Today is October 16, meaning we arrived here almost exactly 18 months ago. I wouldn’t say the last six months have been particularly momentous compared to the preceding year, but in a way that’s what kind of remarkable: I think I’m finally happy and content here.
That’s not to say there aren’t still things that drive me crazy and always will — the supermarkets, the annoying Internet set-up, the lack of good shopping/cost of clothes, the time difference and distance from home are the most prominent day-to-day issues that spring to mind. And yet.
I feel like for the first year or so, I railed so hard against these things. I spent so much time looking forward to the moment we’d be able to move back to New York. It’s sort of like when a screaming toddler wails and wails about something, and they expend so much energy freaking out that by the time they calm down they practically forget what they cried about in the first place. Then they look around, take a deep breath, and realize that things aren’t so bad after all. (Can you tell I threw a lot of tantrums when I was little?)
I’m not quite sure when it happened, but it’s sort of like I’ve gotten into such a routine that I finally stopped sweating all that stuff that maybe wasn’t small, but is somehow less a part of my life now than it was before. Starting my job in February has clearly been a big part of that. Not only do I love what I do and feel like I actually have a purpose. but I work with a fantastic group of people– perhaps the most fun office I’ve ever been in. I wouldn’t say I look forward to every minute of every work day, but it’s a great feeling to come home at the end of a work week and feel like I’ve actually accomplished something, and to laugh and enjoy myself in the process is just icing on the cake.
For so long I wanted to become friends with actual Australians, but got the sense that my otherness and my transience would preclude me from developing any real friendships. Working in an office has given me that sense of permanence, with the bonus being that my co-workers get to interact with an American and perhaps realize that we aren’t all obese bible & gun-toting, McMansion-dwelling douchebags with an over-inflated sense of superiority. Don’t get me wrong, I get plenty of cultural ribbing (and I’ve definitely lived up to certain stereotypes with my TV obsession and whining about the lack of good shopping here), but it’s all in good fun.
In addition to work I have my gym routine (starting last January I started to become somewhat of a spinning fanatic), and getting into good shape has really helped me maximize my running (when my knees will let me). One of my favorite runs is just to head up New South Head Road along the water to Rose Bay, and each time I take that run and look across the gorgeous harbor, I feel like I’m a little bit happier. Between the mild weather and the great scenery, it’s impossible to not want to be outdoors enjoying yourself here.
So yeah, things are good. The absence of good friends and family certainly still stings, and although I feel like I’ve become great friends with many of my co-workers, at the end of the day I know that they have friends and families and social networks of their own that exist outside the office. Sometimes I find myself feeling a bit like David Brent (from the original British Office), whose social life revolved around work. I feel a little bit pathetic, but I just haven’t figured out how people are able to come here and instantly develop best friendships. Perhaps it’s too late for me, but if you have tips for other aspiring expats, please feel free to leave them in the comments!
Anyway, I guess my point is that finding this comfortable routine means that I haven’t had so much to blog about, both because I’ve had so much less to be frustrated with and complain about, and because life has just become normal, and comfortable. I certainly want to make the most of our remaining time here – however long that may be – and I’ve recently come to the stunning realization that part of me won’t want to leave. Who’d a thunk it?