September is almost over. This time next year, I hope to be living in the country of my birth, Australia.
After nine years as an expat, I no longer want my possessions to be split between homes on opposite sides of the globe. I want to find my pate knife with the ceramic Christmas tree handle when I look for it, instead of wasting ten minutes searching before I remember it is part of my Australian home, 16,965 kms (or 10,542 miles) away.
More importantly, I want to be able to give my children hugs on their birthdays. I want to celebrte Christmases with them in person. I want to be physically nearer my extended family and those friends I’ve known for years. I will miss my American and Scottish friends, but it will be fun to visit them.
This blog is about repatriation, but let me begin by telling you where my expatriate life began. It may never have happened if I hadn’t visited a clairvoyant.
Yep, you heard right, I went to a psychic!
What possessed me to visit a psychic?
About ten months before we left Australia, and six months prior to any thoughts of moving to another country flitted across my mind, I dreamt I should visit a medium.
I take my dreams relatively seriously, but there was no sense of urgency, so the memory of the dream lingered with the intention to find a medium when I had time. Many months later, my daughter told me about a clairvoyant one of her friends vouched for. Not a medium, but near enough to keep me happy.
By the time I visited her, Tony (my husband) had applied for the job in Florida, but I didn’t expect him to get the position, and if he did, I wasn’t convinced I’d join him.
On the day of my appointment, I happily knocked on the clairvoyant’s door with a hand devoid of rings. I was determined not to give her any clues about myself, convinced she’d assume I was a miserable and lonely, old woman. I expected her to tell me I would meet a tall dark stranger.
She asked me if I had any specific questions. I told her about my dream and explained it was the only reason I was there.
I said nothing else. She began slapping Tarot cards on the table.
No, she didn’t have a crystal ball. :-(
Within seconds, she said,
“Whoa, you have so many changes ahead. New home, new furniture, new place, new job. Amazing, a whole new life.”
Somehow, she’d read my mind, picking up on all the furniture purchases I’d made, along with the renovating and painting I’d completed in the previous two months. I was impressed, but I didn’t have a new job and there was no way I was going to begin one. I loved my work with a passion.
As my allotted hour continued, she told me more, much more. I barely spoke to her, just listened as she mentioned my children and the cancer diagnosis of two of my close friends, giving details about both. She never questioned my marital status, it was a given I had a husband.
By the time she told me I’d be reluctant to make this big move in my future, I was convinced of her authenticity.
Then she added the words that sealed my fate.
“This change is going to be extremely good for you in so many ways; just wonderful. Don’t resist it, go with the flow.”
I did, and she was right.
Living life as an expat is a fantastic adventure, but my spirit never belonged to another country. On each visit to Australia, Peter Allen’s song, I Still Call Australia Home, and the words of Dorothea McKellar’s poem, My Country, filled the empty nooks in my mind. Now that resettling is uppermost in my thoughts, the second verse of My Country keeps repeating in my head; reason enough, methinks, to revisit the complete poem in this blog - a verse a month.
Way back, a looong time ago, when I was in primary school, everyone had to learn this poem, which is probably why I still remember segments of it. My classmate’s childish voices chanting the words, “I love a sunburnt country” are locked into my brain at a deep level, but I’d forgotten this first verse:
My Country, by Dorothea McKellar.
The love of field and coppice,
Of green and shaded lanes.
Of ordered woods and gardens
Is running in your veins,
Strong love of grey-blue distance
Brown streams and soft dim skies
I know but cannot share it,
My love is otherwise.
Photo taken from The Burns Museum gardens, Scotland.
I am fond of this green land, but it is the next verse of McKellar’s poem that resonates with me. (Read it in next month’s blog! Or listen below.)
I was amazed to learn that Dorothea Mckellar began writing this when she was nineteen, living in London and homesick. I know how that feels.
Do you have poems or songs that remind you of home, wherever that may be? I’d like to hear about them, whether you’re an expat or not.
Below is a YouTube link of McKellar reading her own words. The images are wonderful, including the odd fun shot, an example of Australian larrikinism. Enjoy: