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.