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.
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…
People keep asking me about re-entry, and whether I’m struggling to re-adjust. The problem is, I’m starting again, more than returning to something. One big difference community living rather than abundant solitude. One similarity is the international flavour of the community I am living in. It’s also lovely to start reconnecting to the culture of my passport country – its beaches and parks, at least!
I have now been at SMBC for a whole week – so here are some stories from my first week of my new life here in Sydney, Australia. I am amazed at how settled and content I feel just one week in. I do expect the weight of the transition to hit at some point, but I live on a lovely campus with lovely people and am enjoying the study so far.
I have thought a lot about what it was like to leave Australia for China. It is the only other transition of this magnitude that I’ve made in my life. I knew when I left for Beijing that it was a Real Move, a permanent change, that I would not be going back to where I was, or who I was, before. I feel the same way now – that this is a bigger change than I can articulate.
I leave Cambodia for Australia tomorrow morning, 11 years since I first moved to China. I have crammed a lot into those 11 years! My whole adult life, the whole span of time lived outside my parents’ house. My entire career. All the things I did on my own, as an independent adult, I did in those 11 years.