Living a Double Life

I realized I was in trouble when I found myself sobbing in the restaurant. It had almost happened earlier that day at the hairdressers, when I’d gone for the last haircut. As I gave my hairdresser a quick kiss goodbye I tried my usual goodbye trick with a chirpy “see you next time” but I didn’t pull it off, my voice changed mid sentence and the cracks appeared. I made a quick exit and attempted to inconspicuously wipe away the tears on the walk back to the car. Deep breaths Kirsty, deep breaths.

I’m not sure why I found it so hard to leave Australia this time. It had been a long break, usually I would have been keen to get the children back to school and back in to a routine, but I wasn’t. I wanted to stay. I wanted to keep walking on the beach, to keep going to the Farmers Market, to keep dropping in to see old friends for a glass on wine on the way home. I wanted to watch my children crawl all over my Father while he tried to watch the Footy. I wanted to hear them talk about Granny and repeat all of her little sayings “now there’s something you don’t see everyday”. 

For the first time in 12 years I began to question what we were doing. I looked at the Little Travellers living their very Australian life and I wondered if they too were about to become victims of my self diagnosed ‘Geographical Schizophrenia’. How would they switch back to their old lives after such a big break? How do you readjust when you’re seven? Am I confusing them by having two homes, two sets of friends, two completely different lives?

As we sat in the restaurant across the road from the Melbourne Airport waiting for our flight to Doha, I listened to the Third Little Traveller talk about our beach house neighbours. “When I grow up I’m going to be just like John, I’m going to be an Engineer and have a moustache”. G and I smiled but I couldn’t help but think about all the people we had all just said goodbye to, about what we might be missing.

“Why are your eyes wet Mummy?” asked the Fourth Little Traveller.
“Too many Goodbyes in one day Darling – nothing serious, I’ll be fine in a minute”

From the moment our plane touched down in Doha I began to remember the other life. Initially I saw everything through a haze, a haze of heat that rose from the Tarmac, it was 6.30 in the morning and already 37 degrees.  Everything was different, it wasn’t just the weather, the language, the taxis or the sun with its desert orange glow. The traffic moved at a different speed, someone stopped next to us at the lights with a camel in the back of their 4 wheel drive “you don’t see that everyday” said the Third Little Traveller, “you do in Doha” said the Fourth. I smiled.

Within two hours of being home I made a quick head count. Four little girls on the computer, four little boys building Lego, four bigger kids squealing as they began planning their next performance. Scottish, South African, Canadian and Australian accents compared their Summer break, someone had been to Florida, someone had been to London, someone had been to Calgary, everyone had been spoilt by Grandma. They had all had a great holiday but were all glad to be “home”.

As they all talked over the top of each other, trying to out do each other with their holiday stories, fishing, camping, bike riding, I realized that it wasn’t 2 separate lives for them. For them and their friends it is just the way life is. Everybody lives like this. Yes, we do have 2 homes and 2 sets of friends, but I was wrong, we only have 1 life, it has just covered a few different locations. And, for as long as the Little Travellers are happy we will continue on with the life we know.

So next year, when I’m sobbing through my Goodbyes, I’ll remember, the Hellos are pretty fantastic.

How about you? Have you floated between two places? Have you lived a double life?

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