Busytown by Jolisa Gracewood

Read Post

Busytown: Sons for the Return Home

258 Responses

First ←Older Page 1 2 3 4 5 11 Newer→ Last

  • BenWilson, in reply to Ross Mason,

    On slotting back in, I think that your memories of being abroad should not be suppressed or forgotten, in the desire to fit in. You are the the sum of your life to date. Certainly, people will not be anywhere near as interested in it as you are, but that actually goes for everyone anyway. I guess the thing to remember is that the experience itself is not of interest to people unless it is told well, or relevantly, and that goes no matter what you've done with your life.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8737 posts Report Reply

  • Tamsin6,

    Well, sort of. “Moving back to New Zealand” is not exactly the same thing as “going home,” is it?

    Very much identify with every single thing in this post. But I'm still so, so envious. A friend has just moved back home with her two children, and eldest daughter was already in the swing of the barefoot to school thing on her first day.

    Hope all your moving goes well, and wishing like crazy that one day it will be me wondering how to negotiate the time-slippage.

    London • Since Dec 2007 • 124 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Campbell,

    I've said this here before - "home" is a funny thing, it's often where you're not - for years after we moved back "home" was Oakland, now it's caught up with us and is Dunedin

    As far as detecting accents, I'm quite screwed as far as Kiwi vs. US is concerned, can't hear my kids accents though I know they have them, and of course can't hear my own - I have a US accent in NZ, even after so long back, and a somewhere-maybe-british accent in the US - there's nowhere on the planet I don't have an accent

    When we first came back, about a week before my daughter started school (1st form, ie 11), she came to us, she'd decided she needed to get rid of her accent before she started school so she would fit in - we had to explain, and assured her that her accent would help her stand out and find friends - in the end it was a non-issue

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 2201 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Paul Campbell,

    I have a US accent in NZ, even after so long back, and a somewhere-maybe-british accent in the US - there's nowhere on the planet I don't have an accent

    I think of it as the "international accent". Hordes of children have this, even without leaving home now, but it used to be the sound of children of ambassadors and diplomats and other semi permanent ex-pats.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8737 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Campbell,

    well mine's (apparently) obviously a US one .... people make strange assumptions about my politics, morals, religion, etc based on it

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 2201 posts Report Reply

  • Christopher Dempsey,

    For me coming back to NZ, the weirdest and unexpectedest thing was to feel homesick, when I’d supposedly come home. That left me in a transient grey space for at least 2 years.

    Moving back after 6 years away was a shock. I was in a very awful and weird headspace for two years.

    I guess the advice I’d give is to think of it not as “returning home”, but rather moving to a totally new country that you’ve never lived before. Eventually, though, you’ll wake up one day and it will feel like home again.

    And if someone had told me that in that two years I would have hugged them. The dissonance between the 'home' of the mind and the 'home' of the real world Aotearoa NZ was just something weird.

    One piece of advice – allow yourselves a year (at least) to get used to being back in NZ. Stranger in a strange land and all that.

    Two at a minimum. And the feelings you feel will be entirely and wholly natural so go with them.

    Parnell / Tamaki-Auckland… • Since Sep 2008 • 642 posts Report Reply

  • George Darroch,

    I'll be the one to say that I don't identify with much of this. Well, perhaps having a small number of things that are precious to you. I don't know if it's age - I am young, after all. For the last few years I've lived under the 20kg weight limit (and that includes climbing gear and a 50m rope...). I knocked my possessions down to less than 50 things last year. Of course, if I had a spouse and children, the calculus would be different, but I'm not sure how much.

    My own parents lived from a van during the 1970s, a single suitcase in Hong Kong during the early 80s, and an entire family in a four door Cortina with a trailer during the early 90s. (We also lived in houses, and accumulated things too, of course). It may simply be culturally inculcated.

    I've been taking cues from Sterling's last Viridian note (adapted and adjusted elsewhere):

    ..divide your current possessions into four major categories.

    Beautiful things.
    Emotionally important things.
    Tools, devices, and appliances that efficiently perform a useful function.
    Everything else.

    It may be too much for some, but as a guideline, I think it works rather well.

    Roots are strong, people are important, but things are transient.

    The People's Republic of … • Since Nov 2006 • 2137 posts Report Reply

  • George Darroch,

    And if someone had told me that in that two years I would have hugged them. The dissonance between the ‘home’ of the mind and the ‘home’ of the real world Aotearoa NZ was just something weird.

    Yeah, I've been back seven months after four years away. I feel disloyal for not feeling more comfortable here (though I have no intention of being the complaining ex-expat). Not everything is difficult - some things are very easy. Others aren't.

    The People's Republic of … • Since Nov 2006 • 2137 posts Report Reply

  • FletcherB,

    I believe garden tools may require steam cleaning to satisfy MAF? (professionally done with a certificate or receipt to prove it, probably).

