Monthly Archives: October 2013

A new mindset

I’ve been thinking alot lately about the fact that we’re applying for green-cards so in theory we are making the US our permanent home.

But what does “home” mean? Is it a location? An emotion? A mindset?

Is it an identity derived from all of the above?

Of course nowhere is really home if we remain in the America’s Cup but that aside, for the foreseeable future & should we continue pursuing our current goals, we will base ourselves here.

In all honesty, at this stage, I’m thrilled about it – I love it here, I really do.

We have a great lifestyle: we have made incredible friends – friends I couldn’t be without now (although I wish I could transport a few here with me sadly); we are part of the community.

And this is an amazing place to grow up with all it has to offer – the outdoors on one side & a dynamic city on the other.

As far as the kids are concerned, this is all they know. They don’t remember New Zealand in anything more than a holiday context. They even have pseudo-American accents.

All this aside, though, transitioning into a state of permanence here is quite a complex matter it turns out.

And I don’t mean legally, but emotionally:

 

I am not only happy we’re staying but I’m also relieved. Part of me was dreading the next move – not only the logistics, but the ripping of kids from one life to another.

And now the next move is off the cards we’ve recently decided, should things align, we’d like to buy our first house here too – love to really commit.

Yet even as I write this, I have this internally rotating Rubik Cube of fear (it’s never easy to solve the puzzle of why & what to do with it). It twists over every-time I mention the word “buy”…. it’s just so permanent.

It’s so grown up. It’s what “other people” do.

Do I want to commit? (… By the way I had less trouble committing to having children than to buying a house – you can take them with you – but alas, not being snails, a house remains where you purchase it).

Not only does the debt scare the bejesus out of me, but so does the concept of vanilla suburban life.

And I am the epitome of vanilla suburban life by the way – I do not mean this as an insult.

This is more the acknowledgment that deep down, a part of me loves (despite my bitter cynicism & embracing of the Bay Area as mentioned above) our nomadic life, the chance of a new place to discover, to come together as a family unit for the next adventure. To start again.

The perfectionist in me always wants to start again – hoping this time I’ll get everything just right.

And add to this another dynamic: Why is it that internally I feel neither a New Zealander nor am I anywhere near an American?

Obviously, I am more Kiwi than American, yet I don’t identify with it as much as I used to.

And I can’t figure out if that is because there have been a range of places we’ve lived that have diluted that nationalistic side that might have remained had I less foreign influences disturbing it….

Or is there a part of me that does not wish to embrace my “kiwi-ness” anymore?

Do I resent that we cannot live there as we do here? That I could never make a “success” (by whose definition?) of my life as an adult there like everyone else seems to have?

I’m confused by a myriad of emotions surrounding this new permanence we are establishing here & as I mull it over, I know it deserves more attention.

I cannot simply continue with one slightly bitter foot there & one here.

What is with that?

I am hoping that being honest with my confusion over where I belong & how I feel about this conflict in itself, might allow me to better shape my understanding of my identity.

New Zealand is amazing, I miss my friends & family there so much it hurts some days. But the fact is, I don’t wish to return at this stage.

Is that disloyal? Does everyone that leaves New Zealand have the ultimate goal that “home” is where they wish to work their way back to?

I know I had this perspective back in 2004 – almost 10 years ago now, when I moved overseas the first time.

But I’m not sure that’s the case for me any longer…. which is ok actually.

But why do I still feel fearful about putting down roots here nor clear about why New Zealand no longer represents this almost omnipotent image of “home”.

Something to ponder.

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America’s Cup 2013

Prizegiving 2013

I started this blog way back before Cup time was even on the horizon.

It was partly a means of a creative outlet & partly a means of me documenting our life within the world of America’s Cup. I had intended that I would blog about life in general & then when the Cup arrived, give a blow-by-blow of the experience from the perspective of the families involved.

As for us, it is a lifestyle – although new to it in some ways (only 7 years in), it’s all our kids have known & life before it has become hazy – what on earth did we focus on before winning a boat race?

Where we live, how long we live there & where we move to next are all defined by the path of the America’s Cup (see “About Me” for more) event itself.

Dock out September 7th 2013

Dock out September 7th 2013

Although this is not my first, the Cup that has just been was something I most definitely underestimated. In no way did I anticipate the degree of stress or range of emotions that would be tossed about within all of us.

And so my “blow-by-blow” account did not eventuate.

In fact, as I posted previously, keeping the kids alive was my first goal (Fed? check. Clean-ish? Check. Buckled in? Well, in the car at all? Check – you get the idea.).

Getting the trash out on Wednesdays was my next priority.

Everything else kind of worked itself out around those two things.

Or it didn’t.

September 7th & the 34th America’s Cup did not begin as we hoped. We did not kick start it with a series of strong wins.

Kevin & boys first day of racing

Kevin & boys first day of racing

In fact we lost most of our beginning races & quickly got to the point where team New Zealand had only one race to win. One race until they would be taking the prized trophy back to New Zealand.

On top of that state, we still had to win 11 races to their 9 – the result of a jury decision regarding a cheating scandal in the World Series.

At this stage, I clearly remember coming home after a day of racing & going about the usual routine of getting kids dinner, and then just bursting into tears.

At the kitchen counter, holding a piece of broccoli.

It’s a boat race I kept telling myself, get over it. But it’s also our whole life & has been for 7 years.

