Two Years

Happy anniversary, Sydney! It feels like just a few days ago we were toasting to my first year here, so it’s hard to believe we are now on year two.

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Two years ago

And what a year it’s been – we moved into our fantabulous new place, we both started new jobs, Joel’s business grew, and I was granted my visa (and Medicare wheeee) leaving less than a year until I’m a permanent resident (fingers crossed!). It’s been a year of change and adjustment, of little adventures, incredible meals, hella laughs, long talks and big plans.

However, I struggled with (more like collapsed under the weight of) personal issues this past year, and that was a huge set back. But facing them was a huge step forward. And slowly but surely, (and with lots of help), it’s getting better. And I still miss my family and friends in the States more than I could ever convey (Thank God for video chats). And starting new jobs and moving meant that more than a few times we scraped coins together to buy a frozen $5 pizza for dinner. #adulting

Even so, I still wake up every morning happy to be where I am. I still think to myself that I’m so damn lucky to be here. I look at Joel and I know – this is where I need to be. The trip I couldn’t afford to take became the trip that changed my life. The most reckless financial decision I ever made became the best decision I ever made.

Today

 

Thanks for everything, Sydney. In the bright, times, and in the dark times, I’m so happy to call you home. Xo

On Visas and Anniversaries

Yesterday, we got the big news we’ve been waiting for since… basically the moment in 2013 that we decided to live together.

I GOT MY VISA!

All the stress, all the worry, all the paperwork, all the days off from work to stand in line at various government agencies and all the thousands of dollars spent, and it all came through. And in possibly a year (not the 2 years I originally thought) I’ll be granted a Permanent Residency – and we’ll never have to worry about my visa status EVER. AGAIN. The fact that we don’t have to worry about it anymore has brought so much relief – but the idea that now we have more security, it makes planning for the future so much easier.

Like, it’s not insane to think about buying a car, now. And I can arrange for my books to be shipped here. And maybe we can get a pet. You know – the important things in life.

I thought that there would be a lot more pomp and circumstance when I found out – with all the effort that went into getting the visa, I was at least hoping for a kangaroo holding to deliver the visa in the form of a bronzed plaque and a hand full of balloons saying WELCOME!! Instead, it arrived in an innocuous email that I at first thought was asking me for more information. Ah well, however it happened, I’m glad that it did. We thought we were going to have to wait until July at least – if not December, before we found out. And that we found out Monday when our third anniversary was on Saturday – that’s just sweet timing.

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Also it gave us another excuse to celebrate with cake. And that’s basically why I do everything in life – for the possibility of cake.

So happy days – happy visa-ing, and happy anniversaring. Joel, there’s no one I could ever imagine doing this with… every day, you show me that I made the right decision. Thank you for always going above and beyond, for listening, for counselling, for making the best punch drunk chicken this side of the meridian, for always knowing. I love you more than I love sweatpants. Even if you do love Suspect Zero more than you love me.

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3 Years Ago

Three years ago today, at 6:30 AM, I landed in Sydney for the very first time. My best friend Odie picked me up from the airport, and we spent the day galavanting around the city and seeing sights.

Later that afternoon, we were having sweat pants and beers time in the apartment, and in saunters this tall, quiet looking guy carrying a case of Victoria Bitter and asking “Who wants to watch To Catch a Predator?”

He sat down to join us, and it felt like the three of us had been friends for years. And that feeling never dissipated. Not in the two weeks that followed, and not in the three years since.

The instant comfort and familiarity that I have with Joel is one of my many favourite things about us. I feel like I’ve always known him. And I’ll never not be excited to see his name come up on my phone, or to see him walk through the door at the end of the day. And I’ll never get tired of writing super saccharine drenched entries just about him. He’s been a life changer, and I am forever grateful.

 

30

 

They say when you stop looking, you’ll find it. And it’s true. He’s my most favourite souvenir. Way to go, Universe.

A Year in Review

September 3rd brought about my one year anniversary of living in Sydney with Joel. We celebrated with Netflix, champagne and sweatpants.

One of Joel's customers gave a bottle of bubbly. Free champagne is the best champagne.
One of Joel’s customers gave a bottle of bubbly. Free champagne is the best champagne.

Like every milestone that’s passed since I’ve been here, it’s still a little hard to believe that it happened. Like, how did all the holidays pass, all the seasons change, and all the shit that’s happened happen when I only got here like, 2 days ago?

