Random conversations

Today I had to have some tests done. As the radiologist flicked through the pile of previous scans from various countries, she finally asked me where the most recent one was.

Good question – I have no idea. I’m sure it was packed but where it is now is anyone’s guess. I explained we’d been out of the country for quite a while and she became quite excited when I told her where.

“Me too!” she whispered, like it was a dirty little secret. And it struck me again how difficult it can be to talk about your former life lest you sound like you’re bragging. But what else have I got to say?

Sometimes, I must admit, I feel lost in conversations because I can’t relate to what people are talking about. Half the time I’ve got no idea what area, what group or which child they mean. The only experiences I can contribute see me starting a sentence with “in Singapore…” and each time I do that, I inwardly cringe.

I know it’s probably just my paranoia making me self-conscious and most likely people don’t notice, but in the early stages of friendship, I don’t want to come across as brash or overbearing by scattering snippets of our overseas existence into conversations.

So it was quite nice to have a chat with someone who had, as it turned out, a surprisingly similar experience to me. Same length of time away, we’d lived in the same country and her feelings of displacement when they first repatriated were exactly what I am experiencing now.

Basically, her husband had had enough after 10 years and wanted to return home. By that stage, they were living in Singapore and she was happy there but home they came. She said it took her approximately two years to assimilate and that she still missed the expat life. Despite enjoying her life in Australia now, she’s holding out hope that one day they’ll relocate again.

I wonder if the wanderlust ever leaves you?

Christmas! And a happy new year.

How fast did the weeks before Christmas pass by? Work was crazy busy – I was doing  12 hour days leading up to the main event and thanking my lucky stars I’d organised the food a week before. You see, for the first time in 10 years, we were finally able to host Christmas at our house.

One thing that struck me was how easy it was to shop here for Christmas lunch. Dry goods were purchased a week or so earlier. An early-morning trip to Pellegrino’s on Christmas eve sorted out the fruit, veg and cheeses; an order at Chicken Thyme netted free-range, roasted chooks for collection on Christmas morning and Mum provided the ham. Everything was fresh, and available, a complete novelty when you’ve been on an island where things often run out right when you need them.

Throw in a lamb roast while the potatoes were cooking, recruit some relatives for salad duty, organise a steady flow of champagne while assembling the cheese platter and voila! Christmas lunch is done!

It was wonderful how much of an effort people made to ensure the day was a special one. Both sides of the family were here and the kids were in their element. Santa could finally provide gifts that didn’t have to fold flat into a suitcase or bought in the hope that they didn’t survive the flight home. And the best bit was that they could play with them all day without having to pack them away before moving on to the next location. I think an epic game of Monopoly is still being played in the lounge room

An enjoyable afternoon was spent playing ping pong in the garage and dodging pellets from Nerf guns, something Santa had avoided producing for the last few years.

The kids had a wonderful time, and we’ve spent the last few days catching up with with family and friends, a lot of whom are in various stages of travel and transition. I love the fact that although the kids haven’t seen each other since we left Singapore, they play like they saw each other only yesterday.

So this year, save for an overnighter, we’re basically staying put for the holiday season. No flights, no long drives and nothing in particular planned, which is sheer bliss. The kids are hanging out in the backyard, we’re sorting out a few things around the house and that’s the extent of it until I go back to work.

To all those who are travelling, relocating or in transit, I wish you well with wherever your journey takes you and I wish everyone a safe and happy New Year. Enjoy!