The grass really is greener

There are so many things I love about Adelaide and Australia: some IRL friends I’ve made here, singing, the warmth of summer, the Central Markets, aubergines and mangoes (both available in NZ, but expensively so), Kangaroo Island honey, which really is rather special, my kitchen, our beautiful home, the generosity and support from some colleagues here, two in particular, the excellent public school our daughters attend, the robustness of Australian politics, Julia Gillard.

I will miss all of these things when we return home at the end of this year.

That’s right. We’re coming home.

Despite all the good things about Adelaide, I’ve been quite unhappy during the time we have been here, because I have been incorrigibly homesick. I have missed my family and my long-known friends, and I have missed the greens and blues and trees and birds and hills of home. I’ve missed kumera and manuka honey – both obtainable here, but expensively so – and Jersey Benne potatoes. I’ve missed being pākehā, and I’ve missed the cadence of te reo Māori. Aotearoa-New Zealand is in my bones.

As for exactly where we are going to… if I say that it’s not a main centre, and we will both be working at what I shall call Greenhills University (following HarvestBird’s exemplary soubriquet for Concrete University), does that give you enough to go on? I guarantee that none of you save those already in the know will be able to guess what I will be lecturing in.

One of the greatest delights of Australia for me has been the on-line community I found here, of wise and witty and feisty women. And some men, of course. I was thrilled to be invited to join the team at Larvatus Prodeo, and I hope to continue to blog for them from time to time, letting West Islanders know what’s going on in New Zealand. I hope that my on-line community here will come home with me, as my New Zealand community came to Adelaide. I shall miss meeting up with some of these wonderful women in real life, as has happened from time to time, but there are wonderful women and men to meet up with at home too, some of whom I have met already, others of whom I hope to meet for the first time (also one, two, three, four, and no doubt many more). I’m also hoping to rejoin my book group, albeit with a little bit of travel involved for me, and to see more of a beautiful group of women I used to meet for dinner every now and then. I shall miss singing duets with my friend Melissa, but at home, my friend Helen is a wonderful soprano, and we have songs to sing together.

We’ve told our girls that we will be moving, and they are both saddened and excited: sad about losing friends they have made here, but pleased to be moving closer to their beloved grandparents. We have tried to explain to them that it is possible to be both sad and happy at the same time, and that feeling glad to be back in New Zealand does not reduce the sadness of leaving Adelaide.

Lead times in academic jobs are quite long, commonly stretching to six months or even more. So we will be here enjoying Adelaide for some time yet. All going well, we will leave after the school year has finished, but in time to be home for Christmas.

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44 responses to “The grass really is greener

  1. Oh! I’m sad in a kind of ‘well that makes it even less likely I’ll meet you now!’ way, but glad that you’ve come to a decision that you’re happy with. I’m glad, too, that the university job market has been reasonably kind to you both, and that the younger members of the family are on board.

    Moving is always hard, though, so I’m sending you strength.

  2. You convey so well the bittersweet mix of emotions around this, but you sound content, so I am happy for you. :-)

  3. Well, damn. But I’m so pleased for you that you can go home, and have been able to arrange something so complicated. What a feat, both of you scoring jobs in the same place. Fabulous. If I unexpectedly come into some money, I’ll buy your house.

    Never thought of myself as a West Islander before, but it’s a lovely idea.

  4. How exciting for you and your family! I can only imagine how much you will miss your brand new kitchen (as well as friends, of course), but surely family and old friends and exciting new jobs give you lots to look forward to.

    I wish you all the best with the move.

  5. I’m so happy for you I’ve actually got goosebumps and am a bit teary.

    But I’m a teensy bit sad for myself…I was looking forward to having another coffee or two with you when I got home again.

  6. Hoorah! I am genuinely thrilled because now we can have conversations that are longer than a couple of hours, and not interrupted by people needing to go places.

  7. Best news I’ve had today.

    I am thrilled for you. (and sad for your friends over there.) (and thrilled for me.)

  8. How lovely for New Zealand in general and your family and friends in particular that you’re all coming home.

    Thanks for including me in links to people you’d like to meet – the feeling is mutual.

  9. thats awesome that you are coming home, and sad that you are leaving the life you have built in Aussie…

    Amazing that you have both found jobs in one place. I hope that its a great success for you both, and I might get to meet you too…

  10. I think this strange land will be the poorer for your leaving. Don’t worry about us… We’ll be okay…. Ironically we are more likely to see you in NZ than here. Happy trails and here’s to a melodic dawn chorus instead of the morning skreech that we get here.
    Brother also in a strange land.

  11. I’m so happy that you’ve made your decision and know the happy/sad feeling of leaving somewhere. Just remember home will feel a bit weird as well.

  12. Sad to see you go, Deborah, but be sure that I’ll keep reading your blog wherever you’re writing it from!

  13. When you’ve lived in another country, a piece of your heart is always left there.

    Here’s hoping I’ll yet get the chance to make you a Devonshire tea accessorised with fabulous heart-stopping Taranaki cream.

    Just put those glittery red shoes on and start chanting….

