Visits From The Family

Posted Tuesday, August 19, 2008, 7:47 PM


I'm from New Zealand. I live in Australia. I've been here since 1999. I came here to get away from a life that had collapsed around me rather suddenly.

I used to have a circle of people who were the best friends I could've hoped for. Fun, funny, creative, we did tons of cool stuff together, though a lot of it never amounted to anything. I was pretty happy, even though I had no money, and not much else to call my own.

But then one of those friends moved away to Wellington. Then another did the same. And a third. Another friend unexpectedly died. The last of the group I hung around with found a cool job that took up all his spare time. I was bereft. When I lost my job, due to serially incompetent management, I saved up what little money I still had and leapt across the Tasman Sea to live in Melbourne, and though it was a struggle at first, I soon found my feet and am happy to be in a place I can call home.

I have no regrets on the move. I have found a new group of friends, who, though not as hilariously funny as my old NZ friends, are much more proactively creative, and are very inclusive in their fun social activities. Some of the things I've been involved with are beyond many of my hopes.

But do I miss my family? I'm pretty close to my family, but not in the way some people are. When we grew up together, my brother and sisters and I got on very well with each other. We rarely had disagreements, and didn't really get into serious trouble. Later in life there were a few run-ins that are best left behind us, but they weren't between each other. Our Mother always tried to keep us in contact, and we'd gather for special occasions a few times a year. My brother was the hardest to corral, as his career took off into jetsetting directions while we were all homebound, but when he visited it was a pretty good evening to be had.

When I left NZ, leaving my family was one of the hardest parts of the journey, but I knew it wasn't a permanent arrangement - visits would occur from both directions, and they have done. Every year either one of them has visited me, or I've gone back to visit them. It gets so frequent that it's sort of boring, sometimes, as there's nothing new to talk about. Last time I visited it was for Christmas 2006, before that it was for my younger sister's wedding. But as my Mum travels around the world a lot, she usually stops by Melbourne on the way there or back so I get to see her a lot. The truth is I don't miss my family, because I see them too often for that.

Which brings me to my point. Today my Mum visited Melbourne again, after a little holiday in South Australia, and she brought her friend Linda (who witnessed my Passport renewal form). We hung out together for a brief lunch and a wander, but there wasn't much to chat about. And it's strange to me that I see her less frequently than I did when I was back in NZ, and yet we have less and less to talk about as so few things develop in our lives as we get older. My life right now is not that dissimilar to how it was three or four years ago, whereas through the 90s it was developing in new directions every year.

Mum brought over a DVD of a NZ film that you can't find anywhere else, which was nice of her. It's called Out Of The Blue and was directed by a friend of mine, Robert Sarkies, who I have done work for on some of his earlier films (some completed, some aborted). It's about the Aramoana Massacre, which happened not far from where I was living at that time, and is one of the worst crimes that has ever happened in New Zealand's history. I hope it's as good as the reviewers claim.

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