I was at a wedding recently talking to an American who had moved to the UK and actually had to retake his driving test before he was allowed to drive there. And it got me thinking. Because in Austria, I was allowed to drive, on the wrong side of the road, in foreign language, with different road rules, immediately – no lessons or tests required!
The driving rules between Austria and Australia are similar in many way – ignoring the whole ‘driving on the other side of the road’ of course. Still, Austria has some quite interesting quirks when it comes to road rules and the way to drive.
Nine months on from excruciating back pain, life has much improved. I can run for 40 minutes – 40 minutes. I live day to day with only a mild discomfort or misstep reminding me that I still have an issue. I underwent no surgery. I am one of the lucky ones.
But when the pain bites it’s not always easy to remember the positives. Sometimes it comes crashing down again: the frustration of having to wait for my husband to retrieve something from a high shelf, standing around while others carry heavy items, annoyance that I can’t sleep on my stomach.
When friends from home visit they invariably bring Aussie food with them – I’ve got a great stash of the important things – Tim Tams, BBQ Shapes, Cadbury chocolate, the list goes on! And to start with, when I got a new batch of deliveries I would I proudly present it to my Austrian friends or work colleagues with a flourish… but their subsequent delight wasn’t always what I was hoping for.
I’ve now been living in Austria for almost 4 years. Having a steady job, buying a house and finally feeling like I’m starting to get a slight grasp of the German language… well it’s a little bit scary.
Because it’s gotten to the point where I realise that this is somewhere I might be for a while. A few years, at the very least. The initial suitcase of clothes I brought over has been added to with various knick knacks and other belongings through each visit and each return trip home. My old bedroom in Australia is looking less and less like mine all the time.
And in facing this reality, I just want to say to my friends and family: I’m sorry I won’t be there. Because in the future, there will come a time, an event, a life occasion, a celebration, a sickness, a death… and I just won’t be able to be there.