On January 20, 2021

An Aussie transplant’s reflection on missing home

Fran Sun

Rutland Young Professionals proudly serves more than 100 diverse members, and countless others throughout the Rutland Region who attend our events, participate in workshops, and look to us as champions of the opportunities that can be found here. We’re all so different, yet the one common thread that unites us is our geographic location. When you get to know our members, you’ll find that some call the Rutland Region home because they were born here and can’t imagine leaving. Others made the intentional decision to call it home. This month, we want to introduce you to Fran Sun, an RYP board member and chair of our diversity committee, who chose to build a life and grow her career here. Fran, who is from Australia, reflects on Christmas in Australia and the experience of feeling homesick at home.

Christmas where I come from might not be white, like it often is here in beautiful Vermont. In Australia, it’s a rainbow.

It’s the jewel green of the Pacific Ocean, stretching out to the hazy greenish grey of islands dotting the horizon to form the Great Barrier Reef. It’s the rich orange of huge, fresh, perfectly ripe mangos (straight from the backyard tree if you’re lucky). Impossibly sweet, juice running down your arms as you eat them by the bowlful. It’s the shimmering blue of a backyard pool, where those who aren’t close enough to the ocean (or don’t want to deal with stinging creatures) retreat at every possible moment to keep cool. It’s the blood red of a bushfire sunset, ominous and watchful, reminding us to check and recheck our supplies and plans. It’s the bright yellow of passionfruit pulp, smothering the traditional pavlova, topped with all the other fruit Australia is lucky to have in season at our main celebration meal. It’s the dusty purple of the Great Dividing Range, visible in the west, looming over the cattle grazing plains and the twisting Fitzroy River.

And if you’ll permit me to double up on blue, in 2020, it’s the color of my deep homesickness. I have been living away from my family for nearly six years. In that time, my parents have visited a handful of times each (as much as their busy jobs allow). I have given birth to two beautiful children, one of whom has not met her aunt, or the rest of my extended family. My son, who is now four, travelled with us back to Australia in 2017 when he was eight months old – just a baby koala on my chest for the entire 36-hour nightmare trip – a car, a bus, three planes, another car. He’s a full human now, and thanks to the magic of technology he knows his family’s faces and their voices, and their love. But he has not sailed to the islands with his grand-dad. His great uncle hasn’t thrown him, squealing with joy, up in the air to land in the water. The kids’ aunt hasn’t passed on her love of art and dinosaurs in person – only in the form of books and gifts. My son’s namesake, my cousin, is yet to throw him a rugby pass in the backyard while we wait for lunch to be ready. The poor kid doesn’t even know what a cricket ball is – though maybe that’s for the best. Those are weapons in the hands of a toddler.

2020 was the year we were all going down under. My husband, who grew up in this area, planned around it with his job, and I with my heart. When we decided we couldn’t go, I cried like someone had died. It was grief and loss. And hasn’t this year been hard on all of us? Around the holidays we were asked to do the impossible. To avoid our families on purpose at the time of the year when we usually take time to embrace them. But as an RRMC employee working to keep our community safe, I’m thankful. We need to stay away now, so that next year, no one is missing.

And so that I can join my family to drink white wine in the sun.

Fran Sun lives in Rutland with her family and coordinates the occupational health testing program for Rutland Regional Medical Center’s Specimen Collection Program. She is also the owner of Shark + Sparrow.

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