This day is an important day in my life so far. This day exactly three years ago, after 3271km of driving with my dad over 5 days and a breakdown in outback Queensland, I arrived in Cairns to live.
The most common question I get asked is “so what brought you to Cairns?” and now, honestly, I can’t really remember the full reason, it was really just a bit of everything. It’s funny looking back, it’s not something I would comfortably do now, it was just so out of character for me to do something so risky.
I came to Cairns on holiday in 2011 with my boyfriend at the time after suffering the winter with glandular fever. Maybe I was drunk on sunshine for the whole 10 days but there was something about this place, I was instantly in love. There was always something happening, the whole city had a completely relaxed vibe to it, and it was perfectly warm every day we were here. And I think that’s what sold me, as I’m convinced I’m part reptile, I chase warmth.
Fast forward 18 months and said relationship was winding down, I was unhappy, most of my friends had moved on from Hamilton and I was feeling lost and craving adventure, especially after travelling Europe 6 months before. I had been saying since high school that I wanted to leave my home town but I had always made excuses as to why it wasn’t the right time. And now I was thinking it was the right time. I snapped. I’d had enough of the cold, I’d had enough of the town, so I made my big announcement and it was decided (by mum) that dad would accompany me on the long drive north. So I gave my notice at work and booked a quick trip to Cairns to have a look at a few houses to move into and drop around some resumes. After postponing a week for my netball grand final and a lot of teary goodbyes at work and home, we packed my life into my little Nissan Tiida and it was time to go.
I moved into a house with another woman who had held a room for me for a month out on the Northern Beaches. I spent the first two weeks laying on the beach, shopping and exploring the city, and occasionally looking for a job. I was living the life of luxury. Two weeks later I had a job and my new life started.
I always thought I would give it two years and probably go back to Victoria and settle down. Two months in I knew I wasn’t going back, and I think my mum knew that as well. I really believe this is what I was meant to do, otherwise it wouldn’t have been so easy in the beginning.
That’s not to say it’s been easy. I dated a psychopath for a month not long after arriving that I’m still scarred from. I hated my first job and was essentially fired via an email. My housemate didn’t end up being a particularly nice person, and was incredibly rude to Mitch when he first started staying at the apartment. I used all of my savings and was very quickly broke. I have struggled to make friends. And at the start of this year I was making preparations to pack up and leave it all behind after a brief break up.
But I’ve learnt a lot as well over these last few years. I’ve never been a particularly sociable person, but it hurt so much when I had a bit of a going away party and three people turned up. And one of them was my ex. That made me realise that what I was doing was the right thing. And moving to a city where I literally knew no one I spent a lot of time alone, and it’s really not a bad or scary thing. I actually quite like having alone time. I also learnt not to say no to any experience to come my way, and I’ve made a lot of memories from things I wouldn’t have done normally because they were outside my comfort zone. I’ve also made a small group of wonderful friends that I know will be there for me in tough times. I’ve also really learnt who my real friends are, and although most people know that I am terrible with keeping in touch, there are a small few that I feel my distance has strengthened our friendship, and it makes it that much more special when I do come home again and we see each other. I think it’s the same with my family, it’s really made me appreciate them all so much more, and I miss them all a lot. I still cry each time I have to say goodbye because it is usually months before I see them again.
And now, I may not have any of my shit together. I’ve finally scratched my itchy feet and for now I’ve got all the travel out of my system and I think I’m ready to settle down and be an adult. I’m ready to buy a house and buy a new car and start a family but it’s not the right time or the smart idea to do any of that. I have very little money, I don’t have a stable job and I haven’t submitted any assessments for the course I enrolled in three months ago. But I’m happy. I don’t have much, my life isn’t as exciting as I make out on social media, but I have everything I need – a house that I look forward to coming home to every day with a guy I love, and our two boofhead furbabies. Plus I also now get super excited for weekend Bunnings trips and doing the gardening and buying things like mattresses. And that will have to make do until I can make the rest of the steps happen. I’m young, I get that, I’ve got time. I’m just ready to get this show on the road.
Lots of love,
Home – Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros
The lyric “home is wherever I’m with you” hits me in the feels every time. I think I’ll have this song in my wedding one day.