Three Year Expativersary

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Today, I’m blowing out three expat-birthday candles.

I have aged past expat-toddlerhood. To extend the metaphor, that means that I’m walking confidently and have mastered most of the fine motor skills requisite to expat life. 
Indeed, this year was a lot about my child-having, a life milestone which I have no way of comparing to any American experience. No matter where I live, having my first baby will always be connected to Australia and the Australian way of doing things. Considering that Australia was named the 10th best country to be a mother (compared to the U.S.’s ranking of 30th), I feel fortunate to be here, though I wish I could have merged all that is great about Aussie motherhood with having family and long-time friends nearby.

Feelings of national identity were on my mind a lot this year with the heated Presidential election, as well as the gun control debate that began after the tragedy at Sandy Hook. I often find it hard to talk about without sounding as if I’m disparaging my home country, but there were many times this year that I felt my personal philosophy and political viewpoint fit more in Australia than the U.S. Though I have never been an overtly U-S-A-U-S-A chanting-“patriot” who is Proud To Be An American in the Lee Greenwood-Toby Keith sense,” American is part of who I am, and sometimes I found it sad to feel so out of sync with parts of the national conversation.

We made a concious decision this year to stay in Sydney, rather than move elsewhere in Australia (more on that later), so that makes this the year that I found my roots have embedded deeply enough in this city that I would like to call it home for some time to come. I won’t lie, it remains a precarious relationship, Sydney and me, but I’ve found enough to love that we’ve decided to stay together and make it work.

This was also the year that I learned to love Australian Christmas on its terms. I was certain that Christmas would remain the final frontier in expat acceptance, that I’d be dreaming of a white Christmas for however many years we live in the antipodes.  I still look forward to my next American Christmas, whenever that may be, but was able to find joy in the holiday for the first time Down Under.

And, the Aussie phrases just keep slipping into my vocabulary. “How are you going?” “Yeah, good.” I even slipped a “heaps” into an email the other day. Oh, it happens, slowly but surely.

As I’ve done in years past, I’ll conclude with some of the significant images from my year. Year three and Australia have been good to me. I’m wishing for myself and my family many happy returns.

Anniversary dinner cruise

Sculpture by the Sea

Election party

Hawkesbury postal boat cruise

Baby shower

Jervis Bay

Jervis Bay

Kiama, NSW

Down Under and American Christmas treats

Boxing Day, Sydney to Hobart launch

New Years Eve, Sydney Harbour Bridge

 Baby baby.

Hushpuppy’s Unitarian Universalist dedication ceremony

A project I worked on comes to completion

2 passports down, 1 to go

My devonshire tea birthday party at The Tea Cosy

6 month old little lady 

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