your own truck and having few volunteers to help load and unload. We really struggled to get people to help, due in part, I think, to my inability to embrace Sydney as home and make friends. Those who ended up coming to help were amazing! We planned four hours to load, meaning we’d be in Canberra for unloading at 3pm, but it took a lot longer, over two hours longer actually, which meant the truck, with Mr Chewbacca and our good friend S in it, arrived in the dark! The house at least has good heating, and we had a few movies on a USB to plug into the tv and stare at while we wolfed down pizza and beer before passing out. Dude ended up being in bed two hours after his bedtime. It was awful having to pull the mattresses and bedding out of the truck in the dark.

Packing and unpacking boxes is a thankless task!
Packing and unpacking boxes is a thankless task!

The next day I roped a couple of people into helping with the unloading which was easily done in an hour while I fiddled about trying to locate the coffee machine and get caffeine into everyone. What an ordeal! Yes, we saved a lot of money that we really haven’t got, given we’re both unemployed, but I can guarantee I won’t be attempting that again. It was made extra hard by needing to clean the new place before we could put stuff away. We’re only now finally unpacked, with a couple of near-empty boxes still floating about.

I am so glad to be out of Sydney! Despite the fact that we still have no income and we can finally see just how great a renovation job we’ve got to face, it feels good to be here. The weather has been great, some frosts and cool, crisp days, and we’ve been doing a bit of exploring. I’ve even been going for walks around the neighbourhood, which is something I never did when I lived here before. It feels great to exercise again (more on that aspect in my next post) and I’ve realised more and more just how strangely familiar this move is for me.

When I was two going on three, the same age as Dude is now, my parents and I moved to Canberra from Sydney. My dad was to get a job in the public service. We moved in with friends who had raved about how great Canberra was for kids and had relocated there a few years previously. I have vague memories of being there in those early days, and I’m pretty sure I had my third birthday there. Our friends had two huge German shepherds that would run around and up and down the stairs that led down to the back yard, stairs that seemed to go on forever. I once slammed my ring finger in the thick, oak front door. Blood was everywhere and my finger is very different from its counterpart on the other had to this day. My mum was more upset than me, I think. Somehow she thought if I were let to run wild a bit I’d be damaged. Or something like that anyway. The other kids, three of them, with the middle boy being my age, were louder and more outgoing than me. I think back and wonder whether I’d be more outgoing now if it weren’t for being cushioned. I don’t know.

My blurry photo of the first house I ever lived in Canberra
My blurry photo of the first house I ever lived in Canberra

Earlier this week, on the first of my energetic walks, I walked to this first house I ever lived in Canberra. Coincidentally, it is only about 40 minutes walk from our current house. Typical me, I still remember the address despite not having been there in at least 25 years. I wheeled the stroller containing a sleep-fighting dude along the complex network of walking paths that extend across most Canberra suburbs, through the awesomely convenient tunnels under the main roads (they used to seem scary to me as a child; now they’re just very convenient, although I often expect them to smell like stale urine. Most don’t actually). I ended up approaching through a cul-de-sac, where some other kids our friends knew used to live. I won’t ever forget watching Dirty Dancing at that house, after being forbidden to watch it by our mums. I think I must have been about eight. The cul-de-sac leads into what used to seem like a huge park in a massive expanse of empty land. It wasn’t as big as I remember! I walked past where there had been swings once. Huge boulders that seemed even bigger when I used to climb them still lay as if scattered by some giant.

I turned right onto the street and the house was next to me. It was pretty much exactly the same, albeit smaller and a little more overgrown with trees and hedges. I wanted to stop and snap a photo but felt like whoever lived there now could see me, so I just pointed my phone in the general direction and took a picture without stopping. Hence the pointless image above.

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One of Canberra’s many footpath underpasses – Dude loves them, he shouts ‘echo!’ as we go underneath

As I walked up what used to seem like the steepest hill in the world, I thought that this move to Canberra, while great, is definitely not a permanent one. I now have a new-found love for this place and I will always love it as my home town but I think we need to do what we came here to do and move on to Melbourne where we can start fresh. In addition to my lingering need to get a feel for life in Melbourne and hopefully settle there permanently, I have this uneasy, suffocating feeling about repeating history by staying here. There are too many similarities between our move and my parents and mine over 30 years ago and while I’m eternally grateful to whatever force caused my parents to leave Sydney, many of the things that happened in Canberra to my family were not great and I don’t want any possibility of any more history repeating itself. There’s more to say, but I’ll leave it at that.

So after a brief chat with Mr C, the decision has been made to prep the house for sale and blow this Popsicle stand as soon as we can. So much more to do yet but at least we have a plan!

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One aspect of many that we need to do with at our Canberra place – the back yard. This is actually part way through the work we’ve done to date, which involved removing 40-year-old Banksia roses that were so overgrown, they were starting to collapse the fence. We’ve now planted cypress trees around the fence which will eventually grow into a high hedge.

