Less than a week

I’m writing to document this process but will probably publish later as it’s just too insane now to be sure what I’m publishing is okay.

In less than a week we are getting on a QANTAS plane and flying halfway across the world to Toronto, Canada. I’ve never been there before. And we’ll be staying there for a year. We’re leaving all the comforts of the best place in Australia behind and taking a big gamble. Yes, I’m going to have a great master’s degree from a prestigious university and it’s exciting living somewhere new. But it’s going to be hard. What we’re going through now, selling everything we can’t take, living in chaos, this pales in comparison to the difficulty we’ll experience over the next year.

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So Melbourne.

We’re going to need to establish ourselves in a strange place fairly quickly. Then our children will need to get used to being without us during the day. We’ll be on a single income, and that’s providing Mr Chewbacca can find a job. The commute is going to suck. And it’ll be worse in winter. But we’re doing it. I must say it’s liberating to relinquish all these worldly goods, offload everything we really don’t need as well as things we just can’t take like electrical goods.

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Regular sightings of hot air balloons out our window in Melbourne. I wonder if there will be in Toronto?

Getting rid of so much, you start to realise just how little you actually need. Even things you thought were important become just things and you can let them go. It’s hard for me because I am very sentimental about stuff and I like to document everything. But the more I do it, the easier it gets. Mr C freaks me out on a daily basis by expressing his worries around whether our stuff will fit in the four cubic foot container we are limited to, and I am momentarily worried enough to go through and cull books or random things in the cupboard I realise I don’t need.

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She may not look like much, but she's got it where it counts, kid.

Things that have been hard to offload:
– My sewing machine. It was a 21st birthday present from my parents and I love it, even if it took the sewing machine repair guy five months to service and repair. I have passed it on to a sweet friend who vows she will be only too happy to pass it back should I ever return.
– Artwork and schoolwork from my primary school years through to art school at university. I had no time to go through all this so it was chucked in the recycle bin.
– Our car. Our lovely and shiny Subaru, the only new car I’ve ever owned, with all the bells and whistles, had to be sold, that’s it. Boadicea will be passed to her new owner the day before we fly out and we are sad as she is a great and beautiful car. Plus there’s no way we can afford to buy her sisters in Canada. Her great aunt’s cousin twice removed is more what we’ll be in the market for.
– Our mattress. It is the most amazing surface I’ve ever come in contact with and sleeping on it is heaven. King Koil is the way forward! Mattresses don’t hold their value either so as soon as you buy one it’s worth maybe a quarter of that immediately. Irony is that people pay huge sums to stay in hotels and sleep on mattresses that hundreds of others have slept on and done Lord knows what on. Weird.
– Some of the kids’ toys, like the lovely wooden blocks passed on from a dear friend. At least I passed those on to another lovely friend who will appreciate them.
– Mr Chewbacca’s original Star Wars toy collection from his childhood. Sold for about half what they’re worth and will no doubt be sold on for much more, it was an amazing collection. Ewok Village, Millennium Falcon, AT-AT, four tea crates full, some in their original packaging.

There are lots of other things I found hard to let go but as I kept doing it, it got easier. And then it started to feel liberating! Yay, no more stuff! It’s certainly weird seeing our furniture slowly dwindling down to nothing though. Luckily most of what we have was acquired for free or bought second hand and we are not attached to it. Only our bookshelf is coming with us, a freebie that we sanded down and painted and upon whose sides we mark the kids’ heights every six months. A garage sale this last weekend in Melbourne has seen our furniture reduce down to our dining table, Dude’s bed, bookshelf and a few other small things. Our house is echoing!

Hotel time about four days before we leave so that’ll be interesting with two little kids. No idea what will happen with all our food. It’s not like an interstate move where you can pack dry goods.

Dude has had ridiculous amounts of screen time in the last week or so and will probably continue to once we arrive but we’ve agreed that we’ll use the big change as an opportunity to wean him off it. There’s something really unsettling about a four year old staring at a screen like a zombie. And the mood afterwards or if we try to switch it off or take away whatever device he was playing on? Not good! Lots of outside, screen-free time for this kid!

So the next step in the big move begins: the packing and uplift of our belongings and moving out. Please let it all fit in the container!!

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23 days

It’s really coming to the pointy end now. We’re really doing this. Selling all our stuff. Even our beloved car! Oh Boadicea, we will miss you!

Some good news though, we have a house in Canada! Finally we were accepted to rent a decent three bedroom townhouse type place backing onto a ravine, as they call it. I picture this giant chasm ala Grand Canyon but in reality I know it’s probably what we’d call a gully.

