Saturday, December 4, 2010

Why Lawnton? (Part One: Down the Stream)

Ryan and Andrew probably hadn't even reached their classrooms on their first day at Lawnton State School – a week to the day after landing on the runway in Brisbane - when the school secretary leaned over the reception area and conspiratorially called me over. She looked both ways before she popped the question that was on her mind. (Okay, maybe not, but in my mind three weeks later she did!)
''WHY LAWNTON?'' she asked.

She meant the town and not the school. (More raves about THAT later! Less than 200 kids, an engaged teaching staff, caring administrative staff AND personalized attention for EACH student? Why NOT Lawnton State School?!)

What brings a family from the United States – the bolder, louder sibling across the globe – through the wonders of Europe to land on the shores not only of Australia, and Brisbane, but of LAWNTON, a tiny suburb north of Brisbane. The mall? The wonders of Target and Big W? Lawnmowers on Sunday? (YAY – Sundays as they SHOULD be! But more on that later too!)

I'm beginning to realize that 'Row, row, row your boat...gently down the stream'' really DOES say more about life than most people ever pick up on. (Also that sooner or later I will have to begin spelling realize 'realise' but baby steps on the personal growth here.)

There is a current to our lives, and clinging to branches or escaping onto flotsam and jetsam is only a temporary – and false – sense of control over where the great river of life is bringing us.
Have you ever felt that you were in exactly the right place at the right time, that you were EXACTLY where you were MEANT to be?

When my shrink asked me that over 15 months ago, in September 2009, I cried. (I cried a lot in 2009 so it came as no surprise!) The only time I had ever experienced that before (and I now know that I'm lucky that I have ever experienced it at all) was 20 years before, on a bus in Kenya. My new friend, Kristy, shared it too, as we sat together in the back of the bus taking us to the rest of our lives. THIS was where we were meant to be. THIS was right.

20 years later, in Holzgerlingen, I cried. If THAT was who I was, then I was lost. Because there was no way I was going to get back onto that bus in Kenya with four kids and bills to pay.

That month I decided to look into jobs in Australia, a continent that, quite frankly, had never really interested me before. English colony. Bah.

But Damon could get citizenship there. It had a universal health care system (unlike Germany whose system REQUIRES all citizens to be insured but doesn't offer them all that privilege – it's an obligation, NOT a privilege, which - in my mind at least- are polar opposites). It spoke English. And it had jobs, jobs, jobs. Unlike Europe, it recognizes MY degree. Unlike Europe, it respects Damon's degree from the USA. And, again unlike Europe, it encouraged skilled immigrants with programs such as tax incentives for first-time home buyers in Australia.

And the damn education system didn't condemn my daughter to prostitution at the age of 8. (And while this might seem like a gross exaggeration, where else is an underappreciated sensitive soul going to go in an outdated feudal system that already has her pegged to finish school at the age of 14?!) Hey – at least the prostitutes have a pension plan. And health insurance!

So that when I went back to my shrink and told her we were moving to Australia, it didn't take much time until she was convinced it was the right move for us. (I do like to think she wasn't just trying to get rid of a difficult patient because, frankly, we had lots of laughs too and compared to the rest of the saps I saw in there I was a bright ray of sunshine!)

My shrink was on board before I was entirely on myself. (I still wasn't sure I wasn't running ''from'' something instead of ''to'' something.)

''Oh.'' she said. Her face lit up with understanding and she visibly relaxed and settled back into her chair as if she'd finally put the last piece into the puzzle of my discontent.

''You're an adventurer.''

And from that moment on all she did was give me the tools to let go of my flotsam and jetsam and to row, row, row...........

Not exactly the answer the school secretary was looking for that first Friday at Lawnton SS. Not the answer I gave. (Although, in the rewind of my mind's eye I like to see me leaning casually across the reception window talking to her about the movement of my life, as she wearily begins to slump and fade into her chair, politely regretting that she ever asked me in the first place!)

Not what I meant to write about either.

Unfortunately this is what happens when I don't clear out my brain's cobwebs on a regular basis. (And who knew they could build up so quickly up there?!)

Why Lawnton? Because it's where the river took me.

I call Anita that October for our weekly two hour pre-English group chat....

1 comment:

  1. Nice to see you all are where you belong. Three cheers and a row boat for your merry dreams!