Saturday was our two year immi-versary, the anniversary of our immigration to Australia. I stumbled off of a 24 hour flight into to the blazing South Australian with Dr. O’C and a seven month old Boy Z. I’d never been to Australia and despite befriending several natives (including the one I had lived with for seven years) and doing extensive research into my Antipodean future home, I hadn’t a clue what to expect of the place. I was jobless, carless and clueless. It certainly wasn’t my first move, it wasn’t even my first international move. But I’ve never felt so lost.
We arrived the day before ANZAC Day. I hadn’t a clue what an ANZAC was, nevermind why he/she/it/they had a day. All I knew was that when I managed to wander my way down to the closest grocery store to the faceless suburb into which we had landed was that it was closed up tight.
Two years later I’m not quite as lost. Inexplicably I’ve still got Dr. O’C. I’ve got a two-and-a-half year old budding fascist dictator in Boy Z and his rapidly growing lieutenant, Not Max. I know my away around my adopted city like I’m a native. I’ve got a job that I love a car that Dr. O’C keeps bashing up and a place to lay my head with a sea view when I wake up. I even know where to buy a carton of milk on ANZAC Day.
More importantly, I’ve come to feel at home in my home. I don’t feel Australian, but I feel comfortable among the Australians. I feel a part of Australia, that I can participate in things Australian. I feel a part of, something that I haven’t in the six and a half years since I left the country of my birth.
And I can tell you about ANZAC day. It’s a day of remembrance for the Australian and (less importantly) New Zealand Army Corps that fought at Gallipoli in World War I. The Battle of Gallipoli involved allied British and French troops landing in Turkey in a futile attempt to take Constantinople from the Turks. It involved a significant Australian presence and something like 8,000 Australian casualties. They tell us on ANZAC Day, that Gallipoli helped to established Australian national identity. I find it a bit odd that a thrashing at the hands of the Turks marks the beginning of Australian national consciousness, but it’s one of those idiosyncrasies that make Australians such a winsome people.
So the groceries stores are closed and there are dawn services around the country and in Gallipoli. And we have biscuits. And football. And I’ve learned, on this my third ANZAC Day and the second anniversary of my arrival in this enchanting corner of the world, that if you get out of the way and let it, life keeps getting better from one year to the next.