Monday, 24 January 2011

Our First Week Down Under

In general, our first week as been pretty good, fantastic 28+ sunny days, cool mornings and evenings.  Our long plane journey from Victoria to Vancouver to Los Angeles to the 14-hour non-stop to Melbourne was completely fine.  We all slept adequately enough to hit the ground running.  Rented a car with C2 behind the wheel accompanied by my constant refrain of 'keep left keep left'.  We found the estate agent, got our house keys and headed Home.

The reality of our new Home, thankfully, is better than our scant memories.  Lovely old house with soaring ceilings, architectural moldings and arches, and large-scale rooms which are perfect since this is a fairly small house.  The neighbourhood seems great, our street is quiet and populated by gorgeous old homes with one end adjacent to the Hedgley Dean gardens.  These gardens are like walking through a tropical botanical park.  The other end of our street is Burke Road, our high street, and also a major throughway, but across it is Central Park.  This amazing place has a running oval, off-leash dog park, play park, gardens, fountain, conservatory, and all of next week is hosting 'Jazz in the Gardens'.

Most of our first week has been caught up in the 'hurry up and wait' phase (to quote my good friend Melissa).  Hours spent at Telstra trying to ride the red tape and 100 points of identification necessary to open accounts for phone lines, internet, mobiles, cable.  Opening our bank account was easy by comparison.

C2 has been doing most of the driving as we get used to driving in the right-hand side of the car on the left-hand side of the road.  Yesterday, however, I figured I should get at it since it was a 'quiet' Sunday.  Apparently 'quiet' Sundays only exist in Switzerland, Sunday in Australia is more like a day at Nascar.  It wasn't completely pretty and there was a lot of tense intakes of breath from C2 but it was a first step.  Biggest problem for me is how large the left hand side of the car seems when the wheel is on the right.

We've discovered during our exploring of this part of Melbourne that we live about a 13-minute drive to the main strip of beaches on Philip Bay.  Yesterday, we spent from 3:00-5:00 at the beach much to J's delight, and in spite of 30+ sunscreen and hats still managed to burn the bits that were not fully blocked.  Guess the sun really is incredibly strong down under.

C2 went to the office for the first time today, turns out it is about a 30-minute commute.  Long by our historical standards but overall not too bad.  I spent the morning making lists and priorities.  Glancing at it now, I haven't checked much off of it yet.  J needs to go back to school, he is getting cagey and stir-crazy.  He has been a great sport through everything but hasn't played with another kid his own age in almost 6 weeks.  I think I am starting to bore him, and a bit of lego-building frustration almost sent him over the edge.

Today is Day 6 for us Down Under, and in the spirit of all things Australian, on the menu for dinner tonight chez les Hendricks:  Kanga Bangas...yep you read it right and they weren't half bad!

Friday, 14 January 2011

Next Chapter

It's Friday morning, C2 returns tonight from his trip to the U.S.  The weather looks ok so not anticipating our usual weather delays.  We have the weekend in Victoria with Phil, Marge, and my mum; and then C2, J, and I embark on our next chapter.

There is much to do in the coming days, we depart for Melbourne January 17, arrive on January 19, must collect keys from the house agent and open our new house.  Feels a little odd since we only actually visited this house for about 10 minutes and largely forget what it looks like.  Is there a downstairs bathroom?  Is there an upstairs shower?  How big was the garage?  We've got to get bank accounts opened, money transferred, two cars and GPSs purchased, and figure out how to get around on the dang wrong side of the road.

This is the only part of relocating that I am not particularly fond of.  The figuring out of new services, finding the nearest grocery store, feeling like the only one in the city perpetually lost, and perhaps most profoundly, feeling like a visitor waiting to go home.  I remember from our relocation to Geneva that most of this uncertainty passes in a couple of months as familiarity settles in.  Just kinda wish I could fast forward to that part.

I am also trying to be very zen about Murphy's pending journey.  She is scheduled to ship in early February out of Geneva to Zurich then to Amsterdam where she will overnight before transferring to Malaysian Airways to Kuala Lumpur, changing planes, and carrying on to Melbourne.  She will be met by the Australian Quarantine Inspection Service upon arrival and driven to the quarantine facility for a 30-day stay.  She is a healthy 12-year old Labrador but still a 12-year old dog.

I expect a minor miracle if she survives the journey with her health and complex documentation intact.  I would expect a second minor miracle if she survives the quarantine.  I fret about her distress and feeling of abandonment.  This is a dog used to sleeping in our bed and receiving much love and attention.  My heart gets stuck in my throat every time I think too much about her.  I am trying very hard to acknowledge that between myself,  Nathalie (who has her in Geneva right now), our wonderful Genevois vet, and our Melbourne-based pet relocation agent, we have dotted every "I", crossed every "T" and done everything in our power to ensure her a safe experience.  She will soon be in other, and I hope, equally compassionate hands.

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

A New Year and A New Start

Well, didn't mean to leave you all hanging since my last post.  We did, in the end, make it to Victoria after a three-day delay and via Amsterdam instead of London.  For the last two weeks, we have been heavily immersed in family time, Christmas time, New Year's Eve time, and intense down time and it has been wonderful and rejuvenating, and refueling, and happy.

C2 leaves for the U.S. tomorrow on a somewhat unexpected 10-day sojourn to the mothership.  Not the greatest of timing as we were hoping to leave for Australia in a couple of days but, in the spirit of silver linings, it's all good to hang with the family for an additional couple of weeks.

There has been much letting down of hair, letting loose of anxieties, and letting go of old attachments.   I find that I have hid myself in the embrace of my family's love, breathing in their support, and temporarily removing myself from the minutia of detail that has been our existence for the last three months.  It is Monday night, newly into 2011, and time to re-engage the detail, remind myself whom I have left behind and of what is yet in front of me.

 I have been dreaming about missed buses, missed trains, missed cabs and missed flights, all of which I guess relates to my anxieties over the very protracted and emotional exit of our old life and the start of our new one.   Still, Victoria has been a profoundly satisfying limbo, where I can mourn the old, celebrate the now, and anticipate the new.