Friday, December 08, 2006

Cross-roads

I've been doing a lot of drawing within lately, becoming somewhat introverted while thinking over a lot of things. It's rather all encompassing, as I've been thinking about where I am, where I'm heading, what I want from the future, how the choices made now will affect the direction of the rest of our lives. Part of this is the time of year... at the beginning of the year we were going through the major change of adapting to life with a baby, my dogs were recently arrived from quarantine, Charlotte passing away, we lost Nic's grandfather on almost the same day after a lot of emotional decisions to place him in full-time care as his memory and mobility were degrading to the point he couldn't be unattended safely. I felt the weight of my choice to move to a foreign country, marry and have a baby settle on me and fully realized that so many of the things which had made up my life previously were now gone or different. Rather naeively, I hadn't thought the country would be very differently structured in some ways... discovering that I would have to choose between city and country was one of those, as many places in the US have farms right next to the city and intermingled even. So many of the things I took for granted as simply being part of how the world worked were different here, sometimes unavailable, sometimes just unaccessable because I didn't know how to find them in this place. I felt like I was starting all over again as I had to relearn what was involved in virtually everything, because while some things were similar, some were quite different and I had no way of knowing which was which until I landed knee-deep in it... a most disconcerting experience to be sure! As much as a culture shock, there was also the huge difference of going from a place which was supremely rural and which I deeply loved, to living in the inner suburbs and having to adapt to a fashion-concious cafe culture where what label you were wearing and the cut of your hair were much more important than previous. Looking back, it's been a huge amount of changes in such a whirlwind, short time. It's daunting to look back on and realize how monumental it's all been.

At the start of the year, I'd made a list of New Years Goals. Some of them I've achieved, some of them I haven't. Some still seem important, others not so much. Other things have happened that I didn't plan on, both bad and good, that have made me reassess a lot.

Another part of this is that this is Nic's mum's birthday and the anniversary of her death. The fourth birthday, the fourth Christmas, the fourth year she won't be able to spend with us and we feel her loss so keenly. Gods, it still seems like such a short time ago and at the same time, ages and ages ago. Her loss at such a young age, when she still had so much to live for and so much she wanted to do highlights for me the reasons why I feel your dreams should be pursued. She spent her whole life wanting to move to the country, to pursue her interests, to live her dreams... and kept telling herself that the time wasn't right, she needed to do this or that first, she'd have it "someday". She lost that when we lost her to a reoccurance of cancer. I've seen my uncle pass away still with so much to do. I've seen too many others wait until it was too late as well. I don't want that for myself. I've always been that way and other things that have happened have highlighted the importance of pursuing your goals avidly and not waiting... almost 10 years I've been waiting to show dogs and actively trial and time after time I let things get in the way. I do regret that, I regret not pursuing those dreams more actively, working to make them happen instead of telling myself there was always time to do it later, time to do it when I didn't have so many other obligations, when "the time was right" and conditions were ideal. Life thus far has shown me that conditions are never ideal and they don't need to be to go after what you want and be successful.

I suppose also, my time in college comes into this, as I really wish I'd been able to complete my veterinary degree. I do understand that at the time it would have been darn near impossible, just too many other things stacked against me and I wasn't in the right place for it to happen. I still toy with the dream from time to time, taking it out and cherishing it, imaging what it would be like, though I do also feel that it's no longer something perfectly suited in that it would mean a huge amount of time taken away from my family, the stress involved in attaining the degree and I do have other interests I'd like to pursue as well. But a part of me wishes the idealistic dream had happened and I had that diploma to my credit, something to show that I'd gone after and fought for and won. The not-so-mature part of me would like to throw it back in the face of my father for every time he told me I was stupid, worthless, a waste of time and would never amount to anything. The more mature part of me knows I've accomplished more than he ever will and that the most maginificent achievement in my life and my number one priority is my beautiful child and my family. But that immature side giggles manically at the idea of thumbing my nose at him still. ;-)

The last part of it is that we're almost about to move. After waiting to sell this house for 2 years, we've only got a few days till auction on the 16th. I'm insanely nervous. What if we don't get a good offer? What if this drags on for months? What if we run up thousands of dollars in advertizing? What if it's not enough to get us the house we want? What if it IS? What if.... what if! Such an uncertain feeling, as if the floor might drop out from under me but I can't be sure of it. And then there's still the question of where to move.

I dearly want to move to the country. I want acerage, I want peace, I want to be able to have dogs, do agility, herd... eventually breed and start my own kennel. I want a huge vegetable garden. I want quiet walks down country lanes. I want the place I left when I moved from the US.

I also want a school which uses a particular educational philosophy for Laurent as education is such a hugely important thing for me. I also am concerned that it's decently ranked because such things do count when it comes to college and I want him to have that opportunity if that's what he wants. Unfortunately the school for that is about a 5 minute walk from where we live in suburbia. I'm no fan of suburbia, it's clausterphobic and noisy and I hate having neighbors piled on top of you. I don't like that the only trees are ones that are carefully pruned and neatly tended in fancy gardens instead of just growing wild and free and not made to conform. Anthropmorphizing? Why, yes! But no less true for it. It's not that I mind the shops and the cafes, that I don't like the fashion or the food... it's that I want those things near where I have my nice acerage and can have the lifestyle I want.

