I landed in Sydney three years ago today. It feels like before a lifetime and yet it feels like yesterday. I am, on the one hand, the same person I was when I left London; and yet I am different; more worldly and wiser; but also more tired and worn. When I got on that plane, I was twenty-nine, my eyes wide, and I was hopeful. I could never have foreseen the adventures that would lay ahead; how easily I would fall into the rhythm of my new life in Bondi, how blessed I would be with the friends who soon became family, and how difficult I would find many other aspects of life Down Under – the homesickness, the highs and Lows and the heartache of my own perceived failure.
It feels right that I am writing this from my new apartment in Rose Bay. I spent my first Australian anniversary alone in Byron Bay watching the sun rise over Australia’s easternmost point. Last year I was in LA, a city where I struggled to find my way around. One that I’ve made few friends in, but also a place that I will almost certainly return to. And today to Rose Bay, a suburb overlooking the harbor, my new home and the place where I lived when I first fell in love with Australia.
It’s been a while since I last made one of these more personal posts. As readers and writers, we get used to a beginning, a middle, and an end, and I suppose that’s what I’ve been waiting for. An ending, a finale, a climax, or a climax that would pay off eighteen months of uncertainty would come full circle. And yet, as we approach the final quarter of the year, while I am infinitely happier than I was in LA, I still feel somewhat lost and unsure of what the future holds.
My heart has been in Sydney since the vacation I spent here, which ultimately led to my packing life the way I knew it in London to create the unfathomable distance down under. And although after three years of absence from home I would have hoped for a certain degree of stability, this security always feels out of my grasp. I love Sydney, I love my city more than I can put into words, I love the dazzling twinkle on the water, I love the skyline that I can see from my apartment, I love the people and the beaches and the bush walks and the bookstores, but I’ll never get over the distance from my loved ones back home. I miss the friends I made in Sydney who have sailed to another port. I don’t like the fear and overwhelm I feel when thinking about the future. I lament the days in London when my life was almost entirely risk free, when the choices I made were small and traveling north of the river to see a friend seemed like a great and unnecessary effort.
And so is the life of an expat; We are blessed with choice and opportunity, with lives and experiences stronger than most. But we too are part of a moving sea of people who are looking for their final destination and their resting place. One of the things that I have loved most in the past three years is the people I have met from all corners of the world. Everyone asks you where you are from because everyone is here from everywhere. But most of these travelers are not done yet. This is not her last stop. You make friends and often they make their way to another location. Or at home. Well, what I love, I hate too.
I don’t know what my future will bring or what country it will be in. But if I’m sitting here in Rose Bay, I might have missed the obvious ending. Maybe three years ago I closed my circle on this life changing vacation. Maybe it is. Maybe this is my place for now.
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Image: Axel & Ash