Manly Beach at sunset

Goodbye My Australia

May 28, 2013

in family, friends, life changes, moving home, sydney

Believe it or not, I wrote an entire goodbye Australia post last night. It was draining, and writing it before bed probably contributed to a restless sleep.

Somehow, even though my blog posts usually save automatically, and I could’ve sworn I clicked “save draft,” it didn’t save. Not one, single word. So here I sit, not 10 minutes after the movers have finished packing up most of our belongings from the home I’ve shared with Brendan for 2.5 years, rewriting my farewell.

I’ve kept my news of leaving to go back to the U.S. — a decision made right after the New Year, exactly a month after getting permanent residency in Australia — quiet from a lot of people. The decision to go was personal but not borne from anything wrong with life here. In fact, life has been pretty darn good to me this last year: I started a new career that still allows me to earn a living writing, got married, enjoyed a wide circle of friends and continuously traveled. It had taken a while for life to click here, and in the last 18 months of my time here in Sydney, it finally did. I’d arrived here lost and unsure of what the next phase of my life would look like only to finally, blessedly grow into my own, with confidence, fully-rounded character and a course charted by the whims of my heart.

Me sitting at the Blue Mountains

View of Sydney from Glebe

Climbing the Sydney Harbour Bridge

The adventure was what I needed but it was never perfect and it never completely scrubbed me of the dirt from my past or the sharpness of my edges. The intensity remains even as I’ve slowly learned to let stuff go and stop worrying constantly about everything. I wasn’t always happy with the selfishness of expat life or the people it attracts, nor did I always appreciate Australians’ love of drink and the tendency to show up late and take their time with everything (i.e. Sydney transport, or #cityfail). But those qualities are also what I needed to experience after living in an East Coast city where everything was rushed and so many people were unhappy. The Aussie love of life is a beautiful thing to experience, and the expat life I had here for more than three years was a fun-filled, world-reshaping time I feel blessed to have had.

Sydney harbour from afar

Group of expats waiting for bagels

Sydney skyline lit up for Vivid Festival

My emotions have been a bit flat, just as they were when I was leaving the States. So much has happened in the last 18 months, and while much of it was good, it has also been tiring. I feel ready for something new and to be around close friends and family again. The settled life I rejected back when I left for Australia has arrived at my door. It doesn’t mean a life bereft of travel or adventure. But I’m ready to slow down for a bit.

My wedding shower

Manly Beach at sunset

Me and Brendan at Bondi Beach

One blog post could never cover all I’ll miss about the land called Oz. I feel so fortunate to have moved here and to have stayed well past my original departure date. I found the love of my life here, saw beauty I’d never imagined and had so many fun days and nights with a global sea of friends. Those massive things I’ll miss, but also the little ones, like the friendly, funny Turkish guys at the cafe around the corner, the screeching serenade of the cockatoos and the fire-in-the-sky Sydney sunsets that made me pause every time. The colloquialisms — arvo, reckon, shattered — will stay with me far longer than they should. I’ll wake up confused on January 26 when I can no longer celebrate Australia Day and again at the end of April when I’m not in a pub playing two-up. I’ll wonder if I’ll ever lawn ball again or go for a dip in the ocean in February. I won’t see many costumes unless it’s Halloween and I’ll need to find a good dumpling place as soon as possible.

Sydney shook up my life in the exact way I needed it to. Even as I continued to grapple with my weaknesses, I was forced to stop and look around at the life happening around me. An old college professor I saw before I left Philadelphia said to me then, the five-year anniversary of my graduation, “The Belle of Brick Township has grown up.” He was wrong. I needed four more years and a big adventure for that to happen.

Thank you, Australia, for letting me stay as long as I did, for showing me a new way, for introducing me to new people from new places and for the snapshot in time that will live in me until my last breath.

A rainbow at Vaucluse, Sydney

30 Comments - Add Yours!

    1. Lauren Post author

      Thanks Mike! I was just thinking about you the other day at work and how I’ve missed you being there the last six months. All the best to you 🙂

      Reply
  1. Jack

    Struth! I can’t believe you are leaving us. 🙁

    Lauren, you are a gem, actually an opal, if we’re talking all things Aussie, and I’ll be sorry to see you go.

    Please speak fondly of us when you get home and encourage as many people as possible to come over and say g’day. Tell them about Brisbane and Queensland as we don’t get the same fair share of media as Sydney and Melbourne do and that is a croc! Fair dinkum it is.

    I look forward to hearing more of your adventures, but for now, head home, immerse yourself back into being an American, and when you spot a sunset or hear INXS or ACDC on the radio or see a QANTAS ad on TV or in a travel magazine, think of us and I hope it brings you a smile.

    See ya, mate!

    Jack

    Reply
    1. Lauren Post author

      Ahh, this comment almost cracked through my emotional blockade for a second Jack. It’s poetic, as you are, and you are exactly the kind of good egg I will talk about when I talk about Australia back East. I felt a little shite not putting pics of my travels up your way and elsewhere — as you can see from former posts, I do like Brissie — but I made it more about Sydney as it was my home. I hope you forgive me. Be well, my friend.

