5 years ago today, I boarded a plane with two suitcases and a Prospective Marriage Visa, on my way to make Australia my home. I didn’t have a timeline in mind, but I’m sure that five years would have seemed like quite a long stretch to be here if you’d asked me then. It was a confusing time for me, and thinking beyond more than a few days was head-spinning enough – never mind 5 years. Yet here I am, and 5 years is certainly long enough to feel settled and to build a community. It’s long enough to have seen most of the tourist spots and many of the hidden gems. It’s even long enough to become a citizen.
Taking Australian citizenship was the most significant event this year, in terms of finding my place here. There’s something about being “official” that has made me feel more settled. – it’s like the feeling I had when we got married, even though Partner-in-Crime and I had been living together for some time. That piece of paper changes your relationship in subtle but lovely and important ways.
The other day, a stranger started chatting us up and asked, based on our accents, if we were “visitors or residents.”
“Citizens!,” I proudly replied. (I’m sure he was terribly impressed…).
Beyond taking citizenship – or really, including it – more than anything, this has been a thinking year for me. I spent a lot of time thinking about my place in this country and the U.S. (particularly thanks to a six week visit home). I thought about my professional ambitions and how I want to allocate my time and head space. I thought about politics in both countries, and what I feel is right, wrong, and a little in between. I spent a lot of time tinkering away on this blog both in ways that I think will be obvious and some that are much more philosophical. I thought about the kind of wife and parent that I want to be and what my priorities are for our life together and our future goals. I did a lot more thinking than acting on many of these things, though the 11kg bundle of kinetic energy that I call my daughter kept me in motion all day long every day.
Today, my kid was playing with a toy at her friend’s house and I noticed that she seamlessly transitioned back and forth between calling it a “flashlight” and a “torch.” It’s a little thing, but one that signaled to me how our whole family can all adjust to living with two or more cultures if we don’t overthink it too much. We do our best when we just enjoy our friends, our comforts, our freedoms, and appreciate the gift of being citizens of countries that have welcomed us by birth or by choice.
As I do every year in my expativersary posts (you can find the rest linked at the bottom of this page), I’ll conclude this one with photos of some of our more memorable moments this year.