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My Adventures in Wonderland…so far

I could tell you my adventures – beginning from this morning…but it’s no use going back to yesterday, because I was a different person then. [Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Lewis Carroll]

Over and over since moving to Melbourne I have been asked: “How are you going? How are you settling in? How do you feel?”

Thankfully everything is going well. Things are falling into place. Running smoothly. I couldn’t ask for more at this stage.

Yet there’s still something that makes me feel like Alice in Wonderland – and that I have woken up inside a rabbit-hole. Woken to a world that is familiar enough…yet just different enough. And like Alice – yesterday in Sydney feels like a different lifetime. A different paradigm.

And I think Alice has a lot of wisdom to say about managing the changes and challenges of moving – let’s take a look…

In another moment down [the rabbit-hole] went Alice after it, never once considering how in the world she was to get out again.

Moving is a little (or a lot) like taking a flying leap down a rabbit-hole. You convince yourself you are making an informed decision, weighing up pros and cons. You construct a wonderful matrix that PROVES this move is indeed the best decision for your life right now. 

But it’s just a trick. Because you really haven’t got the faintest idea if this is the right thing to be doing. None whatsoever.

And so, like Alice, you follow the white rabbit, you take a leap…and hope for the best. And when you find yourself deep inside the rabbit-hole you wonder what happened to the real world. You wonder how on earth you got here…and if there’s any chance you’ll ever be going home.

‘What a curious feeling!’ said Alice; ‘I must be shutting up like a telescope.’ And so it was indeed: she was now only ten inches high…

It doesn’t take eating or drinking the wrong thing to feel the wrong size when you move. Whether too small or large the world just doesn’t seem to quite fit. I find the way of living and scale of things different enough to be jolting. Melbourne feels flatter and more spread out – at least compared to the part of Sydney I come from.

I used to be able to walk to buy just about anything I needed…and if I couldn’t walk, then really I never had to travel much further than 3-5 kilometres. On the odd occasion I’d need to venture further than that, but not much further. The world was close and at my doorstep.

Here there is wonderful greenery and so much space…but I need to get in my car to just about do anything. It makes me feel very small to have the world so spread out like this.

It’s not bad, just different – and I’m struggling to get used to the loss of having a corner store across the road where I could get a lemon, ginger, parsley, stockings etc within minutes. It will be a while until this different way of living feels as if it truly fits. As if I truly fit.

But alas! Either the locks were too large, or the key was too small.

As for the house – I love the house we’ve rented, it has many advantages over our Bondi residence and I’m happy to come back here after being out. But it’s not fully home yet. Not quite. It’s not automatic yet.

It’s been a month and I still can’t work out the light switches. Where are they, what do they do? The light switch in one room is behind the door on the hinge side – you have to walk into a dark room, stretch around the door and grope blindly till you find the switch.

And as for the kitchen – I still can’t remember where we keep the electric frypan or the rice cooker or whatever. I’m still reaching in my mind to where we kept these things at home – to suddenly jolt out of my illusion to realise once more…oh yes I’m in Melbourne. I’m looking forward to these things slowly becoming familiar, and feeling more and more at home.

‘You ought to be ashamed of yourself…a great girl like you…to go on crying in this way’

It’s true. I confess. Throughout this whole process I have had tears…more than once. I’m sure I’ll have more.

Tears of grief for the loss of my old life…for separating from my family, my friends, my favourite places to go, my favourite places to pray, my favourite places to shop.

Moving might have wonderful benefits in the long run. I’m sure, like Alice, I’ll grow in unexpected ways. But I’ve learnt that growth and change comes at a price. And it’s OK to grieve.

And it’s ok to ask for and receive help. In fact I’d say it’s mandatory. And I thank those people who have been there for me in tough moments – whether you know it or not.

…after a few minutes it seemed quite natural to Alice to find herself talking familiarly with them, as if she had known them all her life.

Like Alice, I’ve found that people and connections have made all the difference.

I feel overwhelmed by how welcoming everyone has been and how helpful in helping us adjust. It’s great to be meeting such wonderful people that I can talk to as if I’ve known them my whole life. It is really lovely – and comforting really.

And to all the other special people already in my life – family who came to visit, or be Skyped around the house, friends and colleagues who’ve rung and texted me and connected with me on Facebook. Thankyou. It makes me feel connected to the real world. It makes me think it will all be OK – better that I can ever have imagined.

And as Alice says:

I almost wish I hadn’t gone down that rabbit-hole – and yet – and yet – it’s rather curious, you know, this sort of life.

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5 Comments

  1. Great post, Jocelyn. As someone pondering an almost inevitable big move in the next 6 months (destination not yet determined) it’s interesting to see another’s perspective on it. I hope you find your fit in Melbourne soon and that I do the same wherever I end up!

    • Thanks Penny – it’s been challenging. I’m curious how I’ll look back on this in a year’s time…Good luck to you!!

  2. Rob Burnside

    WOW, Dr. J –it hasn’t hurt your writing one bit! Curiouser and curiouser…

    • Thankyou Rob – I’ve missed blogging. Feels great to be back!!

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