I’ve watched Kevin give all of himself to this campaign for the past 3 years.

By this particular day he’d not had a day off for months. None of us had really seen him for more than a few minutes at a time. Every moment felt precious & we were all reaching our limits.

I had thought being here & part of it would be better than the previous Cup (33rd) where Kevin spent the final 3 months in Valencia whilst I stayed home in New Zealand with a toddler & a 5 week old baby.

But on this particular day I decided the distance might have actually made the grief more bearable & less tangible.

It might have simply become “that race that’s always in the news right now”.

Not our lives.

So many in Oracle Team USA ( & in all teams, I have no doubt) are incredibly, incredibly dedicated as well as talented. Many are the best in the world at what they do. They give so much of themselves, at the cost of personal lives sometimes, all to make the boat go faster.

And as the points table added up for Team New Zealand, watching the our teams dreams & ambitions come crashing down almost as crushingly as when we capsized, was actually breaking me in ways I never anticipated.

I felt like I was going through a process of grief; this was a loss on a magnitude I was not prepared for.

Too often I had considered it “just a boat race” & not considered it the personal journey it turns out it has been.

All the usual symptoms of grief descended – bad sleep, distraction, emotions close to boiling point. I felt depressed & antisocial & didn’t cope well with the multitude of questions coming our way.

People (other than close friends) wanted to know “what’s gone so wrong?” & “how could this happen?”. And being on the design team, Kevin was a prime target.

By now (it took a looong time admittedly), I have accustomed myself to the fact that most people, upon meeting, are more interested in Kevin than me. They talk more to him (initially at least) as what he does is different & interesting to them.

But during the Cup, especially as it dragged itself out, this scenario intensified. At one point, I actually felt like the hired help – not the other part of our team. I felt like I had morphed into some sort of maid-nanny combo. I was just the employee making sure everything ticked over.

But then – finally – weeks into racing – we won. There was release at last.

Prizegiving 2013

“By some miracle” is what I want to say, but actually it was by sheer hard work & dedication. There was no miracle – this was pure skill & team.  Our boys pulled it off & won the Cup.

The roller coaster rocketed upward from it’s previous spiral & suddenly I could breathe again.

The grief never reached it’s cyclical end, “the final stage” (acceptance?), as there was no end.

The day of, the day after & still today it is all surreal. It feels like it never happened.

Funny that isn’t it? It is all consuming; dynamics change, roles change – on every single level for weeks on end. And then it stops. And life picks up like nothing happened.

The kids still need to be picked up; taken to sport; helped with homework; have their teeth brushed.

Life goes on. But we won.

And suddenly “we” (me only by association) are heroes.

Kevin & Ethan at the ceremony before going on stage

Kevin & Ethan at the ceremony before going on stage

Oddly enough, the interrogations got worse after the Cup. The maid-nanny scenario intensified when suddenly Kevin was actually around for the first time in months, as then people stopped even seeing me & just flocked to him. It was like I didn’t exist.

But alright, I admit it, despite my bitter tone, I am thrilled for him (just don’t tell him that. Seriously.) He deserves to feel proud; to feel successful; to talk about what the team achieved. This was not something they got lucky with. They worked at this. Hard.

But what I also felt more intensely than I (once again) could have anticipated, was a feeling of loss on behalf of Team New Zealand. Even more so initially than the happiness & relief almost.

Having been on the brink of the end ourselves, I have an inkling of the loss they may be feeling.

Team New Zealand were amazing. They worked so hard; they sailed beautifully & they did nothing especially wrong. It is frustrating there cannot be two winners.

But sadly in this game, as the old saying in America’s Cup goes “There is no second”.

Team New Zealand were & will again be a force to be reckoned with – no matter who the opponent may be in the future.

I hope that this comes to be the beginning of their next challenge & success rather than the beginning of the end.

And I hope our next challenge is one I can be posting about before long too.

Our family & good friends - another design family - at the conclusion of the prizegiving

Our family & good friends – another design family – at the conclusion of the prizegiving

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…And I’m back!

Ok, so I was drowning the last few months & have achieved very little beyond: keeping my kids alive… and making sure the trash is out on Wednesdays.

Seriously. That’s about it.

And whilst I composed multiple posts in my head… clearly none eventuated.

And while I could try to cover the past six or so months now, in categorized post-posts. I’m confident I can sum up life more efficiently.

Summer:

Summer was – well long & cold. So many movies portray the American summer vacation as just like on the movie Grease – rolling waves gently lapping the beach, long summer nights, good-looking, tanned people who manage to pull off ultra tight pants (‘cos it’s summer?).

But Grease ,as far as I know, was not set in northern California where almost all of July is foggy, cold & even misty.

I am highly confident I can self diagnose S.A.D (Seasonal-Affective Disorder).

I am also highly confident I can pinpoint summer clearly by our bank balance – summer camp & occasional babysitting (a.k.a sanity time for both the kids & myself) for the almost 3 months of no school made a serious dent.

Eventually summer warmed up. Right before school began. Naturally.

That’s when pool action set in, trips to the beach, hikes etc.

And then school began. The kids were SO excited.

Until Day Two: “What?! School? Again?!”

And then America’s Cup began.

Ah – the America’s Cup. The grand finale of summer. That’s been a real doozy.

Stay tuned.

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