Moving overseas was a huge process, and in the excitement of it all, I underestimated every step of it. I knew I’d miss my friends and family, but I didn’t know how devastatingly I’d miss them or how much I’d kick myself for not calling them every day when I was back in the States. I knew living in a new country would be an adjustment, but I didn’t account for the little things, for the crushing despair I’d feel from not being able to do a walk around Target when I’m feeling down, or for having to stand in the grocery store Googling “what is this ingredient called in Australia” or having a question about dinner and not being able to call my mom for advice. It didn’t occur to me that I’d feel like such an outsider in a first world, english speaking country, and I didn’t think about how feeling like an outsider would make it harder to make friends. I didn’t know how helpless and frustrated and angry I would feel when I’d hear about being able to do nothing about problems back home. I didn’t think about how scary it would be to count every dollar in my budget because I can’t just borrow $50 from my parents anymore. And I really didn’t think about the “hey, only I can talk shit about my family, ok?” reaction I’d get when I’d hear shit talk about the States and American policies – that was the most surprising.

So this year has been the biggest adjustment I’ve ever gone through. But, I can’t think of an adjustment that has been more important or more necessary. And for all the internal challenges I’ve faced this year, my support system has been incredible. I’ve met some great people through Joel and through work, and my parents been there for me, offering me endless support and turning a blind eye to me buying American TV shows through their Amazon prime (they also gave me a gift of temporarily taking over my student loan payments, which I’ll never be able to thank them enough for). My friends have never been more than a message or an impromptu Skype session away, which I’ve never been more thankful for.

I’ve also had a constant source of support and friendship and general badassery here, and it was from one aspect of my life that I knew I never had to worry about: Joel. For the first time ever, I feel like I have a partner. I have someone who isn’t just invested in me, but who is invested in us. I hadn’t realized it before I moved here, but I had always had him as my number one priority in life. Since being in Sydney, though, our life together has become the number one priority. And it’s been an eye opening experience. It’s our money and our problems and our home and our holidays and our life. He’s helped me to be more conscious of my spending, to be healthier, to be more patient and supportive of myself, and to let go of situations I have no control over. Of course, we’ve had our stumbling moments, but now, it feels effortless. I wake up every morning feel grateful that the universe knocked us together.

A whole year. Damn. It took a lot longer than I expected, but I feel like Sydney is becoming my home. I’ve met some great people, I know how to get around town more, I know what to expect from the seasons (i.e. how to dress and live during summer when you don’t have air conditioning), I have cheat sheets for the metric system, I’m determined to learn how to drive, I’m going to hit the beach way more, and life here doesn’t feel so lonely anymore. At the end of every month, I learn a few more lessons about living here. My visa is finally finished and turned in, and I’m employed full time. Basically, I finally feel ready to worry less and do more.

Time flies. At jet speeds. And it feels like so much has happened, even if it doesn’t look like it. Because all the things that happened were little. I realized the value of a dollar. The value of a phone call or even a text message to loved ones. The values of patience and consideration. The value of putting myself in someone else’s shoes. The value of eating healthier and moving more. The value in dropping bad habits. The value of letting go and forgiving. All these little realizations all added up to something huge: I finally grew up.

Happy anniversary, Sydney. Thanks for everything. xo

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One Year

hey hey!

It’s been a year in this beautiful city. A year that challenged and amazed and revealed.

Best decision I’ve ever made.

I’ll be back later with a more indepth review of my first year Down Under, and a new catchup.com post, and even a blog redesign! But the death grip of this flu I have is clouding my brain at the moment and I can only concentrate on Speed, which is currently on TV. Keanu is soothing. Death must be near.

xo, Sydney.

3 Years Ago Today

This morning was rough. I woke up early for more annoying phone calls about my finger prints, and Joel and I had a snit over a miscommunication, so I stormed out with barely a good bye, which I don’t do, and I proceeded to stew and growl all the way to work.

Work was super busy, which didn’t help my shitty “I don’t care” attitude. Joel and I made up over text later in the morning, but I was just over the whole day. And while I was on the bus ride home, after the longest day in the history of ever finally concluded, time hop reminded me of this:

And I was all heart eyes and awwwww.

I remember it as clear as day: unemployed, no real money to speak of, living with my parents, drunk, chatting with Odie. I decided in a split second that I wanted to visit. I suggested New Year’s. He said YES. I looked up tickets. And after 40 minutes, I had my credit card reservation and my Australian holiday visa sitting in my email. That’s how I roll.

I thought I was just going on a holiday. I hadn’t really spent more than 48 hours with Odie, ever, and I was about to spend 16 days with him. I didn’t know that I’d have one of the best trips of my entire life. And I didn’t know I’d make a new friend who I would eventually realise was my missing piece. And I sure as hell didn’t know that 3 years later, I’d be living there, dealing with visas.

That split decision changed my life. And I had no idea it would even happen.

I saw that post, and I thought, even on shit days, I’d still rather be here than anywhere else. So thank you, Drunk Destiny. You put me right where I need to be.

It didn't hurt to come home to some particularly awesome presents.
It didn’t hurt to come home to some particularly awesome presents.

Just goes to show you, nothing bad will ever happen to you if spend your money recklessly and live your life with no expectation of success or adulthood. Ever*.

*And it definitely won’t make you move back in with your parents 3 times so you can pay off your bills. It definitely won’t.

