A Heart with Two Homes

Beautiful shot of the Golden Gate Bridge by    Michael Pechardo

Beautiful shot of the Golden Gate Bridge by Michael Pechardo

Up until very recently, I could have told you exactly where my ‘home’ was with zero hesitation. I have always been a Brisbane girl and had literally no desire to create a home anywhere else but in sunny Queensland. But then, quite unexpectedly, another place crept in and stole a reasonably large portion of my heart and now I can’t seem to get it back… It has had me quite ‘stuck’, but I think there is a bit of a life lesson in all of this that I will share.

How did I lost this portion of my heart? It all started on what was, more or less, a whim. I was the person in our friend group who wasn’t interested in packing up all my gear and starting a life overseas. It wasn’t necessarily that I was frightened of such a big move - I was just a 20-something who already loved my home city and was content to stay put. Of course, when my friends (and their friends) slowly started drifting off to Europe, Canada, America and more exotic corners of the globe, I felt a pang for unknown adventure. Not enough of a pang to follow suit, but I did save up to do a two month trip to Europe in the (Aussie) summer of 2009/2010. I had a superb time travelling, seeing the world and boarding trains to new countries ‘just because’, but was pretty happy to return to my cosy spot in Brisbane. Unbeknownst to me, the travel bug had bitten my little toe while I wasn’t looking. 

So, after only being home for a month or two, I was itching to leave again. I had been studying machine shorthand whilst working full-time and knew that I’d get nowhere fast with my speed building if I continued to ‘burn the candle at both ends’. There were no formal training places in Australia, so I found a couple of Court Reporting Schools online - one in Canada and one in Dublin, California. Canada is too bloody cold for me, so California it was! I spoke to Sandy at Golden State Court Reporting College and within a month, packed up my apartment, got a visa and off I went. Looking back, I think if I had done that leap slowly with drawn out goodbyes, I would have lost my nerve. I am glad that I swiftly jumped into the unknown. 

As many of you would know, that move led to me meeting Simon, my now-husband, and calling California ‘home’ for six years. I won’t lie - that six years was full of challenges and desperate homesickness. So much so that all I ended up thinking about was the next ‘chapter’… when I would finally get to return home to Australia. My focus was totally upside down! Instead of completely soaking up the positives of living overseas in a new country FULL of places to explore, I wanted to fast forward this time in my life. What I didn’t know then was that our home, our friends (who became family), our little dog Henry, our local park and our favourite places snuck into my heart while I was busy longing for a former life. Of course, it was a life that could never really exist again anyway because life tends to move on.

Photo of sunny Brisbane by    Alice Duffield

Photo of sunny Brisbane by Alice Duffield

Although I learnt SO much about myself, another culture and the world… I wish that I had opened my eyes a little more. Living in America for that long was never in my ‘plan’. Not being able to be employed for years on end was something I completely resented. However, now that I am finally back in Brisbane, I miss my ‘other home’. The home that I didn’t really ever want or appreciate. I have struggled (more than I care to admit) to find my feet in a new/old country and that took me by surprise. 

So, I guess, this life experience has taught me a few things I will share - just in case you are having a hard time adjusting to life in a different country or new set of circumstances OR you have come ‘home’ where everything and nothing have changed in your absence. I am sure that I will find my feet again soon (and so will you).

  1. Appreciate life’s little ‘detours’. Sadly, it’s easier to do this when the moment has passed. 

  2. Take care of yourself and be your own friend, as silly as that may sound. I am always critical and judgmental of my own shortcomings but I would NEVER speak to anyone else in this way. If you are having a hard time adjusting, that is okay! 

  3. If you are having an extra shitty day, reach out to others for a friendly chat, smile-inducing email or a shoulder to cry on. If you can’t - I find a walk in the sunshine and a cup of coffee can reset my day.

  4. Home is where you make it. The next chapter will come soon enough, but there will always be people, places and things that you will miss when you do move on…

Sending my love to my American friends (family) - you will always hold part of my heart. Till we meet again, I will be 'California dreaming'!

Abby xx