Synchronicity

Here’s my latest on Eden’s Fresh Horses meme thingy. And can I just say I love how she says ‘true story’ so much.  I have never met her but that small phrase gives me so much insight into her personality, I can just imagine her saying it.  She reminds me of someone wonderful I once knew.  True story.

Anyway, the question today is on the subject of how I know everything will be alright, that the world isn’t an asshole and things are just fine.  Even when life is shit.  I love this topic, it works for me, I can’t not write on it.  I’m a big believer in destiny.  That’s not to say I think everything is pre-determined and we should all just wait around for fate to descend, but I think everything happens for a reason.  My great aunt Gwen calls it synchronicity. It makes itself known when stuff happens and you think, aah, so THAT was why it was like that.  It also shows itself when plans come together, seemingly difficult tasks just seemed to fall into place without effort.  Of course it’s equally present when things are shit tough and you find yourself challenged to the end of your capacities.

I always know everything will be alright.  At least these days I do.  But there was a time, most of my life up until my mid 20s actually, when I never thought anything would be okay.  I was a pessimist and I wallowed in negative thoughts.  I was never a worrier, but I was just very fatalistic about things and assumed that Murphy’s Law always applied and I probably shouldn’t bother putting in any effort because it won’t go my way.  My attitude changed mainly thanks to a guy I used to date.  Let’s call him Alex.  That’s not his name.  In fact it’s nothing like his real name.  But if he read this he’d know I’m talking about him.  Anyway we were together a good six years or so.  He is one of these real positive, motivated types, the kind of person that’s always bouncing off the walls and up for anything.  The sort of guy who is just as shit scared of bungee jumping as everyone else but does it so he can tick it off the list.  The sense of achievement was always so important for him.  Let me tell you a bit more about Alex.  By the age of 23 he owned an investment property, had two degrees (including a law degree) and was earning and very respectable salary in government.  He had also started his own business and had another two businesses in the pipeline.  So yeah, an extraordinary mind for business and relationship management and an amazing amount of drive and ambition.  He’d ring me at midnight and say, ‘can I just run this business idea past you?’  I’d be like, dude, it’s freaking midnight, are you for real?!  That’s the kind of guy he was, always trying to squeeze a little bit more from every minute of every day (and night).

When we met (which is a whole other post in itself), we were both still at uni, although he was already working in government and finishing off his second degree.  I, on the other hand, was behaving like a lazy, spoilt brat of sorts and relying on handouts from my parents which I spent on fast food, petrol and cheap alcohol.  We were both 21.  I had a job, but it wasn’t much to speak of, and I didn’t really care about it.  I was cruising around, not making much of an effort at uni and still getting decent grades (which is what I always did).  I think my attitude pissed him off big time, and he made it his mission to change it.  Not that he really told me this, but I know that’s what he did.  Let’s face it, I was never going to be like him, all bouncy and friendly and up for anything; I am inherently lazy, and I’m also more of a thinker (to put a positive spin on it).  But slowly, over the years, things began to even out.  We were such a contrast to each other, yet this was what worked.  And this was why we needed to be together.  At the time, when we were breaking up (which took over 18 months), I thought I’d wasted so many years.  I wished I’d realised earlier just how incompatible we were and that we were never going to get married and have kids.  But in fact our relationship as it was worked perfectly and was totally necessary for me to become who I am today.

These days, I’m the optimist.  I always see the positive, and my husband is the ‘glass is half empty’ type.  Anyway, the point of all this is not to say just how much my attitude has changed and what a huge difference it’s made in my life.  What I really wanted to illustrate is that my now positive attitude, always seeing the way forward, is what reminds me everything will be okay.  Even when shit really hits the fan, I know things will be alright.  And how do I know that?  Because everything happens for a reason and it’s never not okay.  Even mistakes are necessary, they’re all lessons.  Jesus, that sounds like a total wank, right?  Yeah, perhaps, but I do believe it.  When we moved house and it went from bad to worse, I found myself wondering whether we were meant to move at all, whether this was the Universe’s sign to me that I’m heading in the wrong direction.  I still think that wasn’t arbitrary, that all those crazy things that happened and made our move so much more difficult were warnings and indicators of what was in store, but I know that our move itself was right because it happened.

I don’t know whether my attitude would remain steadfast in the face of true tragedy.  Recently something really major happened that isn’t appropriate to mention on the blog, but I can safely say that my positive attitude made for a positive outcome, so I know there are some full on things that it will overcome.  All I can do is keep seeing the positive and keep paying attention to the Universe and what is meant to be.  Sometimes it’s hard, when I’m in a city I hate and know I don’t belong in, but I still do believe there is a reason for all of this.

Has this even stuck to the original question?  Buggered if I know.  Like most of my blogs, it’s pretty much a stream of consciousness, and reading over it again might mean it never gets published.  I’m sure some others wrote some more interesting, relevant and poignant stuff.  Go read it, over at Edenland.  Click on the button below to find it.

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