A whole new world

It’s hard to know where to start this one.

So much has happened in the last three months.

I still feel like we are in the early stages of developing an understanding of what home-schooling means, looks like, and feels like, for us. But a big part of this is because we are still getting our feet on the ground and our senses used to the biggest change.

We’ve moved half way around the world.

At the end of February, Dave took up a position in South Carolina. We had so many decisions to make in a short period of time, but as a family we discussed each one, and did what was right for us. One of these decisions meant that Dave flew ahead of us, while Indi and I stayed in Australia with our beautiful dog. She had just been diagnosed with cancer and there was no way she would survive the flight. We knew, spending her last months with her, surrounded by all the love in the world was the right choice.

So Indi and I stayed, supported by the love of our friends arounds us, until Ruby gently passed. It was the hardest thing we have ever experienced, but thanks to the support of our closest, we got through it. Then, flights were booked, goodbyes said (so many emotions, so many repeated goodbyes to people and animals we care very much about), covid tests administered, and we were on our way to join, Dave.

Brisbane to Sydney. Sydney to LA. LA to South Carolina. Internal SC flight.

4 flights, 3 days of flying. And a whole lot of jetlag. Between the two of us we had four heavy suitcases. I was worried about how Indi was going to cope with the intense travel. She was incredible, handling her own carry one, pushing a loaded trolley, keeping up. We had planned everything, right down to doctors certificates proving need for her liquid diet, labelled snack boxes for each leg of the journey, changes of t-shirts and underwear, and activities to help get through the 13hour flight to LA. Unfortunately, I got incredibly airsick on the LA flight and could barely lift my head. Indi was amazing. She allowed me to sleep and entertained herself with movies, fidgets, activity books and her special snuggly toys. She tried some of the airplane food, and gently woke me when she needed to go to the bathroom. She pushed her anxiety away when the plane bumped and when an airhostess repetitively spoke rudely to her. She was absolutely stoic.

And thank goodness, her Dad had flown to LA to meet us. We stayed the night and caught the next flight the following morning. Let me say, LA airport is a nightmare. We arrived what we thought was the usual 1.5 hours early, only to be told, you need to be 3 hours early for domestic flights from LA and we may or may not make our flight. There was internalized panic, there was actual running. There was sweat and mentally running the numbers to see how much three tickets would cost if we missed this flight. And all the time, Indi kept up, communicated and calmly took each moment as it came.

We made our flight. And the next one. And finally, took a 25 minute Uber to our new, temporary, home.

The next few days are a bit of a blur of waking and sleeping at odd hours, having zero sense of direction, and wondering how on earth I am ever going to learn to drive on the other side of the road, where the norm is 10-20 miles an hour over the signed speed limit. And if you’re not bumper-to-bumper, your gap is too big!

I awaited the inevitable meltdown from Indi after such an intense period of time and emotion.

Instead, she took stock of her new environment. She began trying new foods and flavours with humour and excitement. She spoke to new people and she sorted her space.

We’ve been here for 6 weeks now. Here on the other side of the world. The clouds look different, the sun rises and sets on the opposite sides of the sky, people sound different and drive fast. Light switches operate in reverse to ours, toilets flush differently and the water goes in reverse rotation. The birds sound different, the animal life around us has changed (beavers, squirrels, bears, frogs, turtles). We haven’t seen a cat since being here but stop to pat everyone’s dogs. The smells are different. We miss having a backyard. We are slowly making some friends. She has continued to amaze me with her growth. If allowed, she would stay inside all day every day, but as soon as I push her that little bit to go out, she is happy in our exploring. She misses her friends, and I sense this in her moods, even though she is still unable to express it in her words. But she continues to grow and amaze me. She is involved in important decision making and is showing me she is more capable than before… folding the family washing, cooking noodles for herself, speaking to the adults around who make her feel valued. She is still a little like cling-wrap, needing to be close by, seeking a lot of touch (hand holding, sitting side by side, or on a lap), but her world has changed and we are her safety. In time, as our friendships expand, I know she will allow a little more distance (for now we’ve been together all day each day since March).

After all, we have a whole new world to explore!

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