It’s now June 2010, and Nook and I have spent a week with some very good friends of mine in Miami. We’re both firmly cemented in the direction that our life and future is going to take. We know we want to be together, forever, but we have yet to work out some of those details which will make this possible.
The decision to accept a job on the other side of the planet was a vast one for me. Further still was the vastness of the fact that Nook had never been to Australia, and she was willing to take this massive leap of faith on just that, faith. As she tells it: “I know I want to be with you, and I don’t care where that has to be. I don’t want to lose you from my life again.”
Nook and I are both quite logical planners for many aspects of our lives. Not to extremes, mind you, we’re just both aware that actions have consequences and whilst you can’t account for them all, you can at least do your best to be prepared. Preparing to merge two households, two lives, from across two countries, two continents into an entirely new environment, well, vast.
Negotiations with my employer to be were all but concluded in May, but we were now starting to go through some of the .. tedious .. matters of being hired at a large corporation. There were procedures to follows, forms to fill out, organisations to perform background checks, you name it, it pretty much all had to be done. Plus the utter joy of working with a government’s immigration department to get the right stamps and permits to enter and live somewhere new.
Perhaps in an ironic twist of fate, all of this was made that much more complicated by the fact that my new employer was just cutting over to an all new HR system, and I was the first to go through the new hiring process, complete with new outsourced companies to manage the process and its many tendrils.
I mention all this for a simple reason.
There is a list of life stressors which psychologists have come to know as significant trigger events to stress response in most humans. You can imagine the sorts of things on the list -- marriage, death, divorce, moving, new jobs, new houses. The things that tend to bring out either the best in people (in terms of their coping strategies) or the worst (lack thereof).
Thankfully, I’ve moved around the world a few times, so some of this stress was familiar to me. But this time there was a new variable: Timezones. Australia being so far ahead of GMT meant that the working day really was only about an hour when I first woke up in the morning. If I was lucky.
As I mentioned previously, with Nook so many hours behind me, and her own work schedule being slightly insane, I found myself sleeping less and less, mostly so I could stay up late to chat to her on her way home from work, or, get up extra early so I could talk to her last thing before she went to sleep at night.
Now with the Australian time zone and business hours factor, things were getting untenable.
I would wake up several times during the night, once about every half hour, to check my NookMail, as well as to check my AussieMail - was there something needed for the job, for the visa, was there another form to fill out, a document to send in. I knew that if I had such an email and I did not immediately wake up to deal with it, it would be another full day before anything would happen, and time was, increasingly, of the essence.
Resigning from my current job was not an option until I had the paperwork for the new job in my hands, and that couldn’t happen until the plethora of bureaucratic dominoes all had their day of toppling.
Sleep was a casualty of this stressful time, and, looking back on those months (!) I honestly don’t know how I made it through, save for the motivation of Nook and I hopefully being united, under one roof, in one country, on one continent.
It’s almost July!
In early May the anticipation was that “a week after our meeting” my new boss would have the contract in hand, and he would FedEx it to me. May turned to June. June turned to July. There was a lot happening in July, and I admit I was getting somewhat anxious to get some traction for the future.
Nook too was starting to ask about timing, and rightly so. The lease on her flat was up in December, and we had learned earlier that for her to exit before then would cost us about two months rent as a notice period for exiting before the termination date.
She also had her two jobs, and the closer that she and I got, the more her bosses started to wonder how much longer she’d stick around. She had to be cagey on that front..until plans were formalised, there was no point in rocking any employer boats.
But the time was coming when “new hardware” would be present upon Nook’s hand and once that was done, the really tough questions would need to be answered.
The same was true on my end. I knew that at some point soon I was going to have to have a chat with my employer and let them know about my impending departure. As I was still waiting for the paperwork to make that chat possible, I had to do my best not to get involved with too many projects which were going to be long term in nature. I took my professional responsibility extremely seriously and wouldn’t have felt right committing to projects for November or December with the full expectation that I’d be long gone by then.
Another great unknown was how much notice period I would have to give, and how much my employers would like to get out of me. According to my contract, it was one calendar month. However, my work was unique within the organisation, and as I wanted to make things as painless as possible, I was willing to extend that, within reason, so long as an agreement could be worked out that made everyone happy. Sadly, they took gross and illegal advantage of the situation in the end, but, that’s another story...
There were many things being juggled by both of us, and we were both so very keen to move on.
July was just a few days away. Everything, and in some ways nothing, was about to change.