The Car Wash...
It's been a little over a year since we made the move from Sydney to beautiful Bowral in the Southern highlands of NSW. It took us years to pluck up the courage, and always had great reasons to stay where we were. One Friday afternoon, when picking up the kids from preschool, they begged to go visit one of those carwashes where you drive in and wash the car yourself. They loved hearing the loud noises of the high pressure water, and being momentarily blinded by the thick white soap suds. To be truthful, the car was long over due for a wash, so I was easily worn down. There was one a few suburbs away, so at 3.30 we started off for what should have been a lovely afternoon. An hour and 45min later, we were still on route ... for whatever reason there had been yet another incident on the one and only road we needed to travel on, and traffic was at a standstill. The boys fell asleep, so tired that when we eventually arrived at the car wash, they slept through the vacuuming under their feet, the loud water beating down on the car, and the stop start as we made our way through the now peak hour traffic all the way home ... a mere 5kms away.
I'd had enough. Our lives had become full of crammed parking stations, long waits at traffic lights, parking tickets, over tired kids, and over stressed adults. I had recently left my full time corporate job in an attempt to restore some sense of balance to our family ... but it hadn't been as much of a transformation as I had hoped. To be fair, I had tried every version of work-life balance, and none of it had quite worked. Perhaps the problem was bigger than that. Whilst sitting in that heavy city bound traffic, I called Otu who was still in the office, and we agreed in a matter of minutes that it was time to sell up and move. We both loved Sydney life ... the food, shopping, parks, harbour. But it just wasn't working for our little family anymore. Being there for the drop offs and picks ups of school was wonderful, but sitting on the Pacific Hwy for 30 min to travel the 3kms was just frustrating! As was having our main supermarkets in two of the busiest shopping centres in Sydney. Our boys were spending more time in transit to play dates than enjoying them. Their lives were heavily watched and supervised, with few of the freedoms and adventures that we enjoyed as kids when playing on the street or walking to school and friends houses - on our own!
Back to the beginning ... this was all on a Friday afternoon. By Monday we had signed contracts to sell our place, and begun the short search for our new Bowral home. We inspected a grand total of 7 homes before finding 'The One', bought and sold in a matter of weeks, and then had that 'oh crap' moment when the realisation of what was about to happen finally sank in! That was just over a year ago.
So now i'm sitting on our kitchen table, looking out to a lush green garden. It's drizzling here, so quite cool for a summers day. The boys are on school holidays and are currently putting their shoes on so they can run next door and invite their little friend over for a play. They may even stay there for a few hours. They will go out our front gate, on to the street and in to the front garden of the house next door, and I won't be moving (or concerned!). We are finally close to all our family, and just celebrated Christmas together with no one having to drive 2hrs to arrive at the celebration. Our new local friends walk straight through to our back door as if we have known each other all our lives, and we plan spontaneous visits to parks, each others houses, and kid friendly dinner venues, as if we were family.
It's been much much easier to move our lives than we could have ever imagined. I started working almost straight away. So far, word of mouth has handed me some very awesome gigs where i've met amazing people and have been given wonderful opportunities. Most importantly, our lives are fuller than ever, whilst doing much much less. The boys get to grow up with an rich extended family and all the wonderful dynamics that go hand in hand with that. Although they love their trips back up to the big smoke for dumplings, sushi, and visits with friends, they beg for us to never move back. I now drive around in a dirty car. We don't have one of those DIY car washes down here. Our family has grown to fill the space we are now in. A second doggo, a snuggly cat from the local shelter, a lonely rooster that's overly friendly and thinks he should live inside our house, and to now keep him company, a flock of gorgeous chickens to enjoy our scraps and give us eggs. We have a shed full of hedge trimmers, ride on mowers, sacks of fertilisers, and a lot more secateurs than one would ever think is needed!
On a personal note, I'm chuffed to have been present to capture so many moments with my own family. Little snippets in time that would have floated by without mention, or recollection. We personal photo books that my boys flick through so often that they are frayed, and have oily finger marks on each page. They are as loved, if not more so, than their favourite story books. There are no words on the pages, but the boys can talk at length about each image. The impact of having a camera ever present has meant that now i'm blissfully ignored by loved ones and my personal work is more candid and natural than i could have ever hoped. I have so many images of all the kids with grandparents and great grandparents that are authentic and full of emotion. To all of us, this is priceless. These images are not 'perfect' or 'colour matched' but they part of our lasting memory of family life...