Yesterday marked three months to the day since I had my last fish & chips, classic SF-Sunday Bloody Mary and jetted off for Hawaii en route to Sydney International. By no coincidence, recent days have been nostalgic and quite reflective. After a long month of adventures, reunions, goodbyes and new beginnings (more on these later), I am happy to say that I’m feeling symbolically settled here! I cut the tag off my bathmat and removed some from my throw pillows; I hung a shelf, more Kodak prints and even a local painting above my bed.
Last weekend, I awoke to my first relentless and rainy downpour in Australia. It felt mystical and a little sappy, the type of metaphorical weather that causes us to snuggle deeper into our covers -- and feelings. It begged the natural, rainy day behaviour: sleeping in, opening the windows (just a crack though), reflecting on sad things, and thinking about Mother Earth’s reasons for crying. Her too!?
The emotions could have been due to exhaustion; in October alone, I traveled to Melbourne, LA, SF and back to SYD for a whirlwind reunion with near all of my favourite people. In this shortened, time-travel-filled month, I experienced my first international trip from Oz and first visit home, my first entry back to the US and my first time at my old office and former home in months. On top of inaugural logistics feats, I also attended my first wedding of a dear old friend, walked down my first aisle (as a bridesmaid people calm down), had my first fling and played in my first soccer game in at least four years! Finally, I am currently witnessing the first (and an epic) Dodgers World Series in my lifetime, from the distance of my first international home during my first bout of living outside of CA — study abroad not included. It’s been exhilarating and exhausting.
While lounging in Chelsea’s apartment back in SF -- perhaps only the third of all places in the world I’d currently consider home -- she asked me if I felt as though I’ve been “holding back” from truly immersing in my new city, knowing that I’d be coming back to CA for a visit with all of my people. My first thoughts were defensive and insecure; I’ve been trying so hard, saying yes, meeting countless new people and adventuring enough to wipe myself out!
But maybe, deep down, I was awaiting quality time with my family so fiercely that I wasn’t pursuing life here as actively as I could. Instagram stories paint my picture-perfect moments: charting new waters, trying gelato whenever I can and capturing forever-novel views like those with the Harbour Bridge framing the top of them. But there are hard moments too. I miss my “family” (in all meanings of the word) and long to be a part of the fam-events and moments, from holidays to average Tuesdays. I haven’t found my rhythm, my comfort meals, nor my shortcuts; I still step into traffic and trip over flaws in my sidewalks!
Despite my doubts and recent writer’s block, maybe every moment to this point has happened at the exact pace and intersection it was meant to. What if this annoying and view-impeding scaffolding outside my new bedroom windows was placed there with a purpose: to help me truly hear the pitter patter of this first cleansing rain outside my new home, and to oblige me to pause, look inward and shift my perspective?
In October, as it turns out, I had strategically and subconsciously planned a jam-packed week of fun for my return. The highlights of this first week, now dubbed as my recommended preventative homesickness-remedy, were as follows:
Monday night: Book club! Not only did I absolutely inhale an inspirational memoir (read: Love Warrior) and adopt an instantaneous community of power-females; I explored a new part of town, enjoyed my first taste of suburban adult-living in Sydney and got ideas for my eventual dream nook. Our host, a friend of a first-friend through LinkedIn, was hospitable and warm, open and nurturing. There were teachers and tech gals and beauty consultants and a psychologist. Like-minded women with a wider diversity of thought than I see on the daily invoked total encouragement.
Tuesday night: Soccer game. Against my most primal fears and insecurities, I said yes to playing with a co-ed crew at work who have constantly welcomed me but simultaneously intimidated! Of course, everyone was nicer than I could have imagined and similar unique in stories and backgrounds. The best part of yes was the rooftop beer schooner shared after the game in celebration of our win. I felt totally exhilarated and weirdly nostalgic to be back on a grassy field like on so many adolescent weeknights…plus, I got an assist!
