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The water pipe and other big feelings

Today is a month until ‘wheels up’ as we’re calling it. Arthur is still flat out trying to finish things at TAFES and working out what he will need to let go of, but I stopped my commitments weeks ago, in order to mental load this transition for our family and give attention to our family’s emotional temperature. So I am living in that transition space all day, every day. It is not a fun space.

There is lots of think about during this time, but, somehow not that much to do. A lot of things will happen in a rush at the end, when we no longer need things like beds and frypans, so people can come pick them up.

Yet, these days are still busy for me. There are lots of errands to run. They never take 20 minutes, or half a day. Sometimes they take 3 days. It’s a lot of juggling and changing plans; it feels hectic. But there’s also a lot of empty time in there, driving to the place that doesn’t have the thing I’m looking for, or waiting for that tradie to show up.

My days feel both full and empty at the moment, emotionally intense and practically tedious. Even if I have a highly productive day, I don’t feel good about it. Mostly I just feel sad and confused.

Some of the sadness is easy to pinpoint; there are many people we will miss and our hearts break as we prepare to say goodbye.

But, on the other hand, I don’t feel sad about fixing the same water pipe we had fixed 6 weeks ago because it’s broken again – when it comes to things like that, I feel like ‘wheels up’ can’t come soon enough and I’ll be relieved to be done with that stupid pipe! On some things, I am just done. And yet, I don’t want to leave. I hate that stupid pipe and I hate calling the tradie and dealing with him (even though he’s a super nice young chap) and yet, I don’t want to leave that stupid pipe because it is part of our life here and I don’t want to leave our life here. So I have big and confusing feelings about… a water pipe. Which is one of a thousand other things.

On our last home assignment, I helped the boys to draw things that we love and dislike about our life in Tanzania and things that we love and dislike about life in Australia. What struck me was how much fuller the Tanzania list was than the Australian list – on both sides, both love and dislike. Our life in Tanzania is rich and complicated and so, they had a lot to say about it. Australian life, on the other hand, seemed kind of anaemic. There just wasn’t the same depth and breadth to reflect on.

We don’t have big, confusing feelings about leaving Tanzania because life is so good here. We have big confusing feelings about leaving Tanzania because of the richness of our experiences, both good and bad.

I’m tired of feeling confused; I’m weakened by heartbreak. And so, I just want this month to be over. I want to skip over it and just get on the plane, to not have to do this hard thing, to not have to slog through the tedium and the emotions and the endless admin.

But then, I think about what it will feel like to step off the plane, to know that that’s it, our time in Tanzania is over, it’s in the past. Though we have been shaped by Tanzania and will bring all that we have learned with us to Australia, this season will be done for now. We will no longer live in Tanzania. And my heart feels like lead and I suddenly want to stretch out this month as long as possible. They say when you repatriate that your body reaches your destination months before your heart does.

At the end of the day as we say our prayers, a recurring one for Elliot is, ‘Please God help me with all my big feelings.’ Many of them he can’t articulate; it’s just that there’s a lot there and it’s confusing and heavy. I think this is such a wise prayer and I’ve made it my own too.

Categories: Tanzania Written by Tamie

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Tamie Davis

Tamie Davis is an Aussie living in Tanzania, writing at

1 reply

  1. Thanks for sharing honestly. Living in Cambodia I get that complicated feeling of love for a place and being over it at the same time. As you share I can anticipate us having this same experience when we decide to head back. Praying for you and the fam in this big feelings space.

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