So Close.

For some of you, perhaps those in South Africa and Australia, it’s the middle of the year. Winter has arrived and life is moving along at its usual speed, you may even notice that you’re settling in and the schedule is beginning to make sense. For others in the Northern Hemisphere it’s a whole different story.

My girlfriend Cathy, once described the lead up to summer as being similar to the end of the spin cycle in a washing machine. It gets faster and faster and faster, and just when you think the washing machine is going to lift off the ground, it stops dead. Summer has arrived.

We’re at the height of the spin cycle. Last minute assignments are being done for report cards. Projects are being printed with screams of “we’ve run out of ink!” I have two trips to make to the school today for different presentations. I calmed a twelve year old trombone player this morning while she sat on bed, she is sure that her Trombone will lock and it will all be a disaster. There is fairy bread to be made for class parties. Jobs that I’ve left on the “to do” list that now REALLY have to be done as I’m about to disappear for twelve weeks. There are the phone calls to Australia for confirmation; the hire car, the doctors appointment, the transit hotel, the hairdresser.

And the suitcase sits in the corner smiling it’s big empty smile.

Every now and then I open a drawer and look at something and mutter under my breath “mustn’t forget that”. The laptop power adapter and the sim card with my Australian number. The invoice for the print I had framed in Adelaide last year and then forgot to pick up before we left. The scratchy instant money ticket that was never claimed at the news agency. I’ve pulled out the children’s library cards and my reward program that I have with the local grocer. As I put them into plastic pockets I can see myself standing in the store using them. I’m at the newsagents on a Saturday morning flicking through a big fat ‘Australian’ newspaper making sure it has the magazine inside. I’m at the butchers talking about his son, asking if he’s been over to Melbourne to visit the grandkids. I’m giggling at the hairdressers, catching up on ten months worth of stories. I can see myself opening my friend Penny’s gate, walking along the side of her house, being sad for her when I remember that Bella the labrador is no longer there to slobber over our feet.

I’m so ready to get home. Events in the last week have left us all emotionally exhausted. None of us want to forget, but we all want to escape. I feel a great need to walk along the beach, watch the waves come in, smell the air, and experience the comfort of understanding where I am and how things work. It makes no sense, there is beach here in Qatar, but I want the rolling waves, the kiosk, the cliffs and the jetty. I need to get to Renmark and see the river. I need to see a local policeman, a fire truck and a council office, to be reminded of the order that comes with community and local government. It sounds ridiculous doesn’t it? Maybe not if you’re currently living in a developing country.

The little travelers are tired. The temperatures are in the high forties now and we’ve all had colds. The third little traveler has had an ear infection and cannot swim which is just cruel, but his ear needs to be better to be on the plane. I’m constantly filling them all with vitamin c, telling them to hang on. It’s getting harder to get them out of bed and they, like me, Β already have their heads and hearts somewhere else. “What’s the first thing you’re going to eat?” I heard one of the boys ask the other “a sausage, and then a freddo frog and then a crumpet and then…”

The spin cycle winds up and continues to whir and shudder, but we’re so close.

So close.

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  1. I can’t believe you have library cards and scratchy tickets! More organised then you think.

  2. I have our library cards ready too! Even the blockbuster membership card. Like you, we cannot wait. Enjoy your well deserved tonic of home, all of you.

  3. So cool, you make me appreciate the little things about home here in Oz πŸ™‚

  4. Wow – a life in a parallel universe, just waiting for you to step into it. How cool. Enjoy your countdown

  5. Fabulous post – can totally relate to the spin cycle in the build up to summer. This year will feel strange as we are going to Europe for 6 weeks instead of Oz so beginning to develop a little of that Geographical Schizophrenia – I desperately want to go home to Gods Own Country (aka Mansfield), yet I can’t wait to see the Eiffel tower for the first time. Have a fabulous winter and please have a meat pie and sauce for me πŸ™‚

    • I was very very very lucky and got to do Paris in the Spring a few years ago, it was a very quick trip but so much fun. That first peek at the Eiffel tower will make it all worthwhile. Do me a favour and go and see the MusΓ©e de l’Orangerie – I didn’t get there πŸ™

  6. Don’t forget the random Australian cheques to bank! Or maybe that’s just me.

    Ans the keys to the beach house!

  7. I have stamps and pocket change awaiting next year’s trip to the UK. We go every three years. I might get a Boots card this time! X

  8. We have 1.5 days to go here. My four have all been sick too, and oh so hard to drag out of bed. Cannot wait! But you do make me homesick for that same gate…as you are missing Bella, please don’t forget to give my love to Pen!! Have a wonderful summer. x

  9. and fruchocs ! don’t forget the Fruchocs ! we can’t wait to see you all – beachside or the city xx

  10. How can I be jealous?! We are going to France for 2 weeks which is one of the great benefits of being here, but 2 weeks just doesn’t feel long enough or soon enough right now…. I’m craving for the normality of home more than ever after the events of recent times and a meat pie and sauce would top it off! Enjoy the waves!

