I anticipated a wall. My husband and I have moved enough times, gone through enough travel and poverty and loneliness, that we knew to expect a breaking point. We knew it was coming but, maybe because we’ve done it all before, were a bit casual about our periodic malaise.

We only sort-of miss our lives back home. We keep up with friends and family via social media and video chats. We can even make international phone calls with our Optus cell plans here. My mother went through surgery, and I was able to track it and sleep easy knowing that she was fine the whole time. We missed certain things, but not enough to question being here. It was our normal.

But when we got the message that something was wrong with our dogs, we were hit by a wall of helplessness and homesickness that we did not see coming. Without spilling too much detail publicly (it’s still a source of great confusion and pain), I can say that the person we left them with was out of town and there was an incident. A lot was muddled because information was coming through an unreliable roommate to my out-of-town friend then across the world to me. Leave it at the message we heard One of your dogs may be injured, they are locked in a bathroom, everyone there is freaking out. 

Not the message you want to hear at 9am. On a holiday. When you are completely unable to help. Or get clear information/straight answers. And already having left questioning whether this was the best place to leave your beloved pets.

We put out the alert-calls. Please help! Our dogs may be in danger. Can anyone go get them? It would have been around 10pm back home. And our dogs are BIG.  As sweet as they are, it takes a hell of a commitment to welcome 200 pounds of somebody-else’s animals into your home.

Fortunately, I heard back almost immediately from my biological father’s girlfriend. They could take them… but it would take a few days. It didn’t feel like we had that kind of time.

So- while the church near our house played host to happy families in their pastel best, rolling boiled eggs across the lawn- we fretted. We cried (okay, I cried, B kept it together), and regretted coming here, feeling we had abandoned two members of our family to some uncertain darkened bathroom fate back home. Everyone we knew was asleep in North Carolina. Our dogs were frightened and confused and- maybe, as one version of the story went- “covered in blood and possibly injured.” All of this seemed stupid and harmful and pointless.

We just wanted to be there. The shared sentiment was that none of this ever would have happened if we had just stayed home. It has all been too hard. And maybe we don’t belong here after all.

By evening (early morning there), we had found someone to pick them up and give temporary shelter until my family could come get them. It wasn’t until we got word that they had been retrieved, and were on their way to a safe place, that we finally allowed ourselves to fall into bed. The sleep was deep, but not restful.

And the kookaburra outside our window seemed to wake extra early to laugh us awake. I wanted to wring his neck.

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