New terminology:
– splash pad: children’s water play park
– den: kind of a study type area in your house
– broadloom: carpet
– real estate broker: someone who goes out of their way to help you find even a rental as they get paid a commission and not by you.
– GO: the train system
– TO: Toronto

We are still feeling quite nervous about how this will all work out and it doesn’t help that so many things seem to take ages and lots of effort. It’s certainly not just falling into place easily. That’s making it even more daunting as throughout my life I’ve relied on things falling into place as a sign that I’m on the right path. This Canada thing is proving hard work at every turn! It’s kind of like a test to demonstrate that we really do want to do this.

Coming to a friend’s place today that I’d never seen before I found myself smiling as a twinge of excitement rose within me. The house was lovely and big and open with enough play space that didn’t have to encroach upon the living space. A real home. That’s what we’ll have, I thought. So exciting. It’s not perfect but it’s closer to what I want.

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Paintings at CERES, one of my regular Melbourne haunts for playgroup

I’m feeling a little sad about leaving Melbourne. It really is the best city in Australia. I say that having never been to Perth or Darwin or Alice Springs. But it beats Sydney, Canberra, Adelaide and Brisbane. That’s just from my perspective of course, you certainly can’t say one place is definitely better than another overall. It’s all relative to what suits those living in the place. Most people hate Melbourne weather and not because it’s “the rainy city” as I knew it growing up but because of the four seasons in one day. And I must admit, it’s really annoying to have to adjust your outfit to prepare for any weather throughout a single day. In terms of life and culture, it’s the best. It also has great food places and plenty to do, even with limited funds. The cost of living is high but no higher than any other large Australian city. I would come back to Melbourne if I had to return to Australia.

It’s funny, everyone immediately mentions how cold it will be in Canada as soon as we tell them we’re going. Usually it’s people who’ve never been to Canada too. But they are more shocked when we explain we’re looking forward to the cold, that it’s one of the reasons we want to go. At first I dismissed these kinds of concerns completely, then I went through the “smile and nod” phase, but in the last few weeks I’m beginning to wonder just how much we’ve romanticised the snow. Sure, it’s great if you like the cold and you get rugged up and have fun skiing or whatever. But then you go back to your warm house/ski lodge and drink hot chocolate/mulled wine and there’s an open fire and lots of yummy food and you think maybe I’ll just read or watch a movie and then go skiing again tomorrow. That’s not what it’ll be like on a daily basis. I don’t even know how to dress for minus 20 with a wind chill factor of minus 40! I need snow boots.

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Everything is awesome! This is our mantra!

So, the car is up for sale and we’re slowly offloading all our furniture and electrical, except for our second hand bookshelf which holds so much sentimental value with the kids’ height measurements marked on the sides. Oh, and we’re taking an old CD player Andrew bought when in Canada 13 years ago. It has a tape player on it and it’s only right that it goes “home”. We have to be ruthless with our stuff as the size of the container we can afford is the same size as our dining table, so not big! I’m kind of worried about what will happen if our stuff doesn’t fit as we won’t really know until it’s being packed. Allied Pickfords are doing it all, even the packing, which is a massive relief as there’s no way we could do it ourselves with the kids constantly underfoot and wanting to help. Dude keeps grabbing random toys he’s playing with and announcing he’s packing them.

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All the books get pulled off the shelf while mummy is distracted with moving stuff...

Little Thumper has no idea what’s going on, just that there are some cool boxes to explore and the Dude is handling it really well. He’s been through a couple of interstate moves already so I guess he has an idea of what to expect. It’s really hard selling his furniture from his bedroom though. I thought he’d freak when I took everything off his shelves but he was amazing and didn’t seem concerned. He knows about Canada (he only recently stopped calling it Can-da-da) and recognises the maple leaf already. I’m hoping that, as he’s a bit older now at four and a bit, he won’t pine for home as he didn’t when we came to Melbourne. He was about two and three quarters and he was a bit concerned about the truck taking our things but mainly excited. The excitement lasted a few hours into the eight hour drive from Canberra to Melbourne but soon he was asking to “go home” every little while. We couldn’t even reassure him that we were going to our new house as we didn’t have one and were set to stay with old friends of mine from years ago. Anyway he settled in there quickly and then didn’t want to leave two weeks later when we needed to move into our rental place.

So, selling furniture etc – check. Finding place to rent – check. Enrolling in my uni courses and discovering that I’m actually doing a kind of Italian literature degree – check (phew!) Being really scared and excited at the same time – double check! This better be worth it!