On August 18, 1986, as a 24 year old mother of four young children, I moved from Brisbane to Tasmania; from being surrounded by family, to a place where we had no family; from a city to a sheep farm; from the relative warmth of a Queensland winter to the depths of a Tasmanian one.
I felt sentenced, although unsure of the length of my sentence.
It turns out my sentence was 27 years, 10 months, and 22 days (or thereabouts).
On Wednesday 25th June, 2014, my sentence ended.
Despite the ‘sentence’, Tasmania ended up being a good place to live – a cold one and I have complained often and bitterly over the years about the cold – but looking back it’s easy to focus on the good parts of living in the state that’s been the butt of mainlanders’ jokes for many years.
During my 27 years and a bit years, I (in no particular order):
* ran a general store in a very small country town
* had a fifth child
* worked in community radio
* completed an undergraduate degree specialising in English and Drama teaching
* taught in a high school and a senior secondary college
* got my bus licence
* taught Drama and English and Tourism Studies
* completed Cert IV in Workplace Training and Assessment
* worked for ABC Local Radio as a producer and presenter
* began A Kick in the Arts – a weekly community radio arts program
* returned to university and completed a PhD
* became an academic and took on a range of leadership roles
* was the chair of a local theatre company for a time
* lived in the north-east, the north-west, and the north – and then the north-west and then the north and then the north-west
* re-married 19 years later
* undertook the year-long Tasmanian Leaders Program
* travelled to the mainland whenever I could
* travelled to New Zealand twice, then Scotland and England one year, to Paris and Germany the next and then to France, Italy and Germany the one after that
* published a number of journal articles, book chapters, and conference papers
* edited a textbook
* presented papers in Christchurch, Glasgow, Adelaide, Brisbane, Melbourne, Hobart, and Launceston
* welcomed eight grandchildren into the world
* taught more students than I could ever remember
* supervised four PhD candidates to completion
* put on lots of weight
* lost even more
* met some truly wonderful people
I moved to Tasmania because of my (then) husband’s job.
Almost 28 years later, I’ve moved away from Tasmania because of my (now) husband’s job.
It’s unsettling, this moving business. Sorting out possessions stashed in dark corners of cupboards; throwing out; packing up; spending weekends in Melbourne and week days in Burnie; moving between … between living with my husband in Melbourne on weekends and living with one of my daughters and her two sons through the week. Not feeling like either place is home … one new place that isn’t really mine, and the old, familiar place that is now filled with boys’ toys and laughter and tears and hugs and bubble baths – changed, in a good way, but not really mine. Moving between having my husband cook me dinner on the weekends and cooking dinner for my daughter through the week … between gyms … between relying on public transport and having no public transport … between there and here … and here and there.
My husband and I called two different places home … it was confusing for a time. Where? Oh, that home.
A long time in transition – four months of living between. Not long, looking back … but it felt long living through it.
And now it’s done. The final move … three trips across Bass Strait in five days, each rougher than the one before. Unpacking the car, finding dark corners of cupboards to stash our things, having one home rather than two.
I don’t feel sentenced, in this new place.
I already feel more connected.