Today is a special day – after 13 years in Australia we have applied for citizenship and today is our interview and test! I feel like I am about to sit the test for my learner’s permit where everyone assures you it is so easy – and yet people fail all the time*. I have read the book twice and feel comfortable thanks to the blessing that is multiple choice. Please don’t ask me to remember that the First Fleet arrived in 1788 though***…or that the first Governor of NSW was Captain Arthur Phillip. If I can have a few of those questions on free speech and “what is a referendum” I might just pass.
I am grateful today for living here in Australia – neutral territory! That is how my husband and I think of it. Seventeen years ago we each visited the other’s hometown (and in my case temporarily settled there) and declared it “not for me”. Now some of you would be shocked that someone could reject my darling NYC, but compared to English towns it can be way too much of a contrast. Great to visit, but impossible for him to see raising children there. I think what sealed its fate was the visit one Christmas when in the same week he watched someone smoking a crack pipe on the subway and experienced someone stealing the decorated Christmas tree from my mother’s apartment building lobby – just ripped the plug from the wall and took the whole tree. Now that was not something that would happen in most other parts of the world.
So thanks to a job transfer from Asia to Australia we finally found a home we could settle in together and have a family. As much as we hate being so far away from our families and friends we have truly settled now and find our feet more firmly planted every day. I feel this year has been our best yet and it is only half over.
I am grateful for the climate that allows us to be enjoying the outdoors all year round. I am grateful for the focus on a quality life that sees people work hard but play hard as well. People take their owed holiday time and enjoy it with gusto and then take even more if allowed… Long service leave let us take the girls to Europe for 3 months in 2010 to see family and friends in five countries.
I am grateful for living in such a rich country – in terms of culture, beauty, diversity, fresh and beautiful food, amazing wildlife and natural landmarks and more. We walk out our door or drive a short distance and we can do everything from the beach to the mountains and everything in between. We think nothing of driving 1000km for a little getaway or 4 hours round-trip for a day out. People here are always hitting the road and taking it in.
I am grateful that my mother had her own dream of coming to Australia that led her to plant the idea in my head from childhood. I did not realize until I was an adult that the reason I always felt so drawn to this country was that she brought it into my life in small ways until I absorbed her dream as my own. As soon as the opportunity arose to come to Australia we did not hesitate – it felt right. We had no idea if we would be here for a year (hubby’s project was in support of the Sydney Olympics) or indefinitely and lived moment by moment until one day we realised we were not going anywhere. We had two children, born in Sydney, and put in for permanent residency. Now years later I feel like we are firmly planting our roots as we pledge our loyalty to Australia and I finally learn all the words to Advance Australia Fair (will come in handy at school assemblies and I can stop mumbling my way through it).
So here’s to lamingtons, vegemite, a great aussie pie, shiraz, sauv blanc and sand in your eye!**
What are you grateful for this week?
Find your simple,
* I probably should have waited to write this post and express my gratitude until AFTER I am sure I passed the test.
** Totally random ode to Australia – had to be done.
*** Edited to add – of course this was on the test and thanks to making a fuss about it I remembered the date and got it right!
Linking up with Bron and Kidspot for 52 weeks of grateful assuming Bron is feeling better – either way check out Village Voices!.