It’s March 28th tomorrow. Just a regular date in the diary eh?
Sure, some may celebrate the birthdays of actor Vince Vaughan, ex-cricketer Nasser Hussain or all round loon Lady Gaga, not to mention Teachers Day in Czech Republic and Slovakia or Serf’s Emancipation Day in Tibet, but for most it is a pretty ordinary date.
Not for me though because March 28th 2013 marks the first anniversary of the day I bade a fond farewell to Australia.
It also marks – thanks to a combination of time differences, a very early start and a very direct flight – the first anniversary of me touching down back in England, physically weary, emotionally drained, but full of anticipation.
One chapter ends and another one begins.
I have mentioned this impending date to a few people recently and they generally have a similar question to pose (after they’ve asked the inevitable “I bet you miss the weather”) and that question goes along the lines of “Does it seem like you’ve been gone for a year?”.
Normally when I’m asked that type of question about anything ranging from the time since we last met up, to the time since starting a new job, to the time since a child was born, my answer is typically along the lines of “…it seems like only yesterday…”
(I should add that this response is usually delivered in an incredulous voice as if to question the accuracy of the very passage of time itself)
But this occasion is different. I really do feel as if I have been away from Australia for a long time.
I have witnessed one complete cycle of the seasons – from an unseasonably warm March 2012, through the glorious Olympic summer and the golden autumn of last year to the frosts of winter and on again to an unseasonably chilly March 2013.
I have packed a lot into the last 12 months, what with relocating, setting up a new home (and indeed a whole new life), becoming a father again and starting a new job.
I’ve caught up with old friends and made new ones. I’ve seen my kids settle in to new schools and my wife become integrated into a whole network of local communities.
I’ve got to spend time with my family. Relaxed, spontaneous time, rather than the rushed “when will I see you again” moments of previous holidays back in the UK.
I’ve been out and about a lot, experiencing the beautiful English countryside that I now realise I had missed a lot more than I thought.
All up, I have done loads. Indeed, sometimes I scroll through the photos I have taken on my phone over the last year to remind myself of just how much I have done.
Hey, I’ve even managed to write 93 blog posts along the way.
When I think back to my life in Sydney it somehow seems a long way away and a long time ago. In fact, it almost seems as if it was the life of another person. It’s hard to believe it was me and that I lived there for so long. And now I don’t.
I stay in regular touch with events down under in terms of general news (Gillard still in trouble, with Rudd lurking eh? – no change there then), sporting news (Roosters looking a bit better?) and news of my many Aussie friends, posting endless photos of beaches and outdoor dining on social media as I rug up and tuck into yet another nourishing soup.
I’m sure a fair amount has moved on in Australia in the last year too, but from afar, it does give the reassuring impression of permanence and stability, thus giving my own life-changing adventures an extra frisson of daring.
Parts of my old Australian self do still crop up – I wrote a document with $$ signs in it yesterday and then asked for the ‘white out’ to correct something else (Tip-ex, in case you wondered) – but the longer I am back here, the less frequent these little foibles become.
One year on, I feel settled and comfortable ‘Back home’. I retain many golden memories of my past in Sydney and have many exciting things to look forward to in the future.
But for now, I’m just enjoying living in the moment – appreciating all the opportunities that the move has given me to reinvent my life over the last 12 months.
If I get asked ‘that’ question tomorrow, I know what I’ll be saying – “Yes it does feel like a year…and what a year it has been too”.
My main challenge however is “how do I possibly follow it up over the next 12 months?”
I guess you’ll have to check back here on March 28th 2014 and I’ll let you know.