It is a strange thing to grieve a place while you’re still in it. To mourn for a time and way in which you knew a physical place. To notice the seasons, the symbols of a place and wonder when you will see them again.
These trees, this breeze, the heat, these waves, and so it goes.
As we pack and sort and hug and pack and sort some more, I am grieving and excited and anxious and sad and elated and heavy, all at the same time.
Ten years can hold a lot of living. And these last ten years certainly have. This chapter, this sun-filled, deeply rooted, riotous, formative, challenging, adventure upon adventure chapter has held more life than I could have ever imagined when I landed here in June 2012. I keep referring to my time here as “formative,” which is a shallow summary of what these years and this place have given me.
I arrived chasing a relationship that I think I already knew, deep down, was broken. We would be here for 3-5 years. He would work in the mines, I would find… something (always secondary). We would make hay while the sun shines, move back to the US, buy a house.
I leave, over ten years later, having lived such a different trajectory. I stayed, he left. I grew, I flourished, I became a citizen and formed deep roots. I did buy that house- only it was here, in Brisbane.
Ten years can hold a lot of living.
There have been adventures: camping, #vanlife, music festivals, scuba diving, learning to surf, beach days, road trips, multiday hikes, karaoke nights, too many dress up themed parties to ever begin to count, concerts and tours. Here I learned how to enjoy wine and did so with conviction. Gin too, and a brief foray into whiskey.
Summers here have been hot and fueled with adventure: the proximity to some of the best beaches in the world is something I’ve never taken lightly, despite the Sunday afternoon traffic back from the coast. I will miss these waves, these surfing adventures.
There has been growth: clawing to enter a scene I didn’t know and that didn’t know me, breaking my way into both a musical and professional environment, and when I finally did, finding joy and challenge and fulfilment. I found environments and leaders and teams who tested me, stretched me, enriched and supported and celebrated my strengths, while helping me calibrate my weaknesses. This is one of the things I’m most proud of, entering a space with zero connections and gaining the rich experience I now leave with. I have worked with some truly phenomenal people and gained experience which has shaped me deeply. Here, I learned how to grow a team, became a leader.
Professional growth aside, there have been triathlons, a 12-month yoga teacher certification, a series of brewery yoga classes, a half marathon, a lot of writing, and a lot I can’t even remember.
There have been people: my god have there been people. Friends who have seen me at my weakest, who have held me through sickness and grief, who have been the family I needed when my own was on the other side of the world. Friends who have dropped everything and been up for anything. The type of friends who will massage your feet with clary sage oil to bring on your baby, who were a haven from abuse and helped me see that for what it was, friends who watch your dog at a moments notice, who constantly remind you of the goddamn Ibis bird who shat on you at your bachelorette brunch, who joined me in trying new things, who hold you when you’re down and celebrate you when you’re up.
Of course, among those people, I found an Irishman with blue eyes and the biggest smile I’ve ever seen. And it’s with him I leave this place, and a baby with those same blue eyes.
The type of community I’ve found here, I’ve come to realise, is a rare one.
The people of course are the crux of This Australian experience. We have a family here, and while we leave to be with and closer to family, I am acutely aware that we’re also leaving one behind. It is a devastating paradox, one that I am privileged to experience; but knowing that doesn’t make it any easier to bear. And let me be honest, bearing it really does Suck. We are looking ahead with excitement and anticipation while at the same time dreading these goodbyes with a knot in the stomach, a churning in the guts.
So all of this is to say that this experience of leaving a place that has held so much connection and community for us, while knowing we are going to one that already holds the blood love of family and heritage, is complex. It is layered and heavy and joyous and complex and many things all at once. Very soon we will head off and while it is the most exciting thing, it also somehow doesn’t feel quite right to leave a place and a life that has been so good to us.
But it is time and here we are.
So to Brisbane: I have a lot to thank this city for. And to Australia, for helping me craft the overseas life I didn’t actually want ten and a bit years ago, and am now so glad I now have had the opportunity to live.
And to the friends, the community we leave behind: thanks for everything, you bloody legends. You have enriched our lives beyond measure and it’s been one hell of a good time.
You know where to find us.
We’ll be seeing you.