When I last left off, I was newly married and still buzzing about our wedding and honeymoon. Nine months on, I'm nearly out of the newlywed phase of our marriage and though the buzz of the wedding has faded a bit, whenever I think about that weekend or see pictures, I can't help but smile because it truly was one of the best times of my life and we were so blessed to have so many people from Australia and the U.S. there to celebrate with us.
I can't believe how quickly the time has flown by! I feel like a lot has happened and like not a lot has changed...(I feel like anyone reading this probably knows me and so this rundown will be old news so skip ahead if you'd like to)
-At Christmas, we adopted two rescue dogs- Diggie and Kona. They are a lot of hard work and generally pains in our asses, but I love having them. They bring a lot of joy to our lives and make our house feel like home and like MOTH and I have started a real, little family.
Bruno now named Diggie.
Kona's name was Jazzy. Here she is with the wonderful lady who rescued her.
-MOTH celebrated his 30th in March. We rented a beach house for the weekend and all of our friends stayed over with us.
-We are both still at our same jobs. I got a (temporary?) promotion (still waiting on the raise portion of it, though, so essentially doing more work and have more responsibility for same, meagre pay). In talks with my boss now whether I like the role and want to stay in it or whether I want to go back to more student services involvement. She is away for three weeks starting today so I am in charge of the office. My sister called me a dictator and I think Little D the Dictator has a nice ring to it! The commute is killing me still and a lot of the time on the weekend I feel like I just want to hang at home to recover from the week. We are thinking that we will move a bit closer to the city at Christmas time when our current lease is up.
-In about 2.5 months we are headed to South Africa to visit my sister and do some travelling with my parents and some of their friends from their neighborhood. I can not wait to go! I've been wanting to go back to Africa for 11 years now, ever since I left Kenya after a graduation trip I took there with my family and a bunch of family friends. We are spending a few nights in Cape Town and are going to see the area where Nae and her boyfriend, PB&J, live, go to the top of Table Mountain and out to Robben Island, and visit the penguins. We are then going to drive through the wine country to Mossel Bay where we will stay a few nights with PB&J's parents and hopefully shark dive and visit Cango Wildlife Ranch where we will be able to pet cheetahs and tigers (obviously not native) and ride ostriches. From there we will go to J-Bay, a world famous surf spot, for the night and then head to Port Elizabeth where we will make our way by boat up a river to a private game reserve and we will be on safari for 4 days there. Following that, we will fly to Jo-burg for a night for a morning flight to Zimbabwe where we hope to do a walk with lions and where we will visit Victoria Falls. Typing that out, I get even more excited as it sounds like such an incredible adventure and I'm so lucky to be experiencing it soon. We have no idea what to do with the dogs, though, so that is causing a bit of stress. MOTH's parents aren't really dog people. They said they'd take the dogs, but they wouldn't walk them and with us being away for 16 days, I don't think that's right. His brother can't take them either because his yard does not have a fence. The place we boarded them at for the weekend of MOTH's birthday is great but is $50 a calendar day per dog so we'd be looking at $1800 for them to stay there (I can do math-we'd have to drop them off the day before we leave and wouldn't get home in time to pick them up before the place closes the day we land in Sydney so they'd be there for 18 calendar days). We are hoping one of his cousins will come through and want to house sit for us. We'd pay them a decent amount, but still save considerably from the $1800 for the boarding place. At the end of the day, though, we will spend that money if need be because they will get fed twice a day, get walked twice a day, and live in a nice area with other dogs to play with.
-Because we have not taken any leave since we got back from the wedding and because I was only allowed to take 2 weeks off for the South Africa trip (against Aussie law, but I won't get in to all that here) we will have a decent amount of leave accrued for next year. We are hoping to go to Oahu/Kauai/one other island for my 30th at the end of February and beginning of March and then go back to CA to celebrate my Mom's 60th at the end of June/beginning of July. I can't wait to get back to CA and can't believe that trip is still nearly a year away.
Anyway, that's the general update. I didn't add it to the list above because it is still in the conceptual phase, but we are moving back to California. This probably won't be for about two years and there are a million things we need to do and figure out before then (ex. me file my US taxes for the time I've been here, save lots of money, figure out whether to have a baby here or there, etc., etc.) but we are at least starting to think about these things. I'm not sure that MOTH is ready now nor am I sure that he will ever be ready but he can see how down I am here so he is willing to take the plunge for me.
I've been in Australia just shy of 8.5 years now and I am ready to move home. And that's the thing, for me, California is home, has always been home, and will always be home. While I think Australia/NSW is great; I still feel like the odd man out here. The lifestyle on the Central Coast is very different from the lifestyle I grew up with. For a while, in my early 20s, I wanted to escape that, to experience something other than living behind the "Orange Curtain", but then my parents moved out of Orange County and up to Santa Cruz and I think I saw some of the best that California has to offer there and when MOTH and I visit them now I think to myself, "Yep, this is it." I envy people who can make home anywhere they happen to be. I have tried that, but for me home is where the people I love live. And yes, I do love MOTH with most of my heart, but the other parts belong to my Mom and Dad and to my sister and to the family friends who felt like actual family growing up and I miss them and I don't like that MOTH feels like he has to make up for their absence. It's not fair to him, but I don't think it's fair to me either to continue to live in Australia indefinitely.
I will look fondly back on my time in Australia when I get to California, I'm sure. It might be a "grass is always greener" scenario and I'll miss Australia and want to come back or MOTH might hate living in the States after a bit so we may just end up in Australia still. But I/we won't know that until we give it a go and move there and give ourselves time to settle in. I have met some amazing people here and have made some lifelong friendships. I came here with that goal of creating and maintaining healthy friendships and relationships and I am happy that I have accomplished this. I also wanted a big adventure and for part of my time here, I feel like I did have one, but now, what was once adventure has become everyday life so I'm ready for the next chapter and for a new adventure to begin.
Until next time, whenever that may be.