Over the past six years I’ve met a lot of expats who weren’t sure when they got to Australia. It’s a notion that amazes me; because for me the date of my Australian anniversary is as memorable as my birthday, as significant as Christmas, and I cannot imagine that it will ever be any different. I always try to do something to celebrate the occasion and have marked each anniversary with a blog post looking back at the past year. For my first Australian anniversary, I went to Byron for a solo; On my second, I was – ironically, perhaps – alone in LA, sitting in front of a Starbucks in Studio City and sipping a sugary chai latte as the sun set over the Hollywood Hills in the distance. I was in Rose Bay on my third wedding anniversary; my fourth self had just landed back in Sydney after a breakup after a month in London. Last year – my fifth anniversary – I went to a memorial dinner with my best friend Sarah to celebrate a milestone I thought I would never make.
Today I met my friend Ella for a sunrise bath. I woke up when it was still dark and my street was quiet except for the early morning birds singing. I sat in my conservatory thinking about everything that had happened in the past year before going to the sea at dawn. When I met my friend Ella just before 6 a.m., the sky was lit with streaks of pastel pinks and peaches, and the sound of the waves rippled in the distance.
We went to the northernmost part of the beach, undressed and ran into the sea; a place that has been my constant comfort since moving to Australia all those years ago. After that, we walked to the rocks in North Bondi to watch the bright morning sun glisten over the water, and I said a silent prayer of thanks that I am still here in the place I have loved for so long.
At my anniversaries down under I always get very emotional; and I always stop to think about what I loved; what I’ve lost and what I’ve learned in the past twelve months.
And so much I know for sure after six years away from home: that I have friends whose value is more precious than gold, that the healing power of the ocean is endless; that for me Australia is the most beautiful country on earth. That no two sunrises ever look alike; that I will never get bored of everything Mother Nature has to offer, that one day I will see my family again and the wait will be worth it.
In Ernest Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises, Jake Barnes says of life, “I didn’t care what it was about. I just wanted to know how to live it. ‘ Sydney taught me to live life, to seek awe and wonder in everyday life, to prefer belief to fear, to find ease in uncertainty and how short and precious life really is.
A lot has happened in the six years since I first landed in Sydney. Some of the best times of my life and some of the most brutal. I’m grateful for every heartache, every wrong turn; every curve on the road and how it changed me. I wouldn’t have missed the experience for anything.
Australia: now, then and always.
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