We moved from Australia to Canada on July 13, 2006, when I was thirteen years old. The anniversary brings up all sorts of feelings. The following are a couple short pieces I wrote on our 14th anniversary of the move.

I.
The 13th of July, 2006, is the day my life changed forever. Though really it’s strange to pin it to a certain day when there were months before of packing and saying goodbyes. Wouldn’t the day where I found out we were moving to Canada be the actual day my life changed? But that wasn’t an actual day, it was rumours and maybes and airy ideas that slowly became more solid with time, until there was no turning back. We were moving to Canada.

And then the day itself, there’s no real actual turning point, and it’s all turning point. Loading the suitcases into the car. Monty driving us to the airport and telling us how to differentiate between pine, fir and spruce needles. (I still don’t know the difference between fir and spruce.) Sitting, our bags gone, just before security, with Grandma and Aunts. Grandma handing out Tim-Tams, eating mine and knowing as I ate it that it would be my last for a very long time. Hugs. Adults crying. Walking to the gate, taking one last look back. The security guard trying to pronounce Dara’s first name, and actually doing a decent job of it.

And then taking off and looking back, one last look at Sydney, at the East Coast, at Australia. MY HOME.

Then — turbulence and fear and crying but not from sadness.

And after that interminable boredom. Numbness I wouldn’t shake for over a decade.

Landing in Vancouver with a blur of grey and green (pine? fir? spruce?) and black runway. Thrill. Excitement! We’ve landed in Canada.
And exhaustion.

Another flight, and then beautiful green and yellow patchwork over the province I’m going to live in. Home? That word will never mean what it used to.

 

II.
I messaged a friend, and she asked me what I love most about Australia. 
I can’t tell you what I love most, but I can say some things I do love.

I love the wild parrots. I love the jacaranda trees and the big fat cicadas and the way we say cicAHda (instead of the North American cicayda). I love the casuarina trees and the beaches and hot Christmases. I love Tim Tams and Shapes crackers and the Berry doughnut van. I love the flat creeping grass, and the salt air and the national parks and the way that Australians care for the environment in ways that Canadians are just starting to think about. I love that people work to live instead of living to work. I love my Grandma, and walking barefoot to the beach, and picking pig face fruit from beside the road. I love looking for shells and the flags that the surf livesavers put up to keep swimmers safe even though I’m honestly probably going to be building sandcastles. I love freesias and tree ferns and fairy wrens. I love books by Jackie French and words like “spanner”. I love the streets designed to be walkable. I love the escarpment and the river full of jellyfish, and gumnuts, and creeks stained brown with tea tree bushes. And I love how the clouds hang low, so different from the high-up Alberta clouds (which I also love).

And I love Christmas beetles. And ripe mangoes.

 

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