I suppose hitting breaking point was inevitable. This year has been nothing if not a series of crushing lows, followed by surface-level highs; a comped night in a five star hotel; a sunrise on a beach with my sister, the type of Instagrammable travel that many could only ever dream of; the footloose freedom that unemployment affords me – undoubtedly coveted by those tied to full time jobs, mortgages and unruly children.
It’s funny, isn’t it, how life can look from the outside? Our presumptions and beliefs on what constitutes an enviable existence. That should someone’s social shares feature sunshine and travel and endless sweeps of sandy beaches, it’s fair to conclude that all is dandy in their world.
And yet, of course, it often isn’t. Much of 2017 has been a succession of impossible decisions, regrets, if-onlys and blind faith that things will turn out ok, despite what seems like endless obstacles. I’ve been broke beyond my wildest nightmares, exhausted by the lengths I’ve gone to in order to navigate the Australian visa system, disillusioned by LA, and living out of a suitcase has taken its toll. Yet despite it all, the ups and the downs and the stresses and the strains, never once did I doubt that Bondi was my home; that my future was on the sunny shores of Australia.
Until, one day, I did. I’ve struggled to settle in LA; to find my feet in a city so relentless and widespread, and a series of events led to a last minute trip back to the UK. I arrived at the beginning of the week on the sort of autumnal day that reminded me how much I love this time of year; the turning of the leaves, the bright blue skies, the sharp bite of wind. I met up with one of my cousins yesterday for a drink on the bustling street I used to live on in London; a place where I have nothing but fond memories, and as I filled him in on the past nine months; my three months in Bali, my sojourn in LA and life back in Bondi, he asked me where I actually considered I lived. And for the first time in the duration of the past two turbulent years, I didn’t know. All of a sudden I had second thoughts over where I truly count as home, and whether pursuing a dream of life down under is truly worth it all.
The past few days, despite being endlessly busy, have been my very favourite kind; bike rides along the canal, autumn walks and cosy catch-ups and bottles of bubbles with friends in London. I find myself perusing the Guardian jobs website, wondering whether to apply for the jobs I’ve seen – jobs where visas wouldn’t be an issue and I could get back into a career I love. I think about where I might live if I came back, the friends and family I could see, the weekend trips to Europe I could take; the money I could make.
Saying goodbye to London is never easy, but it’s usually laced with excitement at returning to Australia. Yet for the very first time, I’m no longer sure I want to go back.
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