Growing up mixed race, in London in the 90’s, the word ‘belonging’ was one that was always present… Moving to Australia with my husband and children was no different!
Some people have asked me how I feel about leaving my family and moving to the other side of the world. I have different feelings each time I am asked, but wanted to capture some of my current feelings down in a blog. This will allow me to share these thoughts and feelings with friends and family and will also provide me with a reflection space.
I miss my dad, my brother and my friends (who I consider my family). I miss knowing that they are round the corner, or that we can just meet up for a play date with the children and/or go for a night out. Its a weird feeling knowing you only have one friend in your country of residence (she is in Melbourne, so not even super close). Of course Ahmed is my friend, my best friend… But its a different and beautiful type of friendship we have.
I am (without blowing my own trumpet), really good at staying in touch with people that I love and that want to also stay in touch with me. I have actually spoken with my dad quite a lot and we ‘Face Time’ every Sunday, when I was in England we could go 3-4 weeks without speaking or seeing each other.
I have also spoken with my two female best friends (Lena and Sarah) in our group chat, pretty much daily; but we were always really good at staying in touch anyway. I have also spoken with my soul sister Laura pretty much weekly and my second mum Wendy pretty much weekly. We are so fortunate with technology; it makes the world feel like a much smaller place and makes it easier to stay in touch. Lena, Sarah and I have been friends since we were 14 years old and we met in school. We have had our ups and downs over the years, but at 37, with two children each, we are probably at the best stages of our life and have a true, life long bond. Our lives have taken us down such different but similar paths; its truly amazing… I have a 18 year old, Sarah has a new born and we have kids in between these two ages. That should go some what towards showing how our lives have been so different but so similar.
Ladies, I hope you are saving for our Dubai holiday in 2021…
I (we) have also spoken with Ahmed’s brother, wife and children weekly. I consider them my friends; they are my friends and my family.
I have also gatecrashed my daughters daily conversations with her boyfriend. He too is my friend, he has been in our lives for 2 years, he is defiantly a keeper, such a nice young man.
I have spoken with my two male best friends (Uncle Freddie and Uncle David) quite a lot since being here. One more than the other as the other is savage at times (lol). One (you know who you are), is having a hard time, because we didn’t actually ‘say goodbye’. I keep telling him its not goodbye, its see you later lol… We have known each other for 27 years, were friends since primary school (10 years old); legend has it that I actually taught him English.
We have one of those friendships where we don’t see each other everyday, sometimes we go months without seeing each other, then we will see each other or talk nearly every day for a few months then back to radio silence. It was during one of these periods of radio silence that I moved to Australia. He also has some life changing things going on, you might recognize his face from TV.
I met my other male bestie in 2015 when working together at Southwark Council.
Do I have something on my face; is our insider joke… we just clicked straight away, we have the same type of sense of humor and are both Aries, so watch out when we are together lol.
Its weird not having our day to day chats/jokes. We have more of a day to day interaction/friendship. We would talk for hours on the phone putting the ‘world to rights’ and talking about youth work, youth work principles and projects we should consider setting up to help guide young people to positive outcomes.
Since arriving in Australia, the only thing I have found difficult this far is not having any friends close by that I can meet up with or jump on the phone and talk with. I know I can call them and it will be like old times and like I am just down the road, I just need to wait until a specific time of day because of the time difference. My friendships are so important to me and I didn’t realise until moving here how much they define so much of who I am.
I know once we are settled in Canberra and working, I will make friends and have more opportunities to socialize outside of my family; its just hard at times. Equally, its a lot of pressure to put on a spouse, them being your only friend and having to fill up all of your batteries.
A wise lady once told me that people have batteries, one for friends, one for love, one for hobbies, one for friendships, one for work etc… if one of those batteries start to die, it can impact your overall well being. I feel like my friendship batteries are at 90% so I am aware I need to start looking for a charger. I know my friends are there and our bond will always be there, its more the general day to day interactions and independence having a wider friendship group gives you that I am missing.
Moving to the other side of the world comes with a weird set of emotions. Whilst I miss my friends, dad and my brother, I have never felt a better sense of belonging since living with my mum and one of my brothers, growing up. Ahmed’s family (my family) really are a bunch of amazing people! They have made me feel so welcomed and part of the family. It has made me think about how welcoming I can be with our children’s partners in the coming years and I am able to practice now with our daughters boyfriend.
It is hard to put into words how welcome I have been made to feel; it is just that… a feeling. I feel like I have come home.
NB: this blog was first drafted in March 2019 when in Brisbane. A lot of my thoughts and feelings are the same.
Thank you for reading this far and keeping up with the Jalloh family.
Peace, love and happiness.