13. Inside my little brown suitcase

When I was small I carried a little suitcase… You know the kind? The box shaped brown ones made of hard board with a small brown plastic handle. My suitcase went with me everywhere and it was filled with Lego. Lego was my favourite toy because it had the potential to become anything you wanted.

Houses were my favourite things to build, perfect little houses with gardens and those pretty pink flowers blooming around every corner. I had all the Lego roads, the straights and the curves, which I’d connect to make my miniature neighbourhoods. Even at the age of 5, everything would have its place in my little city, everything flowing, everything functioning as it should. Tiny smiling people would stand at pedestrian crossings and cars, buses and law enforcement vehicles would be evenly spaced on the roads so that there’d be no chance of a terrible Lego accident.

Now please don’t tell me that there are bound to be Lego accidents, that some of my pieces might go missing or that one of my Lego people aren’t smiling… Because today is one of those days when I feel like I am living in my perfectly designed Lego city. Everything flows, everything works. It is New Zealand… and I wouldn’t pack up my little brown suitcase for anything in the world today. What a magnificent city this is. How lucky we are to have taken this massive step towards freedom – and beauty – and this deep breath of life!

legohouse1
…and don’t call it “Legos”! It’s LEGO!
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12. Big City Lights

Before we moved to the Kapiti Coast, I was under no false illusion that there’d be big malls and bright shiny lights. In my mind, New Zealand was a place you came to leave those things behind. I wanted somewhere where my kids would be free to be kids.

I don’t remember any part of my childhood being restricted by physical boundaries. Some of my best memories are the ones where I played with small metal cars in little tracks that I’d moulded out of mud and stones in my grandparents’ front garden. From my seat on the grass, I could see passers-by, traffic, and the little corner cafe. On many a day when Oupa was feeling generous, we’d each get a giant R1 coin and we’d run hurridly across to that cafe. Now that, that was an outing, a real treat! It felt like hours that we’d spend in that shop and what that R1 coin could buy us felt like, well, everything!

So, while I sit here tonight feeling strangely miserable, I struggle to rationalise why I miss all those modern conveniences that I’ve become accustomed to as an adult. My days are filled with laundry and deciding which fabric softener is best, which one is better for black clothing, and which is really just the most affordable. There is no telephone that rings and there’s only so many dishes a person can wash (and what dreadfully awful dish washing liquid is this anyway? Where is my South African Sunlight. Don’t even talk to me about your “Marmite”.). When the TV that I switch on for background noise echoes the beginnings of Dr. Phil, I shudder at what my everyday life in New Zealand starts to look like.

At the end of the day, all we really need is to feel like we are home. How long does that take I wonder? What defines “home”? The vast separation I feel, while I’m sure is absolutely normal for a new immigrant, is an emotion we must – just – manage. When the question surrounds your children, what kind of “home” do I want for them? I know that it is not  one that involves shopping for brand name clothing on a Saturday afternoon.  It is not one where they cannot ride a bike and explore the beauty of their very own neighbourhood. It definitely is not one that is riddled with fear that they aren’t even old enough, nor should they be forced to understand.

That, is certain.

As for the laundry and Dr Phil, well, I’ve decided to play some music, to open the curtains, to get back into an old hobby. Maybe next week I’ll step outside and build some mud tracks with the children and ride bikes in the park.

Today marks 1 month, 3 weeks and 1 day since our arrival. One day I will stop counting.