Wednesday and Friday: Plenty of LinkedIn love. My team, delivering on Linkedin’s newest business line in the Australian fiscal’s year’s rising summer season, decided to host a first-of-its-kind client event: it fostered mingling, brainstorming and learning from a few industry front-runners through a panel of speakers. It was my favourite type of work activity! Meeting new clients and learning from our internal rockstar about the learning and development industry renewed my enthusiasm for all that I’m learning in this new job. The other occasion I returned to was my favourite day of the month at LinkedIn: “InDay,” where the company let’s us get out to invest in ourselves, the company or the world. In one day, I learned about an Australian charity benefiting a world unknown in Cambodia, sat through a workshop on cultivating a path toward my own career dreams, AND did my first-ever presentation to the Sydney office on the platform I work on: LinkedIn Learning. Nerd alert! See below.
Wednesday eve & the weekend: Fun by the sea. Finally, I got face-time with my old friend The Pacific during a Friday adventure, day-drinks for a departing teammate and sushi dinner with a new friend. There is nothing to make you appreciate your presence in a place like a “going-away party” for someone else! Seeing the gorgeous harbour in Woolloomooloo, Bondi Beach again at twilight or my second favourite bay — that beneath the Opera House — up close instantly made me feel at home again and reconnected. I know that ocean like the back of my hand. I knew I loved it here for a reason! Aussie treats help too (see below).
The best parts of my routine which I was happy to return to:
The highlights (in hindsight) of my first ninety days:
The day I left my first Bae and her golden gated arms, I couldn’t have guessed I’d be coasting beneath her sister Down Under’s iron crown a few months later.
Saturday, rising before 4:30a (by some natural and unexpected phenomena) and showering off my fatigue rewarded me with a new friend and neighbour, a warm mocha awaiting me and a view unrivalled by any other in Sydney. I don’t remember another time I’ve risen for that kind of sunrise… unless it was for a flight or dreaded soccer tournament road trip as a kid! I dressed in my favourite Sydney tourist get-up — not unlike my Halloween costume from the night prior and yep, you guessed it: wore my gray vest again — and jaunted a whole three minutes up to Liverpool Street in Surry. My carpool saviour was named Corinne from Byron, and we got to the Lavender Bay docks (new territory!) to meet the remaining five females plus host-guides and coffee-providers. Ben (who runs the tour company Sydney by Kayak) and Danny (the cute photographer) loaded our gear, gave us a few paddling tips and pushed us out into the shark-filled harbour. Somehow, my kayak filled with neither water nor dread. The flags of my new finish line in the distance? The HB and the O House herself.
Two long days, twenty new friends, two harbour crossings and two home-cooked meals later, I’ve earned the entire bowl of popcorn-for-four I'm eating while watching Stranger Things on NetflixAU. Stranger things have happened. I kind of wish I had a giant Diet Coke and Mom to share it with me.
I can’t believe the miles or waves I’ve covered in the last twelve hours let alone past three months (especially since after the most serene and pleasant kayak in recent memory, I headed over to Manly). I don’t know of any other route/mode of transit combo — except perhaps kayaking through the same waters — that I love more than the breezy passenger ferry past Sydney’s main edges to the north islands like Manly Beach. I indulged in a sun-bath and most of the lyrical soundtrack to Moana, of course. As I FaceTimed Summer briefly and giggled about our old pastimes, recent lovers and upcoming adventures, I realised how much I miss comforts like her presence, our apartment... Simba! My old house and even my old ferry from Sausalito; will the novelty and amazingness of here soon feel like home?
I realised, also thanks to Summer and some of the other friend-wisdoms I collected whilst back home: I don’t have to build a replica of my dreamy-seeming SF life here in Oz. The only constant is change, and as roomies and Villa North Beach and people have changed in the past few months, so have I. I couldn’t have been more blessed with friends and discoveries across my first Bae. Maybe here, at twenty-eight and in a new role and country, I will have a new number of friends I call family. Maybe I’ll try long-time traditions like soccer and love them; maybe I’ll retire marathons and embrace yoga, a few new ones! I won’t rely on old comforts but I’ll keep exploring and indulging in things I love.
Wish you were here!
A broad down under