  11. Don’t forget plug adaptors and to clean out the little traveller’s backpacks from any sign of food debris or crumbs or the beagle at Australian customs will getcha! So pleased you have your trip to look forward to and it’s now so close. You all probably need the perspective that comes with distance. Vix x

  12. Oh and I’m just a little jealous too.

  13. I smiled when I read you need to get to Renmark. Thought to myself it will put you in cooee of me while right now you’re in cooee of my sister πŸ™‚

  14. Anonymous says

    Would love to be reading a weekend paper with a crumpet in hand……

  15. Great post Kirstie – so beautifully written! I am 36 weeks pregnant so counting down to a whole different winter here in Oz – but can relate to the spin cycle cause when this bub comes I think my whole world will feel like it has stopped!

  16. A great analogy. The first of four summer grandchildren arrive tomorrow. Their spin stops, mine starts.

  17. Anonymous says

    Laughing at your blog, as this was what was just going thru my mind. I think im actually the only one counting down the days till summer in my house. no more running!! thanks for always saying what we all feel.

  18. I get so much from reading your blog, thank you! We’re getting ready to be expats for the first time and I find your writing inspirational and it makes me think, especially about 20 suitcases!! Hope you have a great trip back home.

    • Thanks Adriana, comments like yours keep me going (I still struggle to read anything I wrote more than a few hours ago without cringing with embarrassment). Enjoy your adventure, the first year is always the toughest but also so exciting. xx

  19. Such a brilliantly written post.
    Travel safe and enjoy your time back here in Oz x

  20. Safe travels Kirsty (& family) It’s always manic leading up to a trip back home – boy the end result is worth it though! We are getting ready to live a full package Ex-pat life in Santiago de Chile next week and I have 2 at home with ear infections – I am even burning ‘orange’ scent oils – vitamin C is my new best friend. Enjoy!

  21. “What’s the first thing you’re going to eat?”

    I can totally relate to this phrase. Whenever I return home to Canada, I make a list of all the things I’m going to eat that I can’t get in Australia.

    By the time my visit ends and I return home to Australia, I’ve gained 5 kilos and I can’t do up my top button comfortably on the plane.

  22. This post brought tears to my eyes. I know ‘exactly’ what you mean. To a t. (I’ve been a on and off again reader of your blog and never comment)

    I too, was an ex-pat, in Abu Dhabi no-less, for three years and returned to Oz (for the time being) at the beginning of the year. For weeks we all talked about the first thing we were going to eat upon our return too – Dim Sims, a Coles BBQ sausage, Twisties, Cheese and Bacon Balls….the list went on. It’s funny now, as we are talking about certain things we miss in AD and saying “what’s the first thing you’d eat upon your return to AD”. Oscar Mayer bacon is leading the run along with the best eggs on the planet. …

    Like Shelly before me here, I too have put on weight (urgh) – too much of a good thing…. (Toooo much fish and chips wrapped in paper!)

    I enjoy reading your blog and can very much relate to a lot of your topics. I’m sorry about the shit week you and the rest of Doha have experienced. Recharge back in Australia and return with a feeling of freshness….

  23. Wow, now I’m homesick for Australia; and I’ve never even been there.

  24. Once you are back home surrounded by family, friends and things familiar, you can breathe. Safe travels Kirsty.

  25. Anonymous says

    Safe journey and have a blast Kirsty with your loved ones

  26. School finishes tomorrow here. We are in the very very fast last bit of the spin cycle. I am looking forward to it being over. A few weeks to pack suitcases and then home. Look forward to tweeting you in the same timezone briefly.
    michelle x

  27. ‘Spin Cycle’ is the most accurate phrase to describe the chaotic run-up to the end of the year I’ve ever heard. Wonderful that you have that base in Oz to return to, it’s a little different when they’re older.

    We didn’t go back ‘home’ to the US last summer so looking forward to getting back. Daughter and I will spend 5 weeks seeing my parents on both ends of the trip (my dad is fighting a new round of cancer) that will be emotional but important quality time. In between it’s the mad dash of visiting 6 universities, medical/dental appointments, her pre-college prep program, visiting my my mother-in-law, seeing friends (but never enough time with those we’ll see and not going far enough north to see others…), blah blah blah. It’s enough to make me crawl under the covers and give up, but far too much to do in the remaining 2 weeks. In the midst of it all we will spend a blessed week at the beach with my brother’s family, remembering why we came. Husband and Son will be living the bachelor life here in the Netherlands (no dating privileges for the former) as the latter finishes his first real world job internship. Where did the time go??

    If we all survive, it’ll be family vacation time in August somewhere sunny and relaxing. Travel safely, Kirsty, and enjoy.

  28. It seems like the spin cycle never ends.

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