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.
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.
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.
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.