20 May 2012

Endings and beginnings

It was only in September, 1983 that I knew for certain that Susan and I were committed to New Zealand for life.

It was in September of that year that I had confirmed from Ross Jackson in New Zealand that the company he worked for, called Interactive Applications Ltd (IAL), was prepared definitely to offer me a job - with practically an open-ended start date.  I talked with Sue at the time, and asked her what she thought we should do.  I said - what seemed obvious to me - that she understood, I trusted, that this would be a one-way move.  I was forty-one years old at the time.  We had four children.  I was making a major career change (from linguist to computer programmer).

Sue burst into tears.  I was upset by that - but surprised.  I had not thought there could be any doubt about it.

By the end of 1973 it was beginning already to be clear in fact that this would be the case, although I do not think I did any conscious thinking at the time about the matter.

We were now members of Hillsborough Baptist Church.  I don't suppose it had even occurred to us that in any sense we would retain our membership at International Baptist in Honolulu.

Had we friends in Hawai'i?  Well, I suppose we may have done, but I don't recall our having continued much of a relationship with them.  It is true that Shelly Harrison remained a friend with whom we communicated by mail, but at some point - I don't recall when - he had moved to Perth.  Our friendship was with him, not with "friends in Hawai'i."

Edna had remarried.  When did this happen?  I don't know for certain - it may even have been before we left Honolulu, but I rather think not.  She did, indeed, marry - and her husband Tony said that he wanted to adopt our daughter Kathleen.

I said 'yes' to the request and signed the requisite forms.

It would be unfair to suppose that I had no fatherly feelings towards Kathleen, nor to say that this action cost me nothing emotionally.  What I think was the case was that I was already beginning mentally to think of myself as a New Zealander.  Kathleen was far away.  I was not able to be involved with her life.  She was, I thought, better off treating her mother's husband as her father.  Kathleen reads this blog; perhaps she can tell me what of truth and what of error there was in this attitude.

15 April, 1973 had come and gone and I had filed a US income tax return.  The US tax law seemed to say that I was obliged to file a return each year, though I had no US income, and would have no tax to pay.  I did continue to do this, and when we lived in Yap, our income was taxable.  Within a year or two of our return to New Zealand, in 1984 (28 years ago as I write today, 20 May, 2012) I stopped doing even that.  The US Internal Revenue Service has never come after me for those years.

Auckland was now completely our home.  All our real friends were here.  Our working life was here.  Our religious life was here.  In 1975, we voted in the national election.  Our food and drink were what other New Zealanders ate and drank.  We have known Americans who have lived for a few years in Auckland, and who, it seemed clear to me, would eventually move back to the United States.  They were clearly foreigners living abroad.

By the end of 1973, it was clear that we were no longer that.

There were changes in the offing, however.  Sometime during 1974 we ceased to be Baptists.

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