I sat in a little Indian restaurant, hungry and ready for the meal. I grabbed the menu and before the list of meals, I found five pages, devoted to the history of how this Indian family came to be in this business, who they were, how they cooked and what made this place unique. My hunger disappeared and I was captivated and challenged by their story.
I felt it was time for me to look at MY STORY, my history,..... and so.....
My parents immigrated with many other Dutch families from the Netherlands in 1951. They had lived through the war so had a resilience and boldness like no other generation. They found jobs, made homes and raised families through the 1950s, 60's, and 70's. They were pioneers, adventure seekers, new world creators. Their children had extremely happy childhoods, living in worlds of imagination, freedom and fun.
I was one of those post war children, raised on farmland, in the incredibly beautiful area of Kaikoura, New Zealand. I attended a small country school, near the coast, surrounded by hills, trees and rivers. Weekends were spent horse riding, spear fishing, swimming, walking, gardening, farming....and in our free time we never ceased to create games, adventures and thrills, our imaginations left nothing untapped, we were going to live forever, have everything the world could offer and conquer all life's difficulties. Now in our old age we are just the same, we don't understand age and we continue to pursue adventure and we think we are infallible. We still wear orange jeans and shoes with laces undone.
We long for those days again when our parents were young and beautiful.....the women wearing those gorgeous sweeping, fifties, voile dresses, a cigarette in one hand and an air of arrogance in the other. Where the handsome men idly chatted, and occasionally combed their long slim fingers through their tousled hair.
To me they were the epitome of glamour and success. They worked hard and forged new paths and created a steadfast world around themselves. They seemed idyllically happy, strong and beautiful.
Oh yes of course they had struggles and hardships, but nothing was impossible, if you believed hard, talked hard and worked hard. This dream of success and beauty drove me!
From a very young age, I longed for the city. Dreamt about the day I could leave this little farm and live a glorious life in a perfect and people filled city.
That day finally arrived and my dream played out in a most normal world, married and raising three children with a big mortgage .....In that time we immigrated to Adelaide, Australia, and the dream began to turn sour ..and hardships became the norm.
I have recounted this little parable to many a listener of one of our first days in Australia.
The day, 35degrees, and a weekend ahead with plans to discover our new found home.
"Ok kids let's go and discover this new homeland of ours, let's head for that rise in the countryside over yonder, yes you could not exactly call them hills or mountains, barely noticeable in the landscape really, but let's head in that direction and find a river or lake so we can have a swim as it's pretty warm today. Hmm it's actually suffocating...oh goodness is that why we should have bought a car with air conditioning.
And these flies I don't remember this many flies back home."
Later on in the conversation as our car began to head further and further inland.
"Ok kids get your bathers on, around any corner we will come to a river and we can all hop out of this sweat box and cool off in the water...."
And still later
"Ok kids any moment now, we will find a lovely lake and we can stop the car and go for a swim. For this is truly becoming bloody insufferable!!!"
Needless to say ...we never, ever discovered water in the Adelaide Hills. In fact, not anywhere in this entire state, and to this day, it is a rare commodity indeed.
However time passed and the toils of the day passed too, my children left home, I now had some grey hair and wrinkles began to appear without my even noticing this alarming event.
How was I to exist and live like I imagined my parents had lived. All seemed to elude me. I battled with a short stint of cancer, a back and neck injury and the loss of my homeland and my parents, this drove deep into my physical and spiritual being. I believed in God and attended church all my adult life but still no answers seemed to come. Or did they?
I had a recurring dream, in that dream, I was always searching.
Normally the dream would begin with me losing some object, then for the rest of the dream I would be rushing, rushing, rushing, and looking endlessly over hills, through valleys, climbing cliffs, and clambering down embankments. Running, and chasing trying to find what I had lost. I would wake up breathless and empty. I do not have that dream so much anymore.
I tell myself ....I must slow down, not rush.
I have accepted Australia as the country I live in and I can honestly say I absolutely love it, it's incredible beauty and vastness are like no other, but a large portion of me will always remain in my country of birth.
I try and forget my regrets, they will not create my future.
I have discovered art...my photography gives me a satisfaction that goes beyond what I can explain. I enjoy, actually love, selling my photographic prints, this has given me a new confidence and boldness. You can browse my gallery here, Prints for sale
I love God and His church. The spiritual part of my life is my daily bread.
I guess pure contentment will not come to me until I get to heaven, but I make the most of every day, I enjoy being me, I hate growing old, I love my children, grandchildren and husband.
Now that I live in the city I long for the country, the peace and quiet and romanticism of the life I left behind.
I still continue to learn and grow in this complex thing called life,
Did all my dreams come true.....no....but if you redefine them with a different set of values...well yes...mostly.
Am I happy...yes!