When I moved to Brisbane in 2012, it was not my first choice. It wasn’t my second, third, or tenth choice. It was not on my list of things to do in my life- ever. I had lived in New Zealand, done the living abroad thing. I was home, settled, working, ready to move elsewhere in the U.S., but not abroad.
As my new life unfolded in front of me, seemingly without my input, I grew tepidly warm to the idea of moving to this mysterious tropical city. I began to research Brisbane, and almost every image was punctuated by the Brisbane river – the Story Bridge lit up at night, framing the river as it snakes through the city.
Early on, I was impacted by the river. A city built around water with bridges that beautiful couldn’t be so bad.
In 2014, my life imploded. My reality came crashing down the day I turned 27, leaving very little to grasp onto as I tried to sort through the rubble of my former life and future visions.
On September 14, the day of my twenty-seventh birthday, I took a bike ride. This was a time in my life that generated a visceral need for fierce exercise, as a means of coping if nothing else.
I left the stifling shoebox of an apartment and made my way down to the river, following the bikeways from North to South. As I reached the Story Bridge, I called my friend Emma, in tears. The sheer weight of the situation was impossible; there were too many possibilities, and very few of them good.
In that moment, on my bike next to the river, I saw a very clear path: it would involve many painful battles, and a lot of questions I couldn’t yet know the answers to, but I knew I would be fine. I would make it through, and be better for it.
I don’t remember the details of my call to Emma, but I will never forget the unshakeable feeling of resolve, the clear knowledge that there was awful work to be done, and untold shit ahead, but I would make it. I would be okay.
Last weekend, nearly three years later to the day, I celebrated my thirtieth birthday. A milestone, I ushered in this new decade with a magically gorgeous picnic and friends that could not possibly be any more wonderful.
Just metres from my desperate call to Emma, I celebrated what has blossomed from the ashes of that awful year, and a new year full of promise, with vivid possibilities already on the horizon.
I did make it through, and I am more than okay.
We drank, we ate cheese (too much), we laughed (a lot), we danced. Together with a vibrant community of stunning souls, I celebrated entering this new season.
Next to the river, underneath the Story Bridge, we brought in this new year together.
The river, always the river.