I also have to consider work. Work is in the city. It's where the vast majority of jobs are and if I move to the country and drag Nic along, that means finding a new job or a way to commute, which for a person who doesn't drive is a big obstical. And if he looses a job, then it's that much harder to find a new one in the country.

I also have to consider what the area is like. Unlike the US where country doesn't necessarily mean the people are backwards, feral bogans... here it often seems to. That's not the type of community I want Laurent to grow up in or the values that I want him to come up with.

I very much also feel the need to settle. I'm tired of everything shifting and being up in the air. I've moved from place to place and been as rootless as a gypsy wanderer since I was 18 and moved wherever school and work were. I don't want more major changes. I want to settle, to put down roots and not budge. I want a house isn't just a house but a HOME... one that I'm going to stay in till I'm old and wrinkly and surrounded by fat, happy grandchildren.

So it feels like whatever path I choose at this point, it will really define the majority of my life.

I can choose to stay in the suburbs, which I really don't like and won't be able to realize my dreams in. I can set up my life here, have a few dogs but never breed. I can reconcile myself to the fact that this is what's right for Nic and best for Laurent's education. But it won't change the fact that that's ALL it will ever be - me reconciling myself, settling for what's "right" despite what my heart and soul tells me. The idea of staying in the suburbs for the rest of my life makes me physically queasy. From as early as I can remember, I always hated living in them and loved living in the country, loved the small townness, loved the quiet and solitude. I suppose it can be said that when I'm ready to "retire" then I could go out to the country and live my dream but that goes back to what I said about how I feel about waiting for "someday" to come... I'm only too aware that it might not and that would be something I regreted forever. It also goes back to what I said about not wanting to uproot myself and my whole life again to move from the city to the country someday, leaving behind everything I've established here for myself, leaving the lifestyle that Laurent will have grown up in, the one that Nic will then have another 30-40+ years in.

On the other hand, I could move to the country but that would be a very permanent move because there's no way that once I set up my life there, started a kennel, invested my everything into that... no way could I give that up. As absurd as it sounds, I really didn't know I was giving it up the first time when I moved here. I decided to move here 3 days after arriving, knowing virtually nothing about the place and only having Nic's word that we'd sell and find a place more suited to us. I assumed at the time this meant that we'd be able to find an acre or two on teh outskirts of a major town because this is how the US is laid out. Had I been told I'd be stuck in suburbia for the rest of my life by moving here, I'm not sure I would have moved here.

This isn't to say I regret my choice to move here. I've gained several wonderful things, not the least of which is my family, my child, my cat and my beautiful new puppy who is in a way the furfillment of a long-time dream. I've grown into myself in so many ways. I've definitely changed. Some of that has to do with becoming a mum I suppose but a lot of it I think is just plain old personal growth.

I feel like I'm casting about trying to understand it all and find a direction and something solid to stand on but I feel completely certain and calm too. I'm not sure there's really a point to this... or maybe that is the point: that there is no point because I feel like I'm lacking one at the moment. Just trying to sort this all out in my head! If you've made it this far you deserve a medal... I'm not sure I made it this far and I wrote it!!!

4 comments:

Sif said...

Big things to consider. I'd be ever so wary of turning my back on a life long dream though. I know Laurent's education is a huge deal, I think though the way the tertiary system in Australia is, we don't have the whole Ivy League deal. Even kids from lowly public highschools can get into the best courses at the best Universities based on academic achievement alone. Yes, certain private school "groom" their kids to get the best marks, but Universities here also know students from private schools are considered the least likely to cope with the rigours of tertiary education, and so being from a private school doesn't guarantee placement...

Maybe look more into Australia tertiary requirements when considering your choices because we don't have the whole "interview/portfolio of acheivements/fraternities" thing going here.

Also, what you want for Laurent may not turn out to be what he wants for himself. Giving up your life long dream, your essential self, to meet as yet unexpressed needs in your infant son might be something you live to regret.

Just some thoughts that came to mind reading this...

Anonymous said...

I agree with Sif. Although I understand you need to weigh up each 'decision' and find one that suits the whole family, you can't turn your back on your dreams so easily. Sure, you may not be able to achieve the full 'country living' but i'm sure there will be semi-rural properties that will show themselves at the right time. You are just as important as the rest of the family and that is something mothers often forget!!!

Anonymous said...

There are market garden farms 10 minutes from me, across not further out, farms that are 25 mins from the CBD ... I am sure you just haven't stumbled onto the right area yet, Australia is a big place. I think following your dream is important - no school is going to be *the* place that makes a difference, a rich family life is so much more.

loz said...

I couldn't have said it any better myself then above but also we have about 6 kennels around me and I am about 35mins from the CBD farms, acreage and you know what even a few of the best schools in Melbourne one of which is in the middle of absolutely no where land yet it is being built around at the rate of knots. The right place is out there ad I am sure you will be able to find what is best for all 3 of you if you look outside the square:)