Wednesday, December 8, 2010

A Farewell to Oz

A few months ago my family and I left Brisbane for good.  I’m back on the ‘front’ of the world now. From here, three years living in Oz now seem like a long happy dream.  It was surreal - too bright and colourful to be true.  

I miss it of course, but not how you might think. It's not so much the climate or the sand but the 'youth' of the place.  Queensland had a wonderful immaturity to it.  It felt like I was back in undergrad.  Many of our friends were in their worry-free early twenties and acted accordingly.  But there’s more to it.  Brisbane also had worry-free thirties, and forties, and fifties... and so on.  It was odd and it was appealing.  It’s hard to explain.  I suppose ‘thirty-one’ in boots and a winter jacket is a lot older than ‘thirty-one’ in flip-flops and sunglasses.  In fact, I don’t think it is possible to feel old while driving without a shirt on.  The whole country had that calm happiness that must come from... well, never having to worry about being cold.  I don’t miss the heat, I miss the attitude that comes with it.  

I’m sure some people here would scoff at that sort of living.  ‘Life is serious business!’ Right?  Stressed, and busy with work, perhaps many North Americans would insist that life is no joke and should be taken seriously.  There’s little time for costume parties.   There’s truth to that of course, but I now believe this to be an attitude borne of winter and snow.  Pour a bit of sunshine on a human being and we start to think differently.  We feel a deep urge to chill - like those big cats in Africa, just laying in the shade smiling.  Kate and I just had 36 straight months of sunshine!  More than enough to change us somewhat... to develop a bit of that Aussie-style soul-comforting relaxed’ness.  Hopefully it will stay with us for many years.

It’s sad to have left so many friends so far away.  I imagine my parents must have felt the same thing when they left Poland for Canada in the 80’s.  Anyone that spends a good chunk of time living and working (or schooling) overseas must feel it too.  Facebook is no substitute for facetime.  

So why come back to the snow?  I get asked that sometimes.  Wally’s birth ended any serious doubt I ever entertained about staying in Australia.   In a word, ‘rodzina’.  And the fact that there happens to be better work for me on this face of the globe doesn’t hurt.  Nor does the fact that this side of the world has some precious little treasures that I would have missed... like beautiful small towns, and snow, and Taco Bell.  But most important were Wally’s grandparents, and uncles and aunts.   Although the lucky little man also feels some love coming from across the Pacific and I think he always will.  

I think this will be my final Aussie-themed post. Queensland has earned my respect and part of me will always long to be back in the QLD. How could I possibly forget that beautiful river and city with the heat and the outdoor living. Although Queenslanders occasionally die of dehydration, none have ever frozen to death. That little ‘Suzie’ was the best car I will ever drive - thanks Libby. And I will find no substitute for that sand, and that ocean, and that Sandogs Beach Volleyball Club, and the tour that welcomed us with open arms, and that precious ol'school tournament (the envy of all tournaments). And those sweet, sweet, yield signs everywhere! I will miss all of it. But mostly... we left good Aussie friends.  

If I could summarize three years in one picture (other than the one of those two young gentlemen that started this blog) it may be something like this:

And if I could use a second picture.. maybe I would choose this one:
... because we truly do know some pretty interesting Queenslanders. But when it's all said and done... I brought a lil'something back with me from Australia that will keep the place alive in my heart.
And for anyone who followed our Wallaby's story, here's an update worth at least a thousand words:
The little man needs to wear a few more layers here, but they don't slow him down a bit. 
So I have decided to re-brand and continue this blog. I suspect it will end up being a rarely-updated tale of my son's childhood. Perhaps I will be motivated to include an occasional story of the interesting people we tend to meet here in Idaho. And maybe even a few words about the 'academic life' to put you to sleep. In any case as of today, although the web address won't change, this blog is now: 'The Huckleberry Days'. I'll explain that some other time...