Monday, March 25, 2013

The Learning Curve

It's been a month since Sina and I touched down in Melbourne. And in retrospect, adventure seems an understatement when I start itemizing everything I've experienced.

There were the obvious things like weather at first. And walking everywhere. But there was a lot more than that. I learned that I had underpacked woefully. I learned that things that seemed as if they should be straightforward could take weeks to resolve - like finding a rental property in our budget and in a decent neighbourhood.

I learned that I had never fully appreciated having a vehicle in the past when we became totally dependent on transit to travel the city and outfit a home. This was particularly educational as Sina and I traveled across the city to buy shelving which we then had to tote home on a bus, a train, and another bus as well as any other shopping we'd acquired. Later Trevor and I carried a television home on the train and bus to bystander's incredulous grins. We actually contemplated doing the same with a microwave but decided it could wait. It's all a little surreal to realize that some people have been doing this all their lives.

I had forgotten how important warmth, a real bed and a hot shower are in helping a person feel a sense of wellness. It took 6 days to get the gas hooked up so we could shower. Likewise that long to be able to cook a meal on our gas stove. We ran out of time on moving day to get enough bedding to stay warm and had to wait until Monday and a bus ride to a nearby shopping center to purchase quilts. Parts were out of stock for our bed frame and we had to wait several days before we could stop sleeping on the floor. Sina is still sleeping on the floor on cushions from the couches until we can make arrangements to have a bed delivered for her. Hopefully that will be soon. I doubt I will ever look at my bed the same way again.

Today as I vacuumed the house for the first time since we moved in with the vacuum cleaner I carried home on the bus, I had an idiotic grin on my face at the sheer delight of a clean floor and being able to suck up the spiders. This experience is reminding me every day just how transient our well being is. It takes so little to push us out of our comfortable zone of entitlement. I am feeling suitably chastised, believe me. My first desperate cold shower (after having attempted a bath in water heated repeatedly via electric kettle) nearly made me throw my back out when the first shot of icy water hit my back. So the first warm shower was absolutely delicious. 

I'm learning to take delight in small things like spotting Aussie tv celebs at the market, finding a solution to warming Scentsy bars without a plug in warmer, navigating a completely unknown neighbourhood successfully with a trusty map, experiencing my first buffet of "light refreshments" according to new Polynesian friends, and listening to a pair of special needs adults on the train having a chat while one of them is talking into a voice recognition device simultaneously and enjoying himself. I still can't help grinning when walking outside in a t-shirt and shorts in March, listening to the birds and smelling the flowers that are still blooming. Each time I hear someone say,"no worries," with complete and total sincerity, I am grateful I get to experience all of this. 

Am I homesick? Not really. Am I out of my depth? Most definitely. But I'm still having the time of my life stumbling through my continued adaptation to this new world. Every day brings a new list of things I need to tackle. And I'm doing it. It's not always pretty. There have been some tears but more laughter than anything. I couldn't do it alone, though. We were fortunate to find an amazing ward and to have chosen the best companions possible for our move. Pretty awesome all round.  

This week Trevor will travel to Townsville leaving Sina and I to battle on solo for a few days. We're going to tackle some baking challenges and christen the oven and bakeware with gusto. Should be most entertaining. And that's what this is all about - figuring out how to be who we are in a completely new frame of reference. 

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Life in a Suitcase

People always talk about how much they like traveling. How exciting it is seeing new places and experiencing new things. I think it's a little suspicious that you never hear them raving about how thrilling it is to live out of a suitcase continually in limbo and uprooting every few days to go somewhere different. Perhaps it's because that part of travel is rather dreadful.

I have discovered that I don't really like traveling. I like seeing new things. I like trying new experiences. But at the end of the day I want to return to the stability of my own things, my own base and the familiar. So this past week and a half of waiting for a home base to come into being has been particularly painful. I have to repack my suitcase every couple of days just so I can still find things inside it that I need. Because those tiny things you know you packed have a habit of migrating around underneath the piles within each suitcase.

We're in a serviced apartment right now which means we have a perfunctory kitchen with the basic essentials. Most of our meals are taken care of in the communal kitchen downstairs, but we still have to take care of things on weekends for the most part. I consider myself relatively adaptive, but there are some glaring inadequacies with the current facilities in our room. No salt and pepper. No serving bowls. Glasses that are too small for a long cool drink. No dishrack for drying the washing up. Little things that you could overlook for a short stay, but the longer it lasts, the more I find myself lusting for a full kitchen.

The rental process is a little different here. In order to apply to rent any property you have to physically inspect it first. Then you have to fill out a 3 page application specific to the agency handling that property along with all the corroborating documents that prove you're not an axe-murderer with money laundering connections. The agency then screens the application (one for each adult planning to live at the property) and hopefully deems you worthy to be passed onto the owner for their final say. Because all our documentation stems from Canada, it's taking a little longer than we'd like. We've been told three weeks is about average for finding and securing a place. Add to that the fact that we'll have to get EVERYTHING to start a home but we can't begin the process until we actually have said address, and you can see the difficulty. I'm sure I'll adjust, but it's demoralizing to realize I'm much more uptight than the average Aussie. And I thought I'd done so well in mitigating my OCD. Apparently not.

On the plus side, we're having an extended summer. So in less than a month I've gone from a parka and snow boots trudging through snow drifts to sandals and shorts every day hiding out in air-conditioning for the afternoons. Today is supposed to reach 36 or 37 degrees again.

In spite of all the challenges, we're doing all right. I have been able to cobble some fairly palatable meals together with the mini kitchen. But the need to really cook is simmering under my skin with a fair bit of urgency. Probably because of all the incredible produce I encounter at the market on our regular visits. It will happen. In the meantime I have to keep reminding myself to focus on the pluses and let go of the niggly bits. My new challenge. But I really, really don't like life in a suitcase.