This post mentions violence and could be triggering for some readers.
"How do you feel about moving to America?" my husband asked during one of Melbourne’s lockdowns last year. A job opportunity had come up at his work for an internal transfer.
After what seemed like about 700 days of isolation, I was keen for anything to break up the monotony of life. I told my husband to throw his hat in the ring. At the very least, it would give us something to talk about other than COVID. Those of you in Melbourne will relate to the tortuous dinner table conversations during lockdown where no one had anything to say.
We had flirted with the idea of living in the US a few times over the past decade. A job opportunity at General Motors had been offered, but after spending a week in Detroit’s winter scraping ice off my windscreen and playgrounds frozen over, it was a no from me!
A few years later another opportunity appeared, this time in Silicon Valley (hello, Tesla) but it didn’t eventuate. Like an itch that hadn’t been scratched, we were both keen to explore the opportunity. And this time, the job was in California. Just a tad warmer than Michigan!
As it turned out, he was offered the job, and we did have things to talk about; Were we up for the adventure? Yes! Did we want our kids to experience life in another country? Yes! Did we want to do something different? - Heck, yes!
But another, more haunting question lay beneath the surface...
Did we want our kids to go to school in the US?
Whilst it had been my childhood fantasy to go to school in America - think yellow school buses and Sweet Valley High adventures - a very unsettling question had to be asked...
Were we scared about school shootings?
The answer was yes.
I was terrified.
"School shootings" are two words no parent ever wants to hear in the same sentence. But these tragic events, sadly so familiar, are a real and legitimate fear.
My husband and I talked at length about this. He offered up the following reassurances: school shootings rarely happened in elementary schools. We could return to Australia for high school. The likelihood was so slim...
When faced with a tough life decision, Gretchen Rubin’s ethos came to mind: Choose the bigger life.
We said yes. He took the job. And our bigger life began.
We have been in California for 8 weeks soaking up the experience. The sun shines every day, buoying people’s moods. The people are welcoming and friendly, the tacos AH-mazing, and our girls have settled in nicely at school.
The greatest country in the world… so they say.
Last week I was beginning to feel it. What’s not to love about living here? I said to a friend. It felt like a dream come true.