I've started doing it again - started researching real estate elsewhere, as I was doing so frequently in Brussels for L---. Germany, Catalonia and southern Italy to be exact. You've heard all my cultural problems with Australia and they don't need repeating; personally I'm as bored of them as I am by Australians at this point. What has really turned my head lately and got me combing over Art Nouveau penthouses in Berlin and 16th century palace rooms in Naples and sea views in Barcelona and whatnot is the financial angle.
I've been on and on about how expensive Australia is compared with everywhere else (besides Singapore, but Singapore has an excuse!) but somehow it's only in the last week that it's fully sunk in that if our plans work out and if there are no major shifts in global economic trends (two pretty big ifs, no doubt), in five or six years we'll be quite wealthy by European standards but still banging along in the worried section of the middle class by Australian standards.
And if our plans don't work out and unless there's a major shift in international economic trends (two, frankly, even bigger ifs; I think I'd be pretty hard for my firm to dispense with; the F-word's qualifications, which I doubt anybody else in a two-hour radius is shopping around, are getting him a lot of casual teaching work; and call me a blinkered economist but my professional research isn't really indicating that things are going to stop being as they are for a good few years in many respects) we simply won't be able to afford to live here.
In short, this place, which I had been planning to make our home forever, seems to be our Dubai. Luckily it's a Dubai crawling with intense natural beauty, even if that natural beauty is frequently scarred by open pit mining astonishingly close to where people live; and it's a Dubai where we won't get arrested or have our passports taken away for fucking on one of the splendid beaches or for having a drink with friends. And it's a Dubai where I have a massive garden and mature fruit trees and a year-round growing season. It's a pretty fucking phenomenal Dubai, in short. But a Dubai it is.
There is one final massive fucking variable in the mix, of course, and that is what will happen to our brains when we make babies, and I can't think of how I'm going to be when that happens. I can already see pluses and minuses: I don't want them growing up monolingual, with no second-language education, as they would here. In the Australian cities we could get them into a good language programme, but we can't afford to live in an Australian city - it would be madness to choose to live somewhere as expensive as even Brisbane (the cheapest) when we have the option of moving back to Europe; in Brisbane we could only afford to live in a high-rise or a cookie cutter suburb as effectively isolated in some ways as L--- and a fuckload uglier and colder; in Europe we could afford a house with a garden in a city.
But one of the reasons I left Europe is because I don't want my children growing up learning everything by rote and being left with the terrible synthetic abilities of your typical Italian or French person. So now I'm researching broader European pedagogy too . . . but really, I'll have no idea what's going on with how I feel about where I want to raise children until I have the children, and get to know them.
And then there's my family, of course. Taking children to visit them from Europe will be pricey . . . taking children to visit them from Australia, once they pass the magic sit-in-my-lap age, will be the cost of a new car. That might be the deal breaker, especially since I can't stand the F-word's extended family, except for a few lovely exceptions, and neither can the F-word, he's discovered.
And sometimes I reckon I'm just a malcontent who has decided her itchy feet aren't a problem. And you know what, I'm alright with that. And I think so far we've turned that handicap into an asset. Every move I've made since ditching North Bay in disgust fourteen years ago has worked out for me in some 'practical' sense that I've inherited from all those British bankers and lawyers in my gene pool, who would never have allowed me to swan off to check out in Nepal with all the Israeli draft dodgers, or to join a cult in India, and who forced me into grad school in Paris when I decided to just hang around there screwing Bluebeard - no grand-daughter, etc., of theirs was going to be some lady-gigolo clinging to a rich Swiss guy, idly watching her developmental years pass her by. In short, all of this globe trotting might just be me. It might just be who I am; and possibly, psychologically speaking, I'm not looking for a "forever" home, but just want to keep exploring, like the farfallone men in my Italian gene pool. I might just be a person who doesn't have the mental equipment to settle down in the same place for sixty years.
And thank god, I'm with a man with the same tendencies. The F-word's moves have also been practical and smart as well as, you know, artsy-fartsy, and his chronically itchy feet are itching once more. I think if we can figure out how to extend that practicality to take our children's needs into account, we can do a good job of whatever we do.
Anyways, we're talking YEARS before we move, if the plans work out. So I really need to stop looking at real estate sites all the damn time. Itchy feet are fine but enjoying the present for the present is even finer.