Our 'one year' opportunity to fulfil a dream of living by the sea has given rise to "we can't possibly leave yet, let's stay a little longer". It doesn't make much sense to live in one state and work in another but then again we often end up doing things a little differently.
January 6th is looming large. Johanna flies out the evening before and then Colin and I will pack the car to the hilt, make an early start and drive south for a couple of days. And that will be the end of our two-year sojourn on the Sunshine Coast. There is sadness for sure and sometimes we can’t believe it is really happening. There is also the anticipation of something new. A confusing mix of emotions of late.
Having the whole family here for Christmas was fantastic; a busy, chaotic and fun time, our little apartment bursting at the seams as we packed 8 into a space that comfortably fits 3. It felt right to be sharing the joy and pleasure of this place with those we love in our final weeks. Sun, sweat, sunscreen and salt epitomised our days. When we weren’t walking, swimming or shopping (and playing mah-jong) we were eating; a multitude of chairs pulled around a table laden with good things.
We love this place but we love our family more and it is time to return south. We have booked our caravan in at the local Big 4 here in Caloundra for Easter, we are consoling ourselves with a return in a few months. For now it is time to focus on packing up and then settling into a new place and a new life.
And with that, ‘The Colour of Blue’ will be no more. One of the reasons for keeping a blog was to stay connected with family and friends, a return south changes that. I’ll take a break and see what 2015 and Tasmania bring and decide whether there is motivation or reason to continue.
Tis the season, for storms that is. Fortunately the Sunshine Coast was spared from the damage wreaked upon Brisbane a fortnight ago. That particular storm skirted to the west of us. The recent rain has been a welcome respite from a dry Winter and Autumn, especially inland. The last couple of weeks the skies have been grey, heavy with storm clouds. They roll in and roll on by, sometimes dumping a deluge and sometimes leaving nothing more than humidity. It’s been hot, sticky, dry, wet, cool and windy at some point or another. The atmosphere is changeable, brooding and restless. And sometimes late in the day the clouds part just enough to allow a setting sun to beam its rays across a dramatic canvas that is the sky…
I have a lot of lists at the moment. Actually, I’ve got a list of lists. A list for winding up school and a list for enrolling in a new one, a very long list for packing up one apartment and a shorter list for setting up another, a list for work, a list for Christmas, a list for saying goodbye and a list for all the odd jobs that don’t fit under any other list. Oh and of course the usual list of things to do ‘today’. Life has been reduced to words and sentences written one under the other on random bits of paper and crossed through with a black biro. I think of lists, scribble lists, cross off lists and wake in the middle of the night remembering something else to go on a list. Sometimes I energetically tackle my lists and sometimes I sit paralysed looking at my lists.
I’m dreaming off sitting on the balcony of our new apartment in Seaport, feet on the railing, drink in hand watching the river and the boats go by – with every task on every list with a big black line through it and each bit of paper torn into a hundred tiny bits and stomped into the recycling bin. Accomplishment and satisfaction…
The process of change is an unpredictable one. A few months ago we set out on a path towards a different kind of 2015. Our initial thoughts and plans have developed and diverged. One thing leads to another and before you know it the path has made an unexpected turn; you are still going in the same general direction just not exactly the way you had envisaged it.
Having explored the idea of buying a place in Launceston and having some reservations about the long term benefits, we did something we have never done before – got some professional financial advice. And we are glad that we did, before we committed ourselves. Our reservations were well founded and it turns out there are better ways for us to prepare ourselves for future retirement. So renting in Launceston it will be.
Having a place in Launceston that will function as a ‘home base’ (with frequent time spent in Melbourne and as much time as practical in our caravan on the Sunshine Coast) we revisited the whole school question for Johanna. A strange thing had happened; when Johanna realised she only had a few months of school left and grades really didn’t matter she made a deliberate decision to relax and not put pressure on herself to do well. She also made a deliberate decision to spend more time with her friends and do fun stuff while she had the chance. And lo and behold she discovered that life was so much better! So much so that when we tentatively suggested she consider Launceston College as an alternative to distance education she was warm to the idea. Warmth soon turned to positively happy when she discovered it was a year 11 and 12 campus only (common in Tasmania) – no uniforms, no school assemblies, no detention for not wearing your hat, no set times for attendance (you come when you have classes) and a huge range and diversity of subjects. You are treated as a young adult and expected to take responsibility for yourself. Her cousin will be starting year 11 as well. Whew, a good compromise we think.
