When my father first left, he had sent us the standard Koala Bare T-shirts, with mooning cartoon bears, and liquid-filled pens with sliding Opera Houses. He sent us pictures of the Sydney harbor at sunset with fishing boats and yachts suckling the shoreline. We sent him pictures of our blind dog covered in snow.
It became clear that the prospect of moving to the bottom of the globe for good would require more extensive cultural immersion. Dad returned home for a week with Polaroids of his apartment overlooking the Harbour Bridge, with books by Australian authors, with strange sandwich spreads and rugby hats. I became fascinated with the idea of backward-running toilets but knew better than to determine the validity of this rumor by asking. Instead, I watched a science channel miniseries on the kangaroo and was fascinated to learn they drool on themselves to stay cool. I was anxious to see them bound through my backyard like deer.
On his second visit home, my father went to get into the car on the wrong side. He went on tangents about Shiraz. When he bought opal earrings for the women in our family, I knew we were being bribed into cultural submission. My parents, much to my general dismay, were never in the habit of bribery-as-parenting. When I opened that velvet box to see two iridescent dots staring back at me, I knew this was real: we were moving to Sydney for sure.
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