It was my plan from the beginning of this adventure to write about the highs and the lows, to write about the totality of our expat experience.. While I haven’t quite achieved that because some of the lows are frankly just so mundane and boring what I/we have achieved is some semblance of an honest documentation of this experience so far, even if posts have been infrequent. Recently we were at a party and a man commented on how brave we were to undertake this at our age. There’s a lot to unpack in that comment isn’t there? The translation of “your age” meaning “aren’t you kinda old for this?” Yep, thoughts I have every day. Then there is the brave part. Several times each month Lawson has to listen to me cry out “I’m not brave enough for this”. What I mean by this is “I am a homebody who desperately wants to put down roots. I am not an adventurer and I most definitely am too old for this whole thing!” Now the man who said this meant it in a positive way and it helped that he had moved abroad multiple times and was approximately our age. There is also in this comment a huge compliment of course – “You are brave/you have courage”. I remind Lawson it took guts to do this but I also recognize that my tank is getting extremely low in courage at this point in this adventure. To paint the expat experience as all joy would not be honest and frankly being unencumbered leaves me feeling a little frayed quite often. I feel like there is a lot of treading water at this point and even though I am a strong swimmer emotional fatigue is inevitable. So you see how boring and tiresome aspects of this adventure can be ..
I have probably said it before but our whole marriage has involved me jumping off of cliffs with Lawson only to be followed by my screaming “how – did – you – talk – me – into – this” all the way down! It you know the children’s books Toot and Puddle, Lawson is Toot (the world explorer) and I am Puddle (the nester). While we had talked about having an expat adventure all of our married life, I did not plan on one that would last so long or that might really involve staying. To no one’s surprise but my own everyone wants to stay except me the flopper who wants here and home both!. While we have no idea what will happen next, we have applied for permanent residency. Now, whether it is granted is yet to be determined but the girls absolutely love it here. We are on a business visa and would love nothing more than to be able to go back and forth between here and the US for business reasons. Home and home! This all seemed very plausible until COVID shut borders and completely upended life. In a perfect world, travel will resume this year and the Australian border will reopen but there are no guarantees and like many other expats planning is difficult. Actually planning right now is impossible and we are all finding that very, very stressful. Our Toot and Puddle books are in storage, along with everything else, back in the US but I wonder how the author would write the end to our Toot and Puddle story?
So here we are….waiting. We submitted our paperwork in December. This alone is a monumental accomplishment. We were the first Americans ever granted our particular visa for the State of Queensland! We received our nomination from the State of Queensland to move to the next step of this process very quickly, no small feat of it’s own., but now our paperwork sits in a pile somewhere at the federal level with no specific date of an answer promised. We have been granted our bridging visa so that has been taken care of it’s now simply the waiting. (Because it has taken me so long to finish this post, we have an update on this….current projections are 20-24 months….Lawson is predictably handling this news in stride while I’m not handling it quite so gracefully.) We will be proud of ourselves no matter what happens and be grateful for all this adventure has taught us. We have tried to raise the girls to be proud to be American but recognize we are also all citizens of the world as well. Maybe it is because we love to travel or because we knew we were going to adopt internationally. I know my parents gift of study abroad in both France and England completely expanded my own world view. What this experience has given us and our girls is an expansion on those things. We are all unique and our countries of origin are equally as unique. We look at the world from an uniquely American perspective for sure but we have added to that perspective and adopted Aussie ways of doing certain things and probably how we see the world. In many ways this experience has changed us and in many other ways it has felt like coming home. It may be that we get a no and we head back home to the US in the coming months. We just don’t know and it is that uncertainty that is for me so maddening. While in my moments of angst I wish we were one of those families where life looked like a straight line from point A to B instead of squiggles all over the place, I do know that in those squiggles (also known as the story of our life) is the hand of God. I’m not remotely sure most days why this Puddle is adventuring at this age but Toot is having quite a good time! Lawson was made for this. Meanwhile, I write to document this experience for ourselves and to keep up with friends but also to find my own voice in the midst of being so far outside my comfort zone. I look for the words inside of me and often find more squiggles but also myself in all my messiness.
I want to thank all of you who have stayed in touch with us. It has been such a hard year hasn’t it? It’s hard to explain what it’s like to watch your homeland from afar during a pandemic and during a year with so much upheaval and division.. I have learned through other expats that what we are going through isn’t unique to us and that has helped. We are thankful for those of you who have been willing to both help us make sense of things back home and for those who keep being our friends even if how we are making sense of things differs from how you make sense of things. This past year has taught us on a whole another level that love truly is patient, kind and most definitely long-suffering. Thanks to those of you who have been those things to us. It’s balm to our weary hearts. We also are grateful for your check ins during periods like the current one where we just aren’t online a lot. We have found the need to take lots of breaks from social media for our mental health. Lent is a great opportunity to limit time spent online so we are taking that time to focus on other things.. As always we are ever grateful for your presence in our life. It has never meant so much! We are also working on updating our email list so on the off chance that we get off social media entirely please message us with your email so that we have it to stay in touch.
Some days this Puddle just wants to go home but my Toot Lawson and the girls remind me that home is all the places we have ever lived but mainly home is them! Puddle would be lost without her Toot who always finds the rainbows while she is sometimes focused on the rain! We hope you are seeing lots of rainbows where you are. Thanks for being a rainbow in our life! We send you love!