Thursday, 30 December 2010

I Have Arrived

An epiphany is described as having a sudden realisation. This happens when you can all of a sudden see the larger picture, or find the missing piece. I had an epiphany the other week. I realised that I finally have enough friends that more than one are sometimes free on the same night. It may sound like something small, but when you come to a new place and start out knowing no one, this is huge. I'm almost 3 years into life in Adelaide, and it did take well over 2 years to get to the point where I've felt as though I'm not so all alone. We often take our relationships for granted when we live in a place our entire lives, so to suddenly be without any (aside from our new spouse) can be extremely isolating. I've often compared making new friends as an expat to dating - we meet up with new people, in public places, for a drink or a meal, and see if we have anything in common other than the fact that we're looking for someone else to relate to. If we get along well enough the first time, we try again, perhaps adding in a movie or other such social event. Often times, after a few months of getting together, we realise we just aren't that into each other, and we move on. If we do find that we have some things in common, we spend a year or so getting to know each other better, until we're comfortable enough to just ring up one day out of the blue to meet up for lunch. It's work, which is probably why, after going through the dance a few times and securing some friends, we stop trying to make new ones. One thing we should learn from the expat friendship quest is that working on new relationships should be ever present and ongoing. In addition to the fact that expats move on much more frequently than those who live in the place they've grown up, and we'll lose everyday friends due to this, we become more aware (or should do) that meeting new people enriches our lives. I never ever make new year's resolutions, but I'm going to start this year by making it an active goal to keep meeting new people, at a time when I could become complacent simply because I do finally have some mates.

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

I Feel Emasculated

I just realised that I've begun this post twice, in draft form. I only got as far as the subject line, but an interaction with my neighbour just now reminded me that I wanted to write about the topic. In my 3 years of living in Australia, I have realised that, much moreso than in the US, it is difficult to get men to acknowledge, listen to and communicate with you if you are a woman. One example - our neighbour has been using our driveway to get access to his own backyard, in order to install an inground pool. As a result of doing so, we need to organise a new fence. Here in Australia, both neighbours on the side of the fence being put up have to agree to the type, size and colour of the fence, and split the cost. (This means you have 3 different sets of neighbours you have to work with to get the fence done around your house, by the way.) In the beginning, M_ next door would come over to chat to us about the fence, but only communicate with hubs. He barely looked at me, and he certainly didn't ask my opinion. Granted, hubs lived here a few years without me and M_ doesn't really know me, but it is obvious I'm the wife, which means the fence is my fence as well. It's taken over a week to get any acknowledgement. When hubs went next door to talk to M_ about the fence, he simply advised me he was going, but didn't suggest I come with. Had I not insisted in being involved in the discussions taking place, I'm not entirely sure my opinion would have been requested. This seems to happen a lot with Aussie men; you have to work harder to be heard. Never before living here have I realised that there is not a feminine equivilant to the word emasculation. There should be.

P.S. In this instance, the title should perhaps have been, Good Fences Make Good Neighbors (and that's with a u, as Robert Frost was American).