Day 16 Expat Blog Challenge Prompt: Respond- “It is a bitter-sweet thing, knowing two cultures. Once you leave your birthplace nothing is ever the same.” -Sarah Turnbull

Maybe it’s because it’s raining, and I’m tired and sick, and my husband is sick, and my kid is sick. My kid was the one who got us into this mess in the first place. She got sick, then coughed into my mouth – I mean straight into my open mouth – and exactly six minutes later, I had the flu. So, even though she’s only one, and the light of my life, I’m kind of mad at her, too because she made me sick, and then she continued with being sick and cranky, waking up all night and crying for no reason that can be appeased.

That is probably why I keep staring at this prompt and all I can think about is chocolate. I can’t get past “bitter-sweet.” I read “It is a bitter-sweet…” and my brain just goes, “chocolate,” and can’t go any further.

Luckily, I have chocolate in the house. I don’t usually. I have it because my husband, who is decidedly the nicest man on this green earth, went out to get us a massive sushi feast from our favorite restaurant on Valentine’s Day so that we could have a nice dinner together, and though I decided that asking him to buy some dessert while he was out was really pushing my luck, he read my mind and came home with ice cream and a packet of Tim Tams, which are literally (if you watch Parks and Recreation, please insert the Rob Lowe intonation of literally there)… LIT-er-ally the best invention that this fair country has ever devised.

Tim Tams are what’s on my mind today while I try to write this, not deep thoughts about cultural issues, or how my connection to my place of birth has or has not degraded, or how this is all going to impact my Third Culture Kid. There’s something floating around back there about the people I know from high school who still live in the town that we grew up in, about how, if Facebook it to be believed, they have rather nice looking lives, surrounded by comfort and family. And, how that was never going to be my life, though I can’t tell you why. There’s also this passing thought about repatriation, when that might happen, and how it’s something I feel I need to do one day, but simultaneously dread, and want to put off for a fair while longer. Something about that…

But, mostly it’s the Tim Tams – “slammed” into the cup of Earl Grey I just made myself. It is going to be hard to find a Tim Tam when I go home. Oreos – OK. Milanos – meh. Chips Ahoy – don’t even talk to me. Before I moved to Australia, those were pretty good options, but I can never un-know the Tim Tam. Just like I can never un-know seeing Sydney Harbour more days than not. Like I can never un-know having Fiji and Tasmania right there as long-weekend destinations. I can never un-know Adam Hills, and Paul Kelly, and seeing Geoffrey Rush and Cate Blanchett on stage. I can never un-know Medicare and strict gun control. I will forever know the difference between Vietnamese, Thai, Japanese, Chinese, and Indian cuisine. I can never un-know recognizing the difference between an Aussie, British, Kiwi, and South African accent, and I can never un-know having friends who have had to apply for “additional pages” in their passports.

So, I suppose it is true, like the quote says (after the chocolate part) that “nothing is ever the same.” Once you know these things, there’s no un-knowing them. You also know that there’s so much more to know, and that makes it even harder to go home. 


9 thoughts on “Bitter-sweet

  1. It’s so funny that you mentioned knowing the difference between the Aussie, Kiwi and South African accents! I was never able to tell them apart until I moved here. They all sounded vaguely “Australian” to me. Haha, I’m glad I’m not the only one. I hope you feel better! I’d say something about echinecea and green tea and whatnot, but I really think only time, a good night’s sleep and staying hydrated are the “cure.”

  2. I am so sorry that you’re family is sick, but maybe you should be sick all the time because this is brilliant!! I feel the same way about Tim-Tams- we have a very intense love-hate relationship (I hate myself for how much I love them). And you’re just so unbelievably right about ‘un-knowing’!! I am so proud of myself for knowing the differences between accents and knowing what kind of curry I like… and Thai, and for knowing what ‘real’ Chinese food is. Ugh. Now you’ve made it hard for me to write, with all your brilliance. 🙂 Hope you guys feel better soon!

    1. Oh, how sweet to read something so lovely when I’m sick! Thank you, I needed that!
      And, I hate myself a little for how many Tim Tams I ate while writing this. Love-hate, indeed.

  3. Lmao! This post was just perfect! I love how you got stuck thinking about chocolate & that you can never un-know the tim tam! The tim tam is LIT-er-ally the best cookie every. I really want a tim tam slam now! PS It was also cool how to managed to tie in all the other things you cannot un-know. 🙂

    1. Thank you!!
      I hadn’t done a Tim Tam slam in so long, but I had the tea and I had the Tim Tams and, yeah, I remembered why people love it. So-so good. I almost feel better.

  4. Sorry to hear that you are all under the weather, but I have to agree with Kelli that it hasn’t affected your ability to write well. We love Tim Tams in this household, and agree that there is no substitute for them. Best wishes for a speedy recovery for all, and a better night’s sleep tonight.

  5. i love this post. it was perfect. and made me laugh out loud at the library which is probably why teenage kids are looking at me like a crazy Tim Tam. I don’t know the Tim Tam but this post might have solidified my trip to Australia just to try one. FAVORITE LINE (and it was hard to choose b/c there were sooo many funny ones) : “She got sick, then coughed into my mouth – I mean straight into my open mouth – and exactly six minutes later, I had the flu. So… I’m kind of mad at her…” bahahahaha.

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