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Friday, November 02, 2007


It's no secret we've been in a tough position for the past year and a half with a depressed real estate market there and a booming market here along with the ever-strengthening Australian dollar. My love/hate relationship with the place -- love the country, hate the government -- is also no secret. Jorge has never been able to get his skills properly recognized, though they were enough to allow us entry initially, and has had to make do with a number of blue collar jobs which barely pay the rent here plus two mortgages, taxes, and insurance back in Florida. It's been incredibly frustrating, but when you can't control your destiny, you make the best of it and go on.

The kids, even though they are back in school, and loving it, much to my chagrin, are doing well, excelling at their studies and participating in all kinds of enriching projects. Unlike in the States, extracurricular activities here are really meant to benefit the child, not just pad a college application, and I am confident that at this rate, my girls could easily attain whatever goals they set for themselves without fierce competition for limited spots in the best colleges. See, the thing is, here the graduating classes are substantially smaller than the incoming grade, and not because they are dropping out, but because vocational options are introduced early on and many students choose that path, becoming skilled workers able to earn relatively high wages. The students who make it all the way through Grade 12 are committed to academics, given a broad range of subjects to pursue, and have some fantastic opportunities available to them. The student leaders, a good proportion of the class, really are an impressive lot. We saw this last year and again this year at the high school's annual presentation night (where Sarabelle performed with the orchestra, and received a merit award for the second year in a row.) Being in a small school, we also saw a real bond between the entire student body, for the most part, a truly good group of kids. The advantage is with fewer classmates there is far less competition, and for those that are interested the sky's the limit. Considering my girls' present careers interests (which change wildly from week to week), if we were back in Florida they would have a long, hard road ahead of them, and then may never even come close to realizing their plans with huge number of challengers. Here they have real opportunity.

And that's primarily why we made this move. For the kids' future. We haven't achieved our goal of living on a farm and learning to feed ourselves yet, but we have at least been able to control our destiny to the point that we achieved our goal of providing a safer, cleaner, simpler lifestyle and environment for them.

Jorge is going to have to go back to Florida again. For how long we don't know exactly, but long enough at least to make some good money and try to force some activity on our properties, long enough to get us into a position where we can control our destiny again. He leaves in a week. We have tentatively agreed on a return date for me and the girls around the middle of the next school year because to get everything wrapped up here by Christmas holiday is too much; that seemed like the most logical and realistic break. I'm not happy with that. I'm hoping something will change within that time allowing him to come back and resume life here.

I remember being pulled out of my huge South Florida high school a third of the way through Junior year (for my own good) and then being pulled away from my very small Massachusetts girls' school immediately after graduation without being able to say goodbye or even exchange addresses with my close-knit classmates. I haven't forgiven my parents for that after all these years. My number one goal as a mother was not to suffer the relationship I had with my mother. Sarabelle, though she agrees in her head that we need to due what's necessary, will resent it deeply in her heart. Jorge doesn't seem to think it will be much of a problem but then he does not have my experience. And when I saw the Grade 12 kids up there the other night, I was really sad, because Sarabelle will miss out not only on that bond and experience with her classmates, but on a bright, easily attainable future.

It does not help then to hear that family members are implying that Jorge should "be a man" and bring his family home, or suggest it was a foolish decision to drag our family to the other side of the planet without any money or security. Going back to Florida may be a necessity but how insulting, infuriating, and mean-spirited that their desires should come before my children's best interests. Poor Jorge is caught in the middle and just wants us to agree to support him no matter what decision he makes. He knows this will be a tough one.

I am able but not willing.


Writing and Living said...

I'm sorry you're going through this. I hope things work out well.

KathyJo said...

So sorry, L. :( We've dealt with idiot family members who think they know better than us about what's best for our family. Now, after ignoring them and getting through to where we want to be (mostly), some act as if it was their idea all along. Others, of course, are still just interfering idiots. Thankfully, they don't live nearby.

Will it offend you if I say you'll be in our prayers? If so, just know we'll be thinking of you and hoping for the best.

L said...

Thanks guys. And no KathyJo, I don't mind. Every bit helps.

Melissa B said...

I'm so sorry. The Florida real estate market is really struggling. Do you have links to your properties? One was on Gasparilla wasn't it? I hope everything can be worked out. Personally, I've always admired your move. I'm still trying to convince my husband and children to sell everything and live on a sailboat. Ten years and no luck so far.

Becky said...

Who said, what doesn't kill you makes you stronger?

And family can be some of the worst fools there are. Ignore them, especially because you know they don't your kids' interests at heart.

Your kids will look back on your Australian stay, however long it turns out to be, as a wonderful magical period in their childhood and lives. Not to mention part of the amazing foundation you and Jorge have given them. How many kids today can say that?