      Reply
  2. Bobbi Lee Hitchon

    I cannot believe you’re leaving three years later! It’s just so crazy to think back on your time in Australia. Wow! What a journey Lauren. I’m so happy to see how great everything is in your life-you’ve fallen in love, found new work and made so many new friends. If anyone deserves it, it’s someone as vibrant and kind-hearted as you. Definitely a life changing journey for you and I know it must be hard to leave the life you’ve created in Sydney and all the friends you’ve made there. But you know what is best for you and it looks like you’ll always have a home in Oz if or when you decide to return and that is pretty special. Thanks for taking me on your journey with this blog. Safe travel and best of luck with your transition home. I’ll be back in the USA this July! Would love to catch up in NYC!

    Reply
  3. Lauren Post author

    Bobbi, you are one of the first people I met here, our first week in Oz! How crazy is it when you think of how far we’ve both come? I am incredibly happy for you and Ric Roll and have also loved watching your journey and evolution. Whenever I think of the journeyer I aspire to be, I think of you. You have been so many places and you travel and live with your whole heart. It’s quite amazing. I would love to see you back in the States!

    Reply
  4. Linds

    How strange for us to come back to Sydney with you two gone – seems June is the optimal month for big moves. Hope we cross paths when it’s our turn to trial a more settled life in the States. You will be missed heaps (and heaps).

    Reply
    1. Lauren Post author

      I will miss you too — thanks for being the one who encouraged my move to Australia without evening knowing it. Bring back Tales of a Yank!

      Reply
  5. Stephanie Woods

    Lauren, I couldn’t help notice this on my fb newsfeed and it grabbed me right away as I believe we met on your very first day in Sydney at the Bondi Beach YHA. I still remember you bright face coming into the room. This brought me back in time to my own feelings I had there, such a magical time and place. I am so glad to read that you found exactly what you were looking for, as I remember a few conversations we had about what this trip meant to us. Best of luck with the travels home 🙂

    Reply
    1. Lauren Post author

      Steph, I called you Sunshine, and you were. You were the happiest face and so comforting during my first few days in Australia. I will never forget your friendliness or kindness. You are a beautiful person inside and out and I wish you many more adventures, in Canada and beyond.

      Reply
  6. Heather

    I’m sure a lot of soul searching and late nights and conversations went into this decision.

    I loved meeting you in first half of my Australian journey so I could know you for most of it. You’re one awesome lady, and I felt truly fortunate to have met you.

    I’m sure the weeks ahead will be full of transition and some reverse culture shock thoughts and feelings. Hang in there and ride the wave and know so many people are thinking about you and loving you!

    Reply
    1. Lauren Post author

      Thanks so much Heather. There might be some Skype sessions in the near future. I am thrilled for you that your journey continued to be amazing after you left Australia and that you found the love of your life. Thanks for being a good friend to me and for always checking in.

      Reply
  7. Christine

    Beautifully written, and oh my goodness, can I relate! Now that I’m back in New York City, I’m thrilled to be surrounded by college friends and a quick flight from family–and this city has an energy that can’t be matched–but I do miss the laid-back smiles and the coastal breeze of Australia. The grass is always greener, I suppose–but welcome home!

    Reply
  8. Erik

    WOW! This is big news. What are your plans for the future?

    Beautifully written, thoughtful piece. Best of luck in the next stage of your life.

    Reply
    1. Lauren Post author

      Hi Erik — We are going to move to NYC. There were some things in the background that contributed to the move, but we will definitely miss Australia and hope to return in some capacity someday. Thanks for the well wishes.

      Reply
  9. Brooke

    I am so sad reading this post, but also really excited to hear of your life in NYC which I’m sure will be nothing less than awesome 🙂 It’s been great to get to know you over the past few years, and I can’t believe that it is really time to say our farewells. Too soon! Too soon! 😉

    Pat and I will do our best to make it to your part of the States when we get back to visit. And don’t forget, you have a place to stay here too! Hope to see you and B-Slam back in Aussieland in the future! 😀

    Reply
    1. Lauren Post author

      Thanks my dear. I, too, have enjoyed getting to know the little travel blogger I started following on Twitter four years ago. We’ve had a lot of good laughs and times and I will miss you and Pat. I look forward to continuing to follow your adventures from afar.

      Reply
  10. Pat Morris (one of Mary's ladies)

    That was beautiful, Lauren. And your journey continues! Look forward to seeing you at home. I have always wanted to travel to Australia and this makes me want to go even more.

    Reply
    1. Lauren Post author

      Aww, Pat, I’m just seeing this comment now! Thank you so much for taking the time to read it. I know Mary and Frank loved their visit back when Brendan first moved out to Oz — definitely get there if you can.

      Reply
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  13. Jenny Hernandez

    Hi! I’m planning to move to Australia as well. I’m 20 years old. This was so inspirational and amazing to read!

    Reply
    1. Lauren Post author

      Hi Jenny. That’s awesome you are going to head to Oz. Thanks for taking the time to read my post. I wish you the best of luck — I’ll be adding some content soon about how I made the move and tips for making it smoothly.

      Reply
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