And the cherry on the top is having just signed a lease for an apartment in Seaport. It has wonderful water views over the Marina, there are cafes and restaurants a stones throw away and it is within walking distance to Launceston College. We couldn’t have imagined a better place to live….
Coloured cardboard, a sheet of glass, drops of milk with dye added – a welcome distraction from the world of real estate. Released from on high there is a moment when a drop creates a splash, a little bit of chaos and if you are very lucky you can capture the impact. It feels kind of symbolic these captured moments of disruption. The last few weeks have been overshadowed by researching, thinking, talking, reading and even dreaming of houses. The whole real estate business is an all consuming one at the moment.
We spent a couple of days in Launceston over the weekend familiarising ourselves with streets, property and current prices. Three of the places we were interested in all sold on the day we arrived! – a disappointing and bizarre, uncommon event in Launceston. We did wonder if the universe was sending us a message. We have done the numbers and done them again, Colin tapping into his mathematical genes creating a spreadsheet with a multitude of variables, where you can punch in a number and it will spit out the required data. At least we kind of know now the where and the what of our looking.
Disruption and moments of coloured chaos, a reflection of where we are at and how we are feeling…
There’s always one. For us it is number four. She entered this world squalling her indignation at the process and her strong will and fierce determination have kept us on our toes ever since.
Being number four I thought I had the parenting thing pretty much down pat. It came easily and we were doing it fairly well, often complimented on our well behaved little tribe. But that was before. Number four weaned herself at 9 months, too impatient to wait and work a little harder for breast milk. At 2 she refused to wear anything but pink for over 12 months. Her tantrums were legendary, the laundry was the place she was sent to calm down. Her little fists beat upon a glass panel in the door until she was rewarded with a crack, her little feet jumped up and down on the toilet seat until she was rewarded with another crack. She wrecked the toys of her sister, drew all over her dolls face, threw a chair at her brother and cut her fringe on a 45 degree angle, twice. Perhaps her greatest claim to fame was kicking her mother when she refused to buy her a toy at Kmart. Needless to say number four was banned from accompanying her mother shopping for many months.
Fortunately for us age and the maturing process have mellowed the temper and its fiery expression. Even more fortunate for us is that number four grew to be a rule keeper rather than a rule breaker. She is emotionally aware and mature, a thoughtful and intelligent young woman, still with a mind of her own. Tantrums have been replaced with reasoned argument and whinging with measured persistence. Once she decides to do something, she does it. We learnt long ago to choose our battles carefully. We have conceded on her becoming vegan, originally it was vegetarian but reasoned argument and persistence (along with my requirement of a written and submitted research paper and meal plans) have seen her achieve her end. A second visit to the dietician today, fine tuning her plans, have alleviated some of my concerns. A belly button piercing is the latest concession. She made her case, I insisted she research and make an informed decision (of course). We figure it can be removed easily one day, unlike a tattoo. And it was of course her questioning of school that started the whole journey of our re-imagining next year.
We love her to bits. She challenges us, (lots of conversations currently about the ethics of eating meat) but not with childish demands and uncontrolled emotions (which is not something that can be said of all adults!). She is finding her way, articulating and following her passions. Her strong will and determination will continue to see her be who she wants to be and do what she wants to do….
North to South and back again. My body has been in Caloundra and Melbourne these last two weeks but my mind has been in Tasmania. Exploring the possibility of making Launceston ‘home’ next year has given rise to more than we bargained for. I began looking for a place to rent and it didn’t take long to realise that the difference between renting and buying in Launceston is not significant. That of course opened up a whole new set of possibilities and a whole new set of figuring things out. To buy or not to buy? Where to buy and what kind of place to buy? We are unlikely to live in Tassie long term so it would need to be the ‘right kind of place in the ‘right’ kind of neighbourhood that is attractive to potential future renters. The amount of hours I have spent on realestate.com and researching housing trends and median prices and current market values in Launceston would run literally into days.
We are lucky that one of my sisters lives in the suburb that we are thinking of buying in. We have eyes on the ground and someone in the know, her help and advice has been invaluable. We’ve spoken with our accountant, have an appointment with the bank, a contact for a Real Estate Agent and a short list of houses to view when we head south, way south, to Tassie in a couple of weeks.
Sometimes I shake my head and wonder how we got to this place. Just a month ago basing ourselves in Launceston was not even on the radar, let alone buying a house. You start asking yourself searching questions and openly consider possibilities (and their consequences) and one thing leads to another and you end up in a place you could not have conceived. It feels a bit scary and it feels kind of ‘right’, another step along the way of living with no regrets…