Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Email from a Girl Who Has the Ability To Loves Both Her Family and a Country

I want to post a copy of an email I wrote to my whole family in January. I sent it a week after we returned from Australia--it was in response to comments they made on my OFOTO pictures.

I'm posting my email because it somewhat explains my feelings for Australia and the whole issue of separating from loved ones.

Is migration about rejection and abandonment? Or is it about adventure, following your dreams, and embracing opportunity?

Anyway, here's the email. (The stuff in bold is currently added comments and was not in the original email)

I wanted to respond to some of your comments and questions: (the comments on Ofoto)

MELISSA (my younger sister) : I forgot, what is so important about the bridge except you can climb it? I still smile every time I read this. My sister is too cute sometimes.

Answer: Well, the most important thing is (like most bridges) it helps people get from point a to point b. Before that, the only way people could travel to North Sydney (and beyond) was by ferry. And besides that, it's tall and pretty. Makes for a good landmark.

DAWN: (my older sister) Australian or American travelers? She's referring to a picture of us with some other people.

ANSWER-Australian and the visiting family was from the UK....I think? I think maybe they were in the process of emigrating. Or they already did. Tim might be more clear on that. There were no Americans as guests at the park. It was a VERY local kind of place. I actually saw very few people from even outside the state (New South Wales). We definitely stood out as the "cool foreigners" and probably got more attention because of it. Now that I look back we probably stood out as the freaky Americans--not cool foreigners.

DAD: think its time for you to also visit Yellowstone, the Blue Ridge and Smokies..and while you are at it, visit the coastal towns of Northern Maine...and then travel and experience the southern coast of Italy, France and Spain . So much to see. Oh, don't forget the Bavarian Elps. Glad you are beginning to appreciate the beauty of your surroundings. There was a time when I remembered you being at times oblivious to all of this natural and man made beauty. So this all very good! This was my political commercial!

Answer: We might visit those places. We might not. As we talked about before, I'm more interested in spending quality and quantity time at places rather than checking off a checklist of famous places I need to visit.

I would rather have tons of fun and truly experience a different culture....than add new places to my travel resume.

Yes. I do love the Opera House and Bridge. Mostly for some kind of mysterious spiritual reason that I can't and won't try to explain. But that is rare for me. I usually have very little interest in famous landmarks. And I doubt that will ever change.

I'm more into enjoying the simple things in life. A fly on a leaf. Watching Jack and a little boy play monster on the playground. Seeing Jack and four little girls slide down a water slide together. Watching an adorable little boy take twenty minutes to savor and eat one damn little cookie. Witnessing a bunch of Australians get super excited about a koala in a tree. Chatting with an indigenous Australian. Visiting a favorite animal attraction so many times that we have the order of the exhibits practically memorized.

It's hard for me to explain my love for Australia. I like to compare it to a romantic love for a boy/girl. First I had a crush (before we went) and now I'm in love. Talking to me about visiting other countries and appreciating other places is like telling a young woman in love that she should see other people before getting engaged.

Since Tim just likes to travel period and since Australia (like the United States) has such a wide variety of landscapes...he is fine using Australia as our destination. He is pretty sure that like all my obsessions, this one will pass and we won't have to go to Australia every year for the rest of our lives. He may be right. He might be wrong. If he's right, hopefully the next place I have a love affair with will be closer by---like Tyler Texas.

I personally would much rather spend several months or a few years living in one country than traveling to all the famous must-see countries around the world.

I think it would be an amazing, wonderful, and incredible experience to live in Australia for awhile. This would be a complete dream come true for me. Since from when we first got together, I think Tim and I have talked about our desire to live in another country for awhile. And now that I've fallen in love with Australia, the issue is definitely one we're seriously considering.

I would appreciate everyone trying to understand and support our decision. There was once a time where moving to Australia was saying good-bye forever to your family. You go and that's it. Families completely lost touch with each other.

Life has changed. There's email. Video phone. Cheap long distance. (for people who actually live there....not tourists at hotel). And a 14 hour plane ride is really not that long.

Now who knows what the job situation is. We might not be able to find anything that works for Tim. So it might be a mute point. But if we do find something interesting, we are probably going to go for it.

Jack, like most children, is a little weary about such a big change. He's very attached to his cousins. And the rest of you guys as well. On the other hand, he's not heartbroken about the idea and does seem interested.

I was very upset last night and felt guilty for wanting something that "might hurt Jack" so much. I said with my usual drama. I don't want to take Jack away from his cousins! Tim did a good idea of calming me down. It would be one thing if I said "You can never see your cousins again!" But a several-month separation is fine.

I started thinking today that any relationship you have that prevents you from venturing out on adventures is probably not a healthy one. One thing I regret about my teen years is that I did not take the opportunity to travel. Do an exchange program. Hell, I didn't even go on the damn high school spring break trips or field trips to D.C. Why? I was afraid I'd miss mom and dad too much. I really wish I had done those things back then. I wish I had understood that yes, I'd get homesick. Yes, I'd miss my family. But the experience would likely be wonderful and my family would be waiting for me when I got home.

Anyway, if it does become a reality....I would like people to be positive about it around Jack. Remind him of how much fun he'll have. Promise to keep in touch. Reassure him that he'll talk to his cousins. Perhaps change (or add additional) birthday party dates so Jack won't have to miss any.

P.S-back to the travel style thing. There was actually an article about it in Tim's new travel magazine. It's supposed to be the new "In" thing now. They call it "slow travel-- influenced by the desire to stop rushing through life. It talks about spending long periods of time in one place...rather than jumping around. Such as instead of going to a cruise to the Bahamas...spending a week on one island. Or spending six weeks in a city in Spain rather traveling throughout Europe.

I will admit I'm a little jealous of Melissa and Fred....going to Cairns and Uluru. But I'm glad we did what we did. We'll hopefully get to those places someday. If not....so be it. I'll just photoshop myself onto Melissa's and Fred's pictures.

So that is the email.

I want to end this post with a quote from Hodding Carter:

There are two lasting bequests we can give our children: One is roots, the other is wings.

And I would add to that, the genuine blessing to take flight.