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Showing posts with label australia. Show all posts
Showing posts with label australia. Show all posts

Saturday, 2 August 2014

My long distance relationship... with my family!

coping with relatives overseas

Like pretty much every other young adult on the planet, I have a complex relationship with ‘home’. Increasing numbers of children are growing up in composite families, and I’ve always been able to joke about being ‘the child of a broken home’. Even my friends whose parents are still together find themselves in a strange between-space as they leave their families and find their way in the world. ‘Home’ doesn’t necessarily feel like ‘home anymore’… But that’s another post for another day. Today I’m going to talk about my long distance relationship with my family.

90s family photo
riverside nostalgia

My mum is Australian, so I’ve always been stretched across the hemispheres of the planet. One of my earliest memories is wishing that there was such a thing as a video phone so that I could see all of these strange family members who wanted to speak to me down the phone once a week. (Obviously this was pre-skype, pre-facetime, and pre-internet in homes!) We went to visit them when I was three – god knows how my mum managed to keep three-year-old Candy occupied on a 24 hour flight… And I was bombarded with affection and love by this army of fast-talking, loud-laughing Australians. I’ve been back to visit them five times since, sometimes for months at a time, and every time I leave, it hurts more.

family reunion sydney
tiny fashionista coffeeshop
port douglas grandparents

When my parents split up, I split my time more-or-less evenly between the two of them. I lived out of my school rucksack from the age of ten, and soon became accustomed to the feeling of always missing someone. When I was at my Dad’s house, I missed my mum and my silly Stepdad, I missed the big sofa, and I missed the endless snacks available for my delectation. When I was at my mum’s house, I missed my Dad’s music, I missed my baby brother and sister, and I missed having someone to chat to, the moment I got back from school. I was always at home, but I was also never at home.

My long distance family story doesn’t stop there. When I was eighteen, my Dad moved to France with my stepmum and my little brother and sister. I had just finished my A-Levels, and I was tentatively preparing to move to Cambridge in the Autumn. Around that time, my Mum decided to spend some time with her family in Australia, and suddenly a natural ‘baby-bird-flies-the-nest’ scenario was out of the question. It was more of a ‘shit-the-nest-blew-away-in-a-storm’ kinda deal. I was essentially an international student, in terms of my living scenario, but I didn’t have any of the special storage allowances afforded to students from overseas. I remember getting a couple of comments in my first term at university about why I had SO MUCH STUFF in my room – in truth, I had ALL my stuff in my room…

These days, my Dad is still in France, and my baby brother and sister are old enough to chat using Skype and FaceTime. My mum lives back in Australia, and battles with the same ‘where is home?’ struggle that I do. My story is far from unique. One of my friends’ parents recently moved back to China after raising her in the UK. Many other friends moved to the UK to go to university, leaving their families behind in Poland, Italy, Spain and all sorts of other places. And whilst Skype and FaceTime make keeping in touch easier than when I was a child, they don’t take away that feeling of displacement that you get from being part of a long-distance family. And don’t get me wrong, when I say family, I don’t just mean those who are related to you by blood. Half of my family isn’t. Blood has nothing to do with the hollow feeling of missing someone you love.

I’m a firm believer in re-imagining the idea of home and making it resonate with you personally. We’re fed this idea of home being a physical space, occupied by blood relatives and where hearty, nostalgic food is readily available. Home is advertised to us as a place that we can always snap back to like an elastic band, even if we stray far away…

Balls to that. What about all of us whose family homes now house other families? What about those whose childhood houses have been bulldozed or redeveloped?

Home doesn’t need to be a physical space at all, and even if we have to keep re-teaching that to ourselves for the rest of our lives, I think it’ll be worth it in the long run.

very young siblings

The photos above are a selection of old photos and newer photos of my family. I don't have photos of everyone, as a lot of my photos are packed away, but I love them all so, so much (in case you didn't notice), and I miss every single one of them more than I could hope to express in words.

Monday, 12 March 2012

This time it'll be different...

With the misguided determination of a relapsed addict, I declare once again that "this time it will be different!" This time, I shall blog faithfully and frequently.
It has been a little less than a year since I blogged using this medium, although I have been almost ceaselessly frequenting tumblr for the past year.
For those among you who do not feel that they have the stamina or interest to trawl through my many inconsequential posts on tumblr, I shall give you a rundown of what's been occurring.
So I saw some chumlets from the interwebs, and we had a jolly time strolling around in Brighton, patronising various tea shops and cafes, and trying on a whole load of vintage clothes. It was glorious fun, although I ought to have been doing my dissertation that day. As it happened, with a lot of help from the wonderful Annis and Mike, I managed to get the bugger in on time, and actually earn the highest mark of my whole university degree for it, so that's bon.

