Yeah, I had to read that twice as well. I am actually in year 3 already of my move from sunny Yorkshire, down under to the sun kissed shores of Australia. To Sydney, to be more specific.
If you have been reading the travails of the Yorkshire Expat from the very beginning, from the embryonic outset of And we are off (a blog from exactly 2 years ago today), you will see that it has been quite a journey so far.
|One of the very first pics, August 2012|
And this is perhaps not a blog that you, let alone me, maybe envisaged me writing maybe 12 months ago. The move from familiar surroundings, ones that have cossetted you for the first 40 years of your life, to a land down under, some 11,000kms away, is not one without its ups and downs.
Give it at least 12 months people said. More seasoned observers advised making that 18 months. Here I am, 24 months in, and I have to say that they are right. Not until you have lived through certain milestones, celebrated at least 2 of an annual event, do you really get a sense of “being”.
Having a secure(ish), enjoyable job helps. I work, and have worked, with some great people, and have made some good friends. I am settled in my apartment and have been here almost 2 years, in a great suburb, with everything I could ask for. An amazing beach on my doorstep, great cafes and restaurants, and a choice of commute into the city by bus or ferry.
|One of the many friends I have made|
I have now gone through 2 winters here, and know how much I appreciate summer. Readers in the northern hemisphere may scoff when I say this, but in a country where properties don’t have heating, including my apartment, this place feels bloody cold some days, and most nights through winter.
It is now spring and how I yearn for the long summer days of November and December. Days when I can reacquaint myself with sunscreen, flip flops, and my, currently cast aside like an old lover, BBQ. Where I can sit on my balcony, with a cold sauvignon blanc, watching the planes fly overhead, piercing the azure sky, on their way to destinations near and far.
The esky needs dusting down and I again start my, now annual, hope that this year is third time lucky. In that I get sun on my birthday, Christmas Day. The gods have been against me the last two occasions and I am determined to be quaffing champagne on the beach, with the seas lapping against my feet, come December 25th.
If life is about chapters, I have read of few over the last couple of years. Chapters about change, and transition. Chapters about dealing with grief, from a distance, across the lonely seas, as the circle of life marches inexorably on. People have been taken from me. And new people have come into the world to replace them.
|Xmas 2013, not on the beach|
As an expat, it is as though you watch these scenes unfold from behind a pane of glass. You can see, and hear all that happens, but the main characters are heart breakingly out of reach.
As I turn yet another page, a new chapter is about to start. Year 3 brings new beginnings, in economic parlance, “green shoots of recovery”. An exciting chapter, that in a sense feels like the start of a new book. A book I don’t know the end of yet. I don’t even know the next chapter, but I know how the plot goes. I’m writing that part myself.
A friend once asked me, over a year ago, what the chances were of me remaining in Australia for a full 2 years. I think I replied “17%”, without skipping a heartbeat. Obviously a totally arbitrary figure, but one that gave a sense where my head was. If that same friend was to ask me know, I would need a moments reflection. However, after that short contemplation, I would say that the chances are considerably greater.
We don’t know where life will take us. And although we are in charge of our own destinies, life happens whilst you are making plans. A John Lennon quote that I know I’ve used before. But it is so true.
A lot of life’s journey relies on timing. And sometimes that timing is just not right. But then, every once in a while, the stars align and the world intervenes. And this is when you know you have to grab your moment.
So all we can do for now, is keep making those plans, and hope life is kind to us. And with that in mind, I see no reason why I won’t be writing a similar blog in 2 years time, as a citizen of this great country. Four years being the qualifying criteria for an Australian passport, something I thought would be out of reach this time last year.
But right now, I may only have a 17% chance of still being here in 2 years. It could be a 77% chance.
All I can do is take it one chapter at a time.