I write this about 2 and a half weeks from our day of departure from our home, Sydney Australia, across the Pacific to San Francisco. An almost mirror image of our home here in the South Pacific. It still feels rather exhilarating and a little bizarre that this is happening at all. I get the odd panic attack over things that need doing, or picturing myself arriving. Perhaps because to me, it is yet to feel real. Our home is to be packed up by removalists 3 days from our departure for instance. Adrian is behind me in the kitchen in our flat discussing how to cook capsicum. I’ve had about 3 beers and feeling slightly buoyant and reflective at the same time.
I’ve felt a gamut of emotions, since receiving that fateful call from Adrian saying that his work has offered him a transfer and position in San Francisco. My heart was fluttering, my nerves going into overdrive. My mind working hard to make sense of it all like those old clunky pc’s from when you were a kid. And this was months ago. It’s been such a big year. Full of change, full of discovery and full of seismic shifts and flux. We got married in New Zealand over a weekend, for instance. We went to Italy for my cousin’s wedding; traveling there was such an experience that helped me grow my confidence, as well as my respect for my ancestral culture of Italy.
So it’s been quite the year. I feel all at once very blessed yet at some moments completely overwhelmed. It’s a time of reflection and sentiment for me.
Very soon our lives will be packed up and we’ll leave our home for an indeterminate time. It could be for a year or two, it could be 5 or more. We leave a comfortable home behind; a homely flat that we spent years putting together. We leave amazing friendship circles that we are so incredibly lucky to be a part of. Family that love us. We have both worked very hard to build all this, and it is difficult for us both to say goodbye to it.
It’s very easy for me to forget the fact that we have both worked hard [Adrian exceptionally so], to get to the position we are at today. He has gone from a casual working a few days a week to the head of his brands visual department globally in five short years. [!] It still blows my mind thinking about this, and just how much ambition, determination and self-confidence the man I married has. He doesn’t see it as much as I do.
For myself, success has meant something different. I know I don’t have a fantastic job or career. It’s not to say I haven’t enjoyed being at my current job. It’s been exactly what I needed out of a job, compared to my previous workplace which caused much mental anguish and difficulties. I’ve loved being here, and this job has helped improve and develop me. But I’ve improved in other ways. Namely, my working upon fixing my mental state and improving my mental health, as well as overcoming social anxiety and depression. These are things I still struggle with, but I find that I am slowly getting better every day.
Someone on social media recently asked why I would want to go to America, in a rather sensationalist and hyperbolic manner. This person questioned why anyone in fact would want to go to such a place as it currently is, violence occurring daily, controversial politics et al. It did get me thinking on this topic. Why would anyone indeed want to move there at all as America currently is?
Well, nothing is ever quite so simple or black and white. Yes, the United States is currently convulsing with much pain and torment. I see and hear about so much pain and suffering, anger and sadness radiating from that country. [EDIT: as I’m editing this, another violent attack has occurred, this time in New York].
Yet, I still believe there is good inherent in everything and everyone. Call me a hopeless existentialist if you must, but I truly do have faith in humanity. I have met some of the warmest people who are American, whose warmth and genuine interest and sense of hospitality puts me to shame as an Australian.
The United States appears to be in a state of unrest. That much is evident. It’s quite something, reflecting back upon the changes and perception of the United States’ from the perspective of being a foreigner. I grew up in a fiercely Eurocentric household. Our food was primarily Italian, our cars [if preference allowed] German and media consisted of world news or foreign non-English films]. My father wasn’t anti-American per se; he just truly had reservations on anything American. We grew up therefore in a home where anything and everything non-American was upheld above all else. European design, food, architecture, history, literature was all given the highest regard. Middle Eastern and Asian culture was always highly espoused and respected as well by my dad, who would always remark upon how one culture was so much more close-knit and community based than our own, or how another culture was proud of its traditions and able to retain its cultural heritage.
I always recall whenever my sister and I wanted to watch an American tv programme dad would always remark on it, always desultory and always with a dismissive and unimpressed tone.
He may have been right, as Melrose Place wasn’t exactly the height of culture.
He would get us to watch SBS most of the time, which is a government-run tv channel catering to immigrant audiences and featured many arthouse and foreign films, if you’re not from here in Australia. SBS really did become a staple of many immigrant families, including ours. I always recall watching the San Remo Italian music festival as a kid on Sundays, as well as Italian news. I remember one such film dad made us watch was about the life of a German family in cold war Berlin. It was all very strange and arthouse-y in black and white with subtitles, grim and bleak, urban and gritty, focusing on this family’s troubles and woes, where he excitedly exclaimed in his thick Italian accent:
‘This! This is what life truly is, none of this bullshit American rubbish…’
In hindsight, my boisterous, loud Italian dad really did have a lot to do with the formation and coalescence of my own opines about art, culture and society. Anything British for a long while in my 20’s reigned supreme, for instance.
I’m excited and intrigued to think what may come of our big move.Like I said earlier, it does at times feel completely unreal, like something in a film, or a book like Julia Child’s ‘My Life In France’, which is aptly about her, [pre-fame], moving to France from her homeland America and recounting all her adventures.
It just seems so surreal that we have this fantastic opportunity. I literally have no idea what to expect from the place, the culture, the people. I don’t know what I’ll do, who I’ll meet, where to go for dinners, or where to shop for groceries. Guess that’ll be part of the fun. Finding a new supermarket to go to, or a local spot for dinner. I’m fortunate to know the language and come from a similar culture, yet I know I’ll be analyzing every nuance and quirk and characteristic of life and the people there, and viceversa. I want this move to be the start of new experiences. I want it to shape me into a more worldly and confident person. Speaking to a colleague at my workplace, she told me that:
‘You become a new person every time you move overseas; look at me, I’ve had to learn English, learn the customs, learn the lifestyle. I wouldn’t change it for anything at all.’
Like my coworker, whose kind words were so compellingly thought-provoking, I know that this move will make me into a new person.