Saturday, December 12, 2009

Touching me, touching you

Hands, touching hands, reaching out
Touching me, touching you
Oh, sweet Caroline
Good times never seem so good
I've been inclined to believe it never would
from Neil Diamond "Sweet Caroline"

Today I realised how far I was from my fellow Australians.

Sure, I've glimmered it before. After all, I've lived in the United States for these past 14 years. But somehow today it hit me.

I like to "touch base" with my Australian friends, and normally do so on the weekends. It's pretty hard to do so in the week, because of the time difference. So I generally phone on a Friday or Saturday evening - Saturday or Sunday morning in Australia.

Though as the weeks/years go by, I've realised it is ME who more and more does the phoning. A one-way street.

Tonight it was crunch time. I'd seen the one-way street. It just took a while to sink in. Tonight it was a highway.

BUT - "It's Christmas. Let's keep in touch," I thought.

And I made my weekend calls. At each number I hesitated before I dialed. After all, I had an inkling that the call may not be welcomed. But I put it down to my own hyper-sensitivity.

Was it that it is because it is coming into what we in New York call "the holidays"? Christmas, Chanaka??? Everyone is busy???? I don't think so. Not in OZ.

I think it is that Australia doesn't forgive the "expat".

And I suppose I understand. We are the ones who "left".

"I'll call you later." "I'm about to go out." "Check the airfares, we would so much like to visit."

Yep. Pretty nice. Pretty encouraging ... Check your own airfares!

But I really do understand. Those who have left, have left.

We are OK for a visit. But are we really there? And are we here?

I guess not.

But THINK. We aren't the Germaine Greers. We aren't the Clive James. We are just ordinary Australians. I know a few of "us".

For some reason, work, relationships, families, took us to the United States, England, Germany, Sweden ...

We miss our fellow Aussies. We aren't betrayers.

I put the phone down.

I understand.

I say, "Good Bye."


Anonymous said...

I think it's a given that the calls will mean more to us than they will to them. They still have their lives over there and friends they can see in person rather than a disembodied voice every so often.


Anonymous said...

Yep, and it gets worse as we grow older; we aren't there for them when they are sick, have grandchildren, have a morning cuppa, commiserate when things are tough. We left for better opportunities, greener pastures. So expats, get over it. Make your life among your new friends and hold them close 'cause they're all you've got.

ian said...

You are so right Kate. I made a conscious decision not to contact a few friends when I got back nearly twelve months ago. these are people who i had rung from China. I don't know whether they think I am still there as they haven't rung here and I still have the same email. i guess I have lost any importance in their lives which is fine. As we turn pages in life it is OK to look back but don't expect the it to be the same.

Kate said...

Ian, that's very interesting about the 12 months! I might try just stopping phoning. Prob no one will notice!

Anonymous said...

Not true! We love expats!
Its more down to the circadian in the night time and us in daytime.
Night & Day
you are the one
beneath the moon
and under the sun
Whatever...we all love you kiddo!

nautiaussie said...

Fortunately, or unfortunately, I have the opposite problem! We get loads of calls from Oz, and as the above poster said, it's the circadian thing, and usually bad for us. We are just starting dinner, watching a movie or coming down and relaxing before going to bed, and the phone goes! But I must admit to loving the contact so have spoken to my girlfriends well into the night.

With email and the advent of social networking sites, it is so much easier to share our daily lives with our OS friends, wherever they are. As a result, our household depends on the phone much less. Not quite ready to give it up as it is so nice to have a chat, but it is much easier to post or email. As to who does the major part of the contacting, I can't really say, but think it is about 50/50 - this includes all forms, email, phone, "Facebooking" etc.

Kate said...

Oh no! Now I feel REALLY bad. It must be me and nothing to do with being an expat.

Ms Unpopular!!!!

nautiaussie said...

No, no, no, it's definitely not you!! Really, I think the 3 hour time difference from CA and NY, plus that of Oz, PLUS the fact that we are all retired (both ends) is what makes all the difference. They call me around mid-morning to mid afternoon (you know, cuppa time), fits right in with their schedules but not mine. My girlfriend is home only a few hours on weekends, so I fit in with her anytime, ergo the very late night chats.

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