6 months in

Six months ago, I walked off a plane with two very over stuffed bags, ready to start the life that Joel and I had been planning.

And it’s already been six months. Half a year. Where did it all go?!

I mean, I know time has passed, because I can throw my hair up in a bun now, and I couldn’t when I first moved here, but it’s still hard to believe.

Who needs
who needs a calendar when you have gray hairs* and split ends?

But it still feels like yesterday that I was racing through the airport with those very overstuffed bags and two very overstuffed suitcases, running toward Joel and our new life. Running toward what my mom calls “our big adventure.”

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us, circa September 2014. Oh, how young and free we once were.

This is the longest I’ve gone without seeing my family, my friends, and my pets, and that can suck sometimes. Let’s be real, that can really suck sometimes. But every day  reaffirms that I made the best decision of my life by moving here. I knew it would be hard, but I also knew it would worth it. And it has been. These last six months have been more rewarding and challenging than I ever thought they could be. For the first time in my life, I’m thinking and acting like an adult instead of a pseudo-bohemian-malcontent-girl-child. Like, we have an actual savings account. With money in it. And we pool our resources and we have solid plans for our future and we talk shit out and we compromise and we support one another. It feels responsible and very Adulty. And it’s pretty awesome.

Before I moved, people told me that I was brave to follow my heart. I didn’t then, and I don’t now think it had anything to do with bravery. First, I moved from one English speaking first world country to another. Second, I moved in with Joel, whom I adore, but who is also one of the most hard working, caring, sincere, hilarious and loving men I’ve ever met. It doesn’t take balls to take a bet on a sure thing. And I’d bet the house on him all over again.

Happy 6 months, Sydney. I’m so very happy I have a chance to call you home.

Now it’s time to get that visa submitted, so I can hopefully call you home for a much longer time.

*I got my first grey hair when I was 14. And now I have a Stacy London patch that gets frighteningly more apparent the longer I go between salon visits. Thanks, Mom!

30ish days!

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Friday marked my one month anniversary with my new home. Happy one month, Sydney! It’s been swell.

Swell is a bit of an understatement. The past 30 days have been nothing short of fantastic. I’m in love. Not just with Joel, but with life in general. Most days, I’m so bowled over with happiness and feels that I think my heart will burst and a billion sappy Meg Ryan comedies will spill out of me. And then I feel like punching myself. But it’s all so good.

We’ve been cooking and adventuring and decorating and hanging out in sweat pants, watching movies and terrible television. I walk all the time. I get to read when I’m on the bus. The weird pink-eye but not pink-eye that affected my right eye for almost an entire month cleared up after being in Sydney for 2 days. My skin looks clearer. My eye lashes are longer. I just feel better. Life just feels better.

Have I been home-sick? Well, at times. For example, it’s October and instead of orange red leaves and girls in scarves, we have lush green trees and girls in booty shorts, which is a bit of a mind-warp. I’m already missing my East Coast fall, and pumpkin flavored everything. I miss having hang times with my family and my friends, and only factoring in a 2 or 3 hour, not 16 hour time difference, when I’m talking with my long distance pals. I miss being there to hug my friends who are going through tough times. I miss going on Target runs and I miss my pets.

I knew that would be the case though. I knew I would long for the people and places and animals that have helped make my life whole, but I’ve never had a doubt in my mind that moving to the other side of the world would be worth it. Before I moved, a few people warned me that Joel’s and my relationship dynamic could change since we went directly from long distance to living together. And it has. But in a good way. We’ve had our moments of adjustment–it’s natural. It’s what a relationship does, it grows and flexes over time. It hasn’t dulled the luster. We’re still super smug in love. Like Jay and Bey.

So, missing everyone in the states, and trading fall for summer has definitely been worth it. I feel at home with Joel. It’s a completeness I’ve never felt outside of my family, and it’s fulfilling and lovely and full of unicorns shitting rainbows. It’s not just me and my goals anymore. It’s us, and our goals. Bringing each other up. Doing things for our future. I’m awed at the sacrifices Joel makes and the constant support he gives. I live to see him walk through the door at the end of the day, or to meet with him at the bus stop. I wake up every day, without fail, feeling lucky and grateful.

/gush gush gush. I am a geyser of feels right now. Old Faithful style.

Basically, my first 30 days in Sydney have been full of fun and love. I’ve been mistaken for Canadian every single time. I’ve learned a whole new catalog of words. I’m pretty down with centigrade, but cooking with the metric system makes me curl into a small ball. My phone and my work computer auto-corrects “realize/apologize” to “realise/apologise” and “color” to “colour”. I can’t say the word mobile as mo-bile without feeling like a douche. I’m getting used to $1 and $2 coins. I haven’t yet been punched by a kangaroo. I spill food when I use my knife in my left hand and eat off the back of my fork. I’m getting used to no a/c and no electric dryer. I’m learning. And it’s hella fun.

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Here’s to infinity more fantastic days.