Four years ago, I landed on Australian soil with a missing suitcase (which was later found in Mongolia), a heart full of hope and nervous anticipation for the future. I could never have imagined what would be in front of me. and nothing could have prepared me for what would unfold over the next four years; Many of them were happy, many were sad. And while I have undoubtedly learned a lot of things in my time Down Under, one of the greatest lessons is therefore: happiness and sadness can – and often also – coexist in harmony.
When I first started this blog – many moons ago – I never thought it would be a room where I would write about the agony and agony of a breakup. And yet, given that I have written about the various visa issues I have faced over the years and the reality of living as an expat Down Under, it would be unnatural to leave out what a so much of my life was year.
Shortly after my return from Guatemala in April, I had a conversation with my boyfriend at the time, Josh, in which we talked at length about our future. and his desire to live in LA permanently. He had been honest about his plan to move to the States from the start, and although I never once doubted that he would one day make his dream a reality, I pushed him into the background believing that we loved one another would be enough to cover the distance. Yet the conversation turned out to be fateful for our relationship, and when Josh left my apartment that night, it marked the end of a great chapter in my life.
I sat in my bed in disbelief, unable to sleep or think, and it wasn’t until I texted my friend Lisa to tell her what had happened that reality really hit me. The following hours passed in a mixture of shock and heartbreak as I slowly resigned myself to the fact that the man I loved most, my best friend and my greatest inspiration, would move to Los Angeles without me. Although I had previously made no attempts to hide my contempt for the city I called home for three months when we lived there in the summer of 2017, and to mourn the breakdown of my relationship, I too mourned my life, that I had imagined for myself and Josh for the second time in LA.
To add to the matter, I shortly thereafter lost my home in Tamarama and just days after moving to a new apartment in Bondi, I found that my and Josh’s de facto visas had been denied and received a 21- one day’s notice to leave the country or to appeal against the immigration decision.
It’s hard to fully articulate the heartache I felt after the breakup. Although it was consensual and Josh continued to prove himself to be a loyal and loving part of my life, I couldn’t imagine that not only had I lost the man I loved, but that I could lose my place at home for nearly four years called. I’ve always believed that if Josh and I ever split I’d call it the end of my time Down Under, but if anything, my friends’ rally in Sydney did nothing but build my resolve to live here .
After learning of my imminent deportation – a traumatic event in itself – it felt like an hourglass had been turned over with sand running through it; and life as I knew it slipped through my fingers. I quickly met with two attorneys who both informed me that my only option to stay in Australia was to apply for a student visa offshore – although, given the long list of visas, neither had high hopes that it would be approved worked me through since moving to Sydney. Knowing this was my only chance to stay in Sydney, I quickly found a three year marketing diploma to enroll in and booked a flight back to London to pray that I would be in little more than one Flight down under would be month.
My last two days in Bondi before flying back to the UK for a month were among the toughest of my life, and I could barely operate through a haze of desperation and devastation as I said goodbye to the friends who had become family. I don’t know if or when I can return.
Every second time I have visited London since I first moved Down Under has been a joyous opportunity, being intrigued by the glittering lights of the city, the cosmopolitan cafes and the kaleidoscope of cultures, but this time it was a completely different one Experience. While I loved seeing my family and friends, the sky seemed grayer than usual; the sidewalks are thicker; the tubes rather hideous. And despite the joy of seeing some of my favorite people, I have struggled to see myself live in the UK again.
I spent the first three weeks of my trip not knowing whether I could get on the return flight I had booked and the day I woke up with my sister Jojo in a hotel in Pimlico with my student visa email Stayed was granted. It really was the best news I could have prayed for, and it meant I could finally go home after weeks of insecurity after my breakup.
My last week in London was happy; The veil of uncertainty had been lifted from my shoulders and I was certain that life as I knew it would soon be resumed and that I could return to the place I loved most.
Many lessons have been learned since I moved to Australia all those years ago. Perhaps most poignant is that on the other side of suffering and loss, there is hope and happiness.
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Image © Axel and Ash