Throwback post: Saying Goodbye, January 2013

It has been months since I have written here. In truth, I have been holding my breath, too scared to make the ‘announcement’ I needed to make for fear it would invite its destruction. But I have decided to face that superstitious fear and tell it as it is – the end is finally in sight. After over 2 years apart, my husband and I have been told to expect a successful result on our marriage permission application in the coming weeks inshaAllah.

When we were given the expected time frame of 2 months, I was shocked. Incredibly happy, but shocked. I spent the next few weeks expecting a phone call saying there had been a mistake and it would actually take much, much longer or they would not give it to us at all. While it still hasn’t sunk in completely, I seem to have accepted it enough to step onto the emotional rollercoaster that accompanies any major life change.

I’m suddenly overwhelmed with the constant urge to take solitary walks to all the places that have formed the scenery of my life so far, soaking up all the sounds and smells I have taken for granted all these years. Soon there will be no annoying squawking cockatoos ravaging through the garbage bins, no ceaseless trill of cicadas or southerly winds to cool me down in the summer, no more whiffs of lemon tea tree. Every now and again I walk the short distance from my work, down past Darling Harbour and visit the apartment building my husband and I used to live in. I visit it knowing that the magic is gone and only exists in my memories but I go anyway like some demented old person visiting a long dead loved one’s grave. This tendency seems to be mushrooming in recent times. I find myself with the constant urge to visit all the places I anticipate will feature in future nostalgic daydreams. I even have a list of places to visit because there are so many I lose track. So many places to say goodbye to and to imprint in my memory bank to draw upon in the inevitable bouts of homesickness. I need to go for a walk along Cronulla beach where my grandmother used to take me to play when I was little. This stage in my life is certainly a lesson in nostalgia and I have a feeling it is only the beginning. Maybe this is what it’s like being old. Like all silly humans, I know that even with my weird hippy, memory chasing, loving-everything phase I’m going through right now, I will never appreciate it as much as when I am far from it. Strangely, I haven’t yet experienced the same sensation with the people in my life yet. I’m not sure what this says about me but I’m going to wait and see what happens next before I pass any judgements on that one.

And so begins the emotional rollercoaster which I have discovered preludes the start of a new life in Saudi Arabia. This is not helped in the least by the fact that there are assignments to be completed, full time jobs to attend and legal marriage ceremonies to organise and of course, a long distance marriage to maintain. Quite frankly, I’m a mess. And I think I’m turning into a hippy. Then emerge all the memories of my childhood in this little town I call home and yet have been trying to escape for years. I remember lunch times in primary school where if you didn’t wear your hat it was ‘no hat, no play, have a very boring day’ and the teachers made you pick up a hundred gumnuts off the ground as punishment. I remember watching Captain Planet at the next door neighbour’s house and how it always smelt weirdly clean and her dad was always telling us not to touch the walls. I remember all my little girl friends and I at the end of a day of school grabbing mulberries from a tree as we ran down the hill to meet our parents at the bottom and how one day one girl fell on her way down and my mum thought it was me.

All of these memories, this country, everything makes me who I am especially so as I am about to play the role of ‘foreigner’. Now, the challenge is to keep who I am while adapting to my new home, a place so different in nearly every conceivable way to my home country. But it’s exciting because it is a clean slate. It is something my husband and I can create together and that is a beautiful thing.

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