  14. Wow, that brought tears to my eyes. I feel like bursting into Dave Dobbyn!

  15. I feel very sad that you are going, which is completely illogical, because of course I visit the city of the Greenhills campus every year to see family, so will be able to see you more often than if you were still in Adelaide. Maybe I’m sad because you are returning and I am not? I must ponder that.

    I’m glad for you that you are going back – and to a job! Wonderful. And the city of the Greenhills campus is convenient for both Taranaki and Wellington.

    Ka kite ano…

  16. Selfishly, I am really happy you are moving back. Good luck with all the intricacies of moving, I hope it goes as well as possible for you all, and I’m sure that you will be able to keep many of your Adelaidean friends in your life in inventive ways.

  17. Well I will just have to make an effort to meet you next time we visit rellies in NZ. Or if the worst happens and Tony gets in I might just be calling for advice on where to look for accommodation. I’m guessing if Greenhills is nearish Wellington then that’s generally where we’d be headed anyway. But I hope we come just for a visit.

  18. I look forward to your return and our meeting.

  19. congratulations on the new job(s). count me as one of those who are really happy that you’re coming back here, and also looking forward to meeting up with you some time in the new year.

  20. Be great to have you back.

  21. Look forward to gazing in growing incomprehension at Aussie blogs you used to follow regularly. Strange but true…

  22. Will you still be writing sharp-eyed critiques of Aussie un-journalism?

  23. Are you going to change the name of your blog? You’ll have to start practusing your new zuland accunt again..

  24. Two ticks for us – getting you back, and getting across to sponge off your hospitality before you return.

  25. Damn indeed. I have some very powerful regrets in leaving Adelaide. Forgoing an IRL connection with you is one of them.

  26. I thought this might resonate a little with you, TC. And as I said to PC, one of my big regrets in leaving is that I almost certainly won’t get to meet up for a coffee or two again. Unless you’re visiting before the end of the year?

  27. Just so. It will be so much easier to get to Akl, and of course, should you ever be passing through Greenhills University town, or coming to visit, then there is always space for you at our place. Plus wine. Plus gossip. Plus long walks. Plus more wine and good food.

  28. I have this little secret squirming of delight, thinking that I might get to meet you. Sooon! I’m planning on inveigling you up for a weekend. Or coming down to see you. It’s only a couple of hours on the train.

  29. Hopefully sometime when you’re up north, HP, or I’m down south. There must surely be a conference at Otago that I need to go to, with a small side trip to Oamaru and its hinterland.

  30. Given where we are moving to, D, my guess is that we should be able to meet up in January next year. At the library maybe, for starters, or at my place, assuming we find one…

  31. Yes! That would be wonderful. Let’s start plotting, just as soon as we are settled.

  32. I know! I figured our paths might cross more frequently back in NZ than they ever would here, even with you living here and me living there.

  33. It is nearish to Wellington, and conveniently more-or-less en route to various other places. So we are always good for a break in your journey.

  34. I might shift my focus to a more local paper, which I’m guessing will give me plenty of scope.

  35. I’m happy to receive seemly suggestions for names for a new blog, to coincide with the move.

  36. Yes… ‘though I still follow more NZ blogs than Aussie ones. I’m guessing that I will keep up with the feminist blogs, and maybe one or two of the bigger Aussie ones, and that might be about it.

    Also the women of wit and wisdom, but that’s a different matter.

  37. It will be a very, very small return for all the times we’ve stayed with you.

  38. Thank you for the lovely comments. I’ve become increasingly aware that even though I am longing to be home, I will have some very strong regrets about leaving Adelaide. Perhaps if we’d stayed here 11 years ago (we lived here for about 10 months just before the end of the 20th century) instead of moving on, we would have become enculturated, and much more easily so. I do know that if it all falls over (exceedingly unlikely, but one never knows for sure), then although I would be sad, I would also know that on balance, things would be fine, and there would be many good things in my life.

    All the same, I am very glad to be coming home.

  39. that sounds fantastic. And so great you have both found something in the same place. I’ll miss your writing about Australian politics, but I’m sure I’ll love your writing as much as ever.

  40. If I visit Adelaide in the next few months, I’ll be sure to say hi! I was planning to be there in July on academic business, but that hasn’t eventuated. Otherwise, I hope I catch you in NZ!

  41. Deborah – lovely news, though I understand the mixed emotions. How fabulous that both the Strangelands got jobs in the same place.

    The internet has made the world a much smaller place so I’m sure that you will be able to maintain the many friendships that you have made.

    My hope for you and your family is that you find somewhere lovely to live, perhaps with a kitchen worthy of the one that you are leaving.

  42. Oh, I don’t know why I feel sad about this, because we haven’t met in real life (yet).. but I do feel a little sad. Also, very happy for you. Good for you.

  43. *blush* I’m just getting to this now as I’ve been out of town, so pardon the late comment, please.

    Of course your online community here will be following you!! I also feel kind of sad, somehow; it’s been lovely to share a country with you even though we’ve not met. But I know how you’ve missed New Zealand so I’m more pleased for you and the family than anything! Goodness me, I am so pleased this has all worked out and so well! I shall have to make my way to New Zealand at some point…

    Also: I always think of you when I have manuka honey. :)