Today I’m celebrating five years since I landed in this fantastic country from the UK. Fresh out of a long-term relationship, a shared mortgage and a job that had started to become pretty tiresome, I hit on the idea of heading to Sydney for a year to work. I’d never been to Australia before (in hindsight, I realise that sounds a bit crazy) but heck, I knew two people here!
I get a little bit emotional every time I tick off another year in Sydney. This year is no exception. The last 12 months were a rollercoaster, which almost saw me lose my right to stay here. There’s nothing like it to make you realise how much you desperately want to stay somewhere! But it’s all good. I got my permanent residency this year and yes, I cried tears of relief.
I LOVE SYDNEY. I still feel like a tourist when I take the ferry (several times a week!) or see the bridge. My love affair with Sydney is intense and I think it’s the kind of love affair you can only really have as an immigrant. I seriously don’t think there’s anywhere I’d rather live. New York is one of the most magical places I’ve ever been to but I don’t think I could handle actually living there.
I’ve never felt as lucky or as grateful as since I’ve lived here. It’s a feeling of contentment which leaves you brain space to put the other stuff into perspective. I think that attitude started a few months before I moved here when a very good friend of mine suffered the absolutely heartbreaking death of his 9-month-old son. I don’t think, in your twenties, that you ever expect to see your friends go through anything as earth shatteringly sad and horribly grown up. I’m not a risk-taking person by nature and I really think what happened to Will shook me to the core and made me realise that you really don’t know what’s around the corner or how long you’ve got. So, if you are acting like life’s a rehearsal, better pull yourself out of that mindset and realise you only get one shot at this.
When I’m tempted to get caught up in the little things (and I often am), like whether someone likes my blog or whether people will judge me for writing about interior design when I have no design qualifications, or when I’m going to lose the last five kilos, I stop and remember that all that is CRAP and it doesn’t matter. What matters is your health, your family, your friends and doing your best to be a kind and decent person. And if you, like me, live somewhere you love, get paid to do something you love and are about to marry someone you love, my goodness, you really shouldn’t be complaining at all.
So, half a decade on, some thank you’s seem appropriate: to Laura and Mark, for letting me live with them for a couple of months while I found my first Aussie job; to Matt, for picking me up from the airport, jetlagged, all kinds of emotional and overwhelmed, and for
drinking with looking after me for the first six months and including me in his family’s Sunday dinners; to Damian, for asking me to be his wife; to my family, for hardly ever making me feel guilty about moving to the other side of the world (I still miss you loads); to my real friends at home (you soon work out who they are) for keeping in touch and still being there for me and to the many, MANY amazing friends I have made since I’ve been here. Some of these Aussie friendships are the kind people would feel lucky to have built over a lifetime, not just a few years. And last but not least, to baby Will, for making me realise life’s too short not to take a chance.
I feel INCREDIBLY lucky to live in Sydney and, while I often whinge (come on, I’m still a Pom!) about being overworked/tired/a little bit fat/Vegemite not being as good as Marmite, I never stop feeling grateful for my life here. It didn’t just land in my lap of course. I’ve worked really hard, but my happiness is only a small part down to me. It is overwhelmingly because of the people in my life that it’s as lovely as it is. And you, dear readers, are pretty awesome too, because it it wasn’t for you, this wouldn’t be my job now. A million thank you’s!