May 3, 2011

what's next?

When I moved to Australia almost eight years ago, it was for love.  There was no other reason that I had at that time to leave the place where I was born and the place that I had called home for 27 years.  England.

I had been living in London for five years, and I was loving life, my job, my friends, my freedom from studying and exams as I'd recently finished my post graduate studies and finally felt able to truly enjoy what London had to offer.  Will and I had been together for only 18 months, but together in the most together sense of the word and from Day 1, when I knew this was the person I wanted in my life above all others, and we both became the couple that I had always wanted to be a part of.  We holidayed and lived together within weeks of meeting one another, so that he should want to return to Australia to pursue his education meant that I had to choose where my own future would be.  And at that time, there was no question.  I was going to go wherever he went and in any case, it was only going to be for a little while, just while Will found his feet, and then we'd move back to England.  So I boarded the plane and I will never forget the way I felt when he came to meet me at the airport (a story for another time maybe) and my life away from England began.  Our relationship went from great to even better, my career took off, I enjoyed challenge after challenge at work, we became engaged and then married (though I don't think I will ever get over having the small wedding here that my friends and family weren't able to attend), bought our first home, I gave birth to our first child, and then very soon after our second.  All with the backdrop of Will's education and my homesickness that has never abated.

So, eight years later, with Will's architecture degree successfully complete, we are again at a crossroads, only this time the choice isn't so certain, and the mix of a young family, a global financial crisis and the uncertainty of what life might be like anywhere else means we are questioning whether it is still right for us to move back to Europe, or anywhere from the surety that is Brisbane and our life in the promised land of Australia.

It occurs to me as I write this however, that it's not our crossroads, it's mine.  I am the one that needs an answer to 'what's next?', and I am the one that has never truly felt at home here.  Will has always been the flexible, adaptable half of our relationship, happy to go along with whatever situation falls his way, almost letting others make the decisions for him, whereas I am the one that craves the anchor of a permanent home and the certainty that it might bring.  I feel ashamed to admit that love hasn't been enough for me, the yearning for the change of seasons, for Christmas in the cold, for an impromptu Sunday afternoon with my parents has been too strong, and the once blossoming career is now a burden as I struggle to regain the respect, belonging and influence I had before I became a mother.  My stagnant career (and my ongoing pursuit of a more creative path) and becoming a parent has made the draw back to England an even stronger one, not just because I want my family to see my children grow up, but because I want even more to have a sense of belonging, and I suppose I feel as though I won't have that anywhere except back home.

And so, on Friday evening as we drank champagne and I watched and loved and soaked up every moment of The Royal Wedding, amazed at my own wonderment (I knew I would love it, but really - photos of the telly?!) and the picture of happiness and excitement of the Duke and Duchess, I thought about my own partnership, the decisions I have made so far and questioned where my future will be.  My future, not our future, because even though I am a part of this family and inextricably tied to the boys and the man I love so dearly, I need to find my own way, my own path of contentment that will help shape my family's happiness, and find me in that place of my heart and mind that I can call home.

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