    Worth the effort if they are quality items, but not if they are just cheapies from the local bargain house...

    West Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 801 posts Report Reply

  • Danielle, in reply to Paul Campbell,

    Yes, perhaps one bit of advice could be"warn your kids that people will say dumb shit to them based on what appears to be an in-depth sociological study of random episodes of COPS and American Idol".

    Charo World. Cuchi-cuchi!… • Since Nov 2006 • 3669 posts Report Reply

  • Jolisa,

    Wow - this is why I shouldn't post just before I clock off for the night. And yet, it is exactly why I should post just before I clock off. Fantastic, honest feedback along every possible dimension. You guys are amazing.

    Paul, I was counting on you to show up and tell me how it's done, right down to the Christmas ornament tip. You should write a book. Actually, we should write a book, or go into the resettlement advice business as per Sue's suggestion. (And ten years, really?? That went fast!)

    Stuff-wise, my inclination is to bring everything (what we don't use we can sell at the other end, right?), but my fantasy is always to just travel, monk-like, with a pair of sandals and a begging bowl (or like Spike Milligan, with a toothbrush and a credit card). Somewhere in between is probably how it'll happen.

    I wish I could bring that part of the doorframe, but it'd be a tricky thing to match and patch in a historic house. Plus, we're just one layer of history on this old house. But good advice for the record, for anyone else contemplating it: take the doorframe, take a photo, or start out with something more portable in the first place, like a bespoke yardstick.

    Am telling myself that the real yardstick is the boys themselves, and they're all the evidence I need that growth has happened :-) I just can't shake the weird feeling that leaving here will also mean leaving the ghost of their respective childhoods behind, y'know? But by that token, my own child-ghost is still roaming the hills of the Hutt Valley, and I'm OK with that.

    Again, thank you all for weighing in - will assimilate it and respond more later. The first of many farewell dinners is about to be served!

    Auckland, NZ • Since Nov 2006 • 1431 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to George Darroch,

    My own parents lived from a van during the 1970s, a single suitcase in Hong Kong during the early 80s, and an entire family in a four door Cortina with a trailer during the early 90s. (We also lived in houses, and accumulated things too, of course). It may simply be culturally inculcated.

    So you're a gypsy and your home is the road?

    Joseph Conrad had an interesting insight into sailors in Heart of Darkness. He said they were the biggest home-bodies of all, so much so that they took their home with them everywhere they went.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8737 posts Report Reply

  • Rich Lock,

    if I had a spouse and children, the calculus would be different, but I'm not sure how much.

    It's an entire new equation. You have been warned :)

    back in the mother countr… • Since Feb 2007 • 2401 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to Jolisa,

    I wish I could bring that part of the doorframe, but it’d be a tricky thing to match and patch in a historic house.

    I figured that might be an issue - but just for interests sake find a local cabinet maker (NOT a builder) and ask how much it would cost - it may be stupidly expensive - but it may not and it's always worth talking to a good cabinet maker, they're interesting.

    On fitting back into New Zealand - the hardest part for me was adapting to the changes in our circle of friends - we knew some had got married and some had broken up, but it was seeing one (married) friend snogging another friend's husband that really threw me for a loop. I expected relationships to have changed but not values, in hindsight people's values change all the time so I shouldn't have been surprised.

    Nevertheless I discovered old enemies had become interesting people and eventually fast friends and discovered some folks who used to be fun to talk to were now boring and vice versa. Of course as many of those changes were in fact changes in me. But it took time to adapt and I had to remain flexible and not assume that things would be the same as it ever was.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3472 posts Report Reply

  • recordari,

    Ever since reading your post I can't get the Diddy earworm out of my head. Fortunately, I like that song. Weird, eh?

    As for schools not being overly enthusiastic about adopting the standards, the one our three go to in Sandringham is holding out pretty well. But, there is news of considerable pressure being applied to recalcitrant schools. There does seem to be a number of principals willing to stretch the limits of the offside line to the maximum though.

    AUCKLAND • Since Dec 2009 • 2607 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to George Darroch,

    Roots are strong, people are important, but things are transient

    Gold

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16996 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Paul Campbell,

    people make strange assumptions about my politics, morals, religion, etc

    the downside of decades of successful pop cultural imperialism

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16996 posts Report Reply

  • George Darroch,

    the downside of decades of successful pop cultural imperialism

    It's gone beyond that, and become a bad habit, a perpetual laziness reached into to justify New Zealand and make people feel better about their own inadequacies.

    The People's Republic of … • Since Nov 2006 • 2137 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to George Darroch,

    Do you see a difference in the way we do that with the US rather than all manner of other nations we've seen less from? I imagine Belgians and Indonesians get less shit.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16996 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Campbell, in reply to Jolisa,

    Paul, I was counting on you to show up and tell me how it's done, right down to the Christmas ornament tip. You should write a book. Actually, we should write a book, or go into the resettlement advice business as per Sue's suggestion. (And ten years, really?? That went fast!)

