You see, we have been busy concocting a plan... a wild and wondrous plan. It goes a little like this:
Pack up our house.
Pack up our family.
Fly across the ocean.
Get on board a boat.
Travel to an island.
Find a house by the ocean/in a forest/in a big garden.
Set up our house.
Grow plants, children and adventure.
So it sounds bonkers. BONKERS, I know, and like a total dream.
But quite unbelievably, it's all about to come true.
It's amazing for me to think that just eight weeks ago it wasn't even in our minds. I was going about washing the spuds, stretching my legs in pilates, clicking and dragging in photoshop or checking my email thinking "here is my life, this is what I do, and these are the familiar steps we will follow into the future - plod plod plod".
Don't get me wrong, plodding is very nice most of the time - I do like to plod. I am a dreamer, but I am also a "change? What? change NOW? Are you crazy? No way! Screeeech!" kind of girl. I like plodding about in my ugg boots, making bread, illustrating a bit here and there, tucking my kids into bed with a kiss on the nose, but I also spend ridiculous amounts of time (as regular readers of loobylu might have noticed) thinking that there is some other kind of life for us out there. One that I would have plotted out as a fourteen year old, or even a seventeen year old - or even a 23 year old. One filled with wonder and surprise.
This was on my mind one quiet evening, while I sat at my computer in my ugg boots, and Google presented me with an alternative reality.
Phil had just returned from a work trip feeling good having been out walking in the world. We had one of those conversations that we have from time to time while washing the dishes after the kids are in bed - you know the one: "We could be anywhere - so why are we here? Life's so short. Why aren't we living in Byron Bay? Why aren't we living on a mountain top? Why aren't we building that eco-house in the woods? Why aren't we doing any of the things we thought we might one day, because you know, we'd better hurry up with that, time might run out - because 'one day' is sort of right now...".
And quietly we acknowledged that it simply came down to that big burly, bugger of a word - "fear". Fear of making a mistake, of taking a risk, of missing my parents, of losing our friends, of screwing up the kids, of losing all our money and any prospect of making any more, of it being less than what we hoped, of being too idealistic and not grown up enough.
Eventually we were going to have to come to the conclusion that all of those totally fabricated concerns are kind of a lame reason not to do something new. Maybe it is a risk. Maybe all of those things might happen. Maybe maybe maybe. I don't want to be 80 and wish I had done something and think "well, I was too scared and I missed that totally bonkers adventure - and it might have been awesome."
Luckily we are at stage in our lives when things are flexible enough with work and children that we can consider such a big upheaval. In so many ways it would be a shame not to take advantage of our opportunities. The idea to be closer to Phil's work, closer to Phil's family, and the idea that we should have an enormous adventure started to develop.
So as I said, I sat down at my computer in my ugg boots. All I did was google a very simple fantasy, adventure scenario and it (plus so much more) was presented to me: a tiny island in British Columbia full of artists, hippies, ocean, forests, organic farms, markets... The more I looked and explored, the more amazing and right it all seemed. Everyone I emailed or spoke to who knew anything about this place said "it's a fabulous spot." Everything I could think of that we might need seemed to be right there. Sensible things: Hospitals? Check. Choice of schools? Check. Not too cold? Check! No drought? Check. High speed internet connection? Check. And the indulgent, extra things: Beautiful scenery? Abundant! Interesting, like-minded people? Check. Interesting houses? Check. Close enough to big cities for big-city adventures and big-city friends? Not too far at all. Right down to the little things: Fresh french macarons? Check. Sushi? Fresh daily. Quilt/yarn shop? Check. Good soil for vegies? Check. This has to be an adventure with comforts after all! Everything I have read about it makes it seem as though it's The Land of Delights at the top of the Faraway Tree.
Last week (because the universe has obviously decided to help us out with our mad plan) we set out on a reconnaissance mission - boarded several planes and a boat and found ourselves right in the middle of this Land of Delights - and it was almost completely as I had hoped.
We found a house in a forest on a mountain with a view of a lake and the sea and the mountains beyond, (and the sparkling lights of distant North Vancouver at night). We enrolled AJ in a school, and we met internet friends and made new ones (small island = enthusiastically friendly people) and now we have come home to pack up our house and organise ourselves and then we head off again in August.
There will be much to miss about Australia - friends and family being the biggest things for me - but I keep telling myself that we still need to try this, as I have always imagined that this is the stuff of which life is made. Right?
PS. The illustration? Yes! Bears! They might be one of the very few drawbacks. I know googling bears is just like someone moving to Australia googling poisonous spiders, snakes and sharks. I know that I am being silly, but seriously - when you read a website from the local area where you are looking which says "if attacked by a Grizzly bear, protect your head and play dead" I do get just a little nervous. Fortunately it seems grizzly bears are not the bears which turn up on our magical island - mostly it seems to be the very occasional black bear and "black bears are more afraid of you than you are afraid of them" is a very comforting statement. Somewhere in a forest right now, a bear is reading Loobylu and seeing that we are coming to stay and it's sweating bullets.