The Australian With No Accent
N. Della, Australia
Interviewed by Tyler Della
Know what's funny? I come from a place like Australia, where everyone has the thickest accent you've ever heard, and yet I talk just like everyone else here. Sure, I say a FEW words a little odd, but for the most part you can't tell I'm from another country. I've just lost the accent over the years, I guess.
I was born in the city of Brisbane, Australia in the year of 1960. My family lived by a river, and one rainy season the river flooded. I was so amazed -- all this water was just flowing everywhere. Get this: the entrance to our house was up a flight of stairs, and I remember looking down and just seeing all this water coming about halfway up the stairs. I was so amazed it wasn't even funny. *laughs* It gets better: frogs got into the pipes of the buildings and everytime you turned on the water, the frogs would start croaking. *laughs* I remember that very much.
I liked my town a lot. It was very peaceful. It was the type of town where you'd see a street vender selling fruits and vegetables. OH! I remember I used to go to a big donut factory. It was like Krispy Kreme where you could watch the donut being made, but it was HUGE. Easily bigger than Krispy Kreme.
In Brisbane, the weather was pretty tropical. I loved it. The whole place was just so beautiful. Another thing that was kinda cool about living in Australia was that it's located in the Southern Hemisphere, so we had Christmas in the summertime. I used to spend my Christmas going to the beach. *laughs* That's pretty weird, isn't it?
Although we all loved living in Australia, in 1965 we (being me, my mom, and my grandparents) decided to move to the United States. Being 5 years old at the time, I didn't really understand what was good about this. I argued with my mom about moving, but in the end she convinced me to leave Australia. How? Well, she promised to take me to Disneyland...and that was all it took! *laughs*
I remember we had to live in Hawaii for a few weeks, because my grandmother was very ill and the government said we couldn't move inland until she passed medical standards.
Once she did, we moved to San Francisco where my uncle had already bought a place to live in for us. We lived in a second-story flat right across the street from my new elementary school. My first memories of my new home in San Francisco were the sparkly ceilings in the old building, the cut-glass doorknobs, Captain Crunch, and grape juice -- which were two things I never had before *laughs*.
Because the city of San Francisco was so new to me, I felt very lonely at school. I mean, I didn't have any friends or siblings so OF COURSE I was lonely.
Eventually me & my mother started looking for a new house. Every weekend we went around looking at houses for sale, which I thought was pretty cool. We finally found a place in Burlingame. I liked living in the new house a lot more than the old one -- the place itself was beautiful, my bedroom was up in the perch of the roof, and my neighborhood had tons of kids my age so I wasn't lonely anymore.
The other kids, while generally nice, made fun of my accent a lot. It never really upset me, just got kinda annoying fast. Speaking of kids, I did very very well in school. Straight-A student. I loved school...seeing all my friends, playing, eating, studying new stuff....THEN I got to high school... *laughs*
I didn't care much for high school -- all these punky kids made learning too difficult. What a BIIIG difference from nowadays huh? *small laugh* At Burlingame High School, I had a pretty good social life: I had tons of friends, did cheerleading, was on the track team, sang in the choir, and played cello in the orchestra.
We had modular scheduling, meaning that we went to different classes on different days for odd amounts of time. For instance, my English class I would go to on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays for an hour each day.
My choir class I would go to on Tuesdays and Thursdays for two hours! It was an odd schedule. We had open campus so students would go up Burlingame Avenue for lunch. Umm… I tutored reading at a nearby Elementary School and did Drama after school!
Well, then we moved again. This time, my mom wanted a place of her own to live in...WITHOUT having to live with her parents. We moved to Pacifica and I began attending Oceana High School.
At Oceana, I was back to being the new kid. *laughs* So I kept to myself a little bit more. I got very interested in art. I did singing there too, actually.
Umm… the kids at Oceana were much more interested in outdoorsy activities. Surfing, hiking, etc. So I got exposed to more of that kind of stuff.
At Oceana, right before I graduated, I officially became a US citizen. It was a big deal, I had to study for it and take a written test, and then go swear before a judge!
After graduating High School, I attended Skyline College for two years.
I had graduated high school early and was at Skyline when I was 16. I felt very out of place, because I was a LOT younger than most of the students. Whenever anyone asked how old I was I would say 18, and luckily I passed for it. That’s also where I met my future husband -- you’re father.
It was 1977 and he had a REALLY good line. *laughs*…I didn’t know him… but while in the school cafeteria, this very good-looking guy came up to me and asked me if he could take my picture for his photography class. Now, he actually was in photography, and it was ACTUALLY an assignment. But what a line, huh? *mocks* “You could be a model!” *laughs* I guess it worked -- we’ve been together 30 years! *laughs*
After we met, we were pretty much inseparable. It was kinda sickeningly love at first sight *laughs*. We just went to Tahoe one day and got married. We pretty much got a Vegas-style quick wedding. We didn't have a lot of money and what we had we wanted to spend on other stuff.
So, my life as an Australian immigrant has been pretty good. Life's been fare, and I have the most loving family I could ask for.
I pretty much lost my accent, although I do pronounce a few words differently than everybody else. It’s hard to pinpoint, but I know I said “new” differently -- and I’ve noticed you say the same words as I do differently! *laughs*
The signs that I carried around the most with me is that I’ve never forgotten how much of a privilege it is to be here where there are SO many more opportunities for success. Although I was born in Australia, and feel a bit sentimental about the place, I am an American through-and-through…and very proud to be one! I identify more with the United States than with Australia.