    Well 7 years - close enough to 10 at this point

    I really looked for on-line advice and help when we came back, dealing with the NZ consulate was a real disaster - especially for my wife's visa (turned out we could just turn back on her 20 year defunct residency - it never occurred to us that that was an option). We still ended up camping out side the DC consulate for a day to get everything settled once we were on our way

    I even went into the local NZ Immigration dept office in Dunedin asking if they had any giveaways for new immigrants,m stuff like "how to enroll your kid in school", "how to find and sign up with a doctor" ... stuff you hadn't done as a student but now you have kids you suddenly have to do - I walked away empty handed.

    How about a web site somewhere with hints and tips (and stories)?

    I wish I could bring that part of the doorframe, but it'd be a tricky thing to match and patch in a historic house. Plus, we're just one layer of history on this old house. But good advice for the record, for anyone else contemplating it: take the doorframe, take a photo, or start out with something more portable in the first place, like a bespoke yardstick.

    For those starting out in the kid business - let me repeat my suggestion above - people move, all the time - grab a piece of wood a couple of metres long, paint it in bright colours - use that - we had friends decorate one for each of our kids at their baby showers, one has an arrow "grow this way" painted at one end - now that they've stopped growing we really need to take that one last measurement of both of them

    I just can't shake the weird feeling that leaving here will also mean leaving the ghost of their respective childhoods behind, y'know?

    we worried about something like that - the kids have kept in touch with their friends (facebook in particular) as they head of to college, and I think that's what matters - we're going to go back "home" for xmas this year, I'll take the kids back to the old house and ask the new owners (not the ones we sold to) if the kids can have a look, I bet it looks smaller to them - I remember some teenagers showing up at our door not long after we bought it and we were happy to let them wander - we'll take them to places we took them to as kids.

    Even for us adults places change, Cody's book store isn't there any more on Telegraph, but Berkeley's still full of that wonderful mix of hippy-children, street people, street stalls, street politics etc that I miss in somewhat staid Dunedin

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 2201 posts Report Reply

  • James Butler, in reply to Danielle,

    I wasn't away from NZ long enough to have this problem, but I know my husband does in reverse, having been gone nearly a decade. He will visit his hometown in the USA and every year or two it's mutated irrevocably. People don't live where they used to, or they died, or that thing everyone did - no one does that thing any more.

    Shit, I get that on my visits back to Wellington.

    Auckland • Since Jan 2009 • 801 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Paul Campbell,

    How about a web site somewhere with hints and tips

    The government's Settlement Support service offers some info - and I've seen stories about informal sites set up by people from particular places or industries (like South Africans or nurses).

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16996 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Campbell,

    Thanks Sacha - again more intended for people immigrating rather than those of us moving back.

    One useful thing is this I was looking for something with that curve in it to post above. Lisa was studying psych in the US and came across a different form of it at about the point where I crashed 9 months after we moved to the US - the versions I've seen before last 18 months rather than 2 years (and without all the silly F alliterations) - I think it's a great way to look at the process of moving anywhere new - that crash after the novelty wears off is a whole mess of homesickness - and when you're back on an even keel 18 months later you are "home"

    (for us it was much easier moving back to NZ than moving away)

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 2201 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Paul Campbell,

    more intended for people immigrating rather than those of us moving back

    Doh. Quite. I guess beyond the tips and stories, a 'Resettlement Support' service could have handy tools like being able to choose the date you left and see the major changes (law, politics, places, cultures, etc) since then.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16996 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Campbell,

    it doesn't tell me up front what I really wanted to know at the time:

    - how do I enroll the kids in school? answer: find a school, bowl on up and talk to the principle, no form filling required with the dept of education to explain where this child who's never been on their books before materialised from (take their passport with you) - you can choose any school, some schools may be zoned, mostly high schools

    - how do I choose a doctor? answer: basically the same, choose one, show up, bring your passport - bring a passport if you ever go to casualty, you're accent may trigger much form filling otherwise (did this last week with my son who forgot his)

    other stuff:

    - don't forget to register to vote - it's election year

    - hunt down your IRD number, you'll need it, eventually the kids will too, if you can't find it call them they'll get it for you


    (don't forget to file taxes in both countries - because you're moving from one place to another chances are you'll get a refund in both places - the IRS has a bunch of useful rules that apply if you are leaving the country for more than a year)

    Jolisa - did you take out US citizenship? if not kiss your SS contributions goodbye, unless you move back for a few years when you retire

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 2201 posts Report Reply

First ←Older Page 1 2 3 4 5 11 Newer→ Last

Post your response…

Please sign in using your Public Address credentials…

Login

You may also create an account or retrieve your password.