One of the things I appreciate most about my new life here in Sydney is that there are lots of moments that remind me of China – meals at Chinese restaurants, snippets of Chinese conversation with classmates, hearing Mandarin spoken about me almost every time I’m out in public… It really helps me feel connected on the days homesickness lifts its head.
A rainy day in Sydney is very much alive with colour and sound and beautiful clouds. There is the sound of rain and of wind, trees twisting in the wind, lightning arcing across the sky, the loud colours of living plants highlighted in the glistening wet. Not to mention the scent of damp earth, and eucalytpus. How can anyone not love all that?
This was the week I finally accepted something I already knew to be true, not just as an idea but as a reality. Repatriation is hard. It takes time – a lot of time. And there is no shortcut. It is challenging to invest in a place my heart is not attached to – my mind has been in the world that I have known and loved and invested in for more than a decade.
I was particularly looking forward to two things: 1) my mum’s cooking, and 2) the colder weather. I also caught up with a few friends and worked on my book. Over 400 people have now completed my survey – people from over 60 passport countries, who have lived in over 130 different countries/territories.
Last week was rough. My body was tired, my emotions frayed, my mind fuzzy; I was full of anxiety and very much on edge. But then everything changed. In a day I went from feeling the worst, to the best, I have since I arrived in Australia. It was almost instantaneous. It was weird. But lovely and most welcome. I’m happy to call it both a miracle and a result of being well loved – which are, really, almost the same thing.
Call it transition, call it grief, call it whatever you like, the result is that I just feel tired. But I was inspired by a list of “used to”s – things she used to do, and things she’s getting used to now. I thought it was an interesting way to reflect on how different the details of life can be during a transition. So here are my own “used to” lists…
A long time ago now I began to collect jewellery as souvenirs. When I wear something I bought in a particular place or with a particular person, I think back to that time and place. And that makes me happy. My jewellery boxes are treasure chests of memories. They are a tangible connection to people and places that matter to me – my souvenirs.
In Chinese certain numbers “mean” certain things. This makes phone numbers a bit of fun in China. Companies often try to play on numbers to make something memorable. Sichuan Airlines famously spent $300,000 on a phone number. The number string 5201314 means “I will love you forever”.