I spent the following month revising, posing with my typewriter, making endless 'flashcards' for myself, crying onto the flashcards, throwing things at walls, singing in the choir, making endless trips down and up 'the hill' for provisions, and feeling the finality of everything in a very profound way.

I went to my first ever proper 'protest'. It was the London Slutwalk (link to the Wikipedia - I would link to the organisation's page but it is down at the moment, and I don't know how temporary that is) with Emma. We had a really nice time, and it was very interesting to see all the people there and what the message of Slutwalk meant to them.

When we had all finished our exams, we spent our time working our way through a 'bucket list' we'd made of all of the things we'd always wanted to do whilst we were at Cambridge but never got the chance to experience. We went to a bunch of museums such as the Whipple Museum and the Fitzwilliam Museum (I'd actually recommend the former rather than the latter for a fun and surreal museum experience!)
Other things on our Cambridge bucket-list were:
*Kebabs from Cambridge's most quintessential kebab emporium, "Gardies" (The Gardenia).
*Erotic Jelly Thumb-wars
*Tea party picnic.
*Punt and barbecue picnic.
*Cheese and Port party...
As you may have guessed, we had all grown rather hungry by the end of the exam period...
Then we all graduated. Here is the first picture of me with both of my parents since I was about... maybe 7 years old. It looks weird to see a picture of me flanked by them, I feel like the middle of a Venn diagram. I guess that must be what it is like for people whose parents are together. That or they just don't think about it. Anyway, graduation was a really surreal experience all 'round really. One of the highlights of the day was wearing a bow tie despite it being against regulation grad-wear for females. Sticking it to the man, yo'!
The first part of the summer was spent finding Dan a job, and finding us somewhere to live in London. This all seemed to come together within days of us leaving for Australia.

Here I am strolling along the beach in Sydney. In the background you can see the city skyline. It seems like a lifetime ago that we were there, and whilst it was a beautiful and magical holiday, I always get ill for at least a week when I am there, and the last two times I've been have also been massively transitional times in my life which has made it difficult. That said, I miss being there so much when I am here. Can you believe that this picture was taken in the middle of winter!?Two days after arriving back in the UK, we had hired a van, loaded it with all of our stuff, and driven to our new flat with it. Neither of us could quite remember how the flat looked and so seeing it again for the first time was really exciting.

I feel like saying, we lived happily ever after, but in truth, living in London has been hard work. Winter has been especially draining, but hopefully things are starting to look up now, with the arrival of the sun. I intend to blog more frequently henceforth... I say this every time. Let's see how it pans out this time!

Monday, 22 September 2008

The Summer.

Well, this erratic blogger is currently in Australia!

The summer has been... eventful, to say the least! I did my exams. Some were harder than others, and that showed in my results. But all in all, I got three As! Hurrah! I am going to Cambridge!

I went to Italy with my Orchestra for a week, and we also played in exotic Birmingham.



I also went to France to see my Dad and I spent two weeks there. It seemed to fly by to be honest. My sister was on her way to taking her first steps, and my brother was... cheeky as ever! I went on bicycle rides in rural France, and did all sorts of picturesque French things...

So, results day was emotional, and the day after, even more so.

I did manage to watch a film called 'Penelope' though, which I can't work out. Is it a new film? Has it been out for a while? Christina Ricci looked really young, but Reese Witherspoon looked the way she looks now... Anyway, it was a lovely whimsical film, and it had James McAvoy in it, which I would never complain about. I also made friends with a lovely woman, whose name I forget. I don't think I will ever forget her though. It wasn't as though she was particularly remarkable, but we had a bit in common, and she was very friendly. We both wept when we saw the Australian sunrise from the aeroplane window...

Since I have been here, I have swam with sea turtles on the Coral Ree
f in Queensland, walked over the Harbour Bridge in Sydney, seen the chimney in Port Kembla, touched various animals, got a new watch, got some sunburn, broken a lamp, and cut my foot, and eaten a LOT of Thai food!


So, I am home in a week, safely in the arms of my loved ones. But I am also, orphaned in my own country. My mother has just flown out to Australia for at least ten weeks, and my Dad has moved to France...

But I suppose I am going to Cambridge, so I shouldn't complain! I don't know what to expect! I am so excited but so... nervous. Stepping into the unknown! Gosh.

Well, here ends another post from possibly the most irregular blogger ever...