10 years ago today
10 years ago today, an extroverted young women jumped on a plane and waved her family goodbye for a year. Well, not a full year really – seeing as she was only moving to a city 1hr away by plane there was a lot of visiting planned for the 12 months she was to be living away.
On her first night in this new city, the young woman attended her new church. Thankful to have friends from home now living in the same city and ministering in this church, she was looking forward to making new friends and having a fun year exploring a new city. She was surprised to find herself burst into tears in the middle of a song…seems that homesickness she had always been susceptible too hadn’t gone away, even as she neared her 21st birthday.
It was a great year and a lonely year at the same time. My wonderful housemate made such a great friend to me, really offering a lot of support and kindness as I adjusted to living out of home for the first time, and in a different state.
And of course it was the year that I met The Architect…
The Architect and I, before we were even dating.
Moving to Melbourne felt like such an adventure, and it was! The thing I found the hardest was leaving behind such a great group of friends. I am a true extrovert and in Sydney had a large group of friends and acquaintances and I loved to be out and about. Deciding to stay in Melbourne for more than a year, and in fact indefinitely, really changed the way my life looked, not just geographically but relationally.
The thing I learnt early on was that if you’re not with the people you love and who make the world feel safe, it doesn’t matter if you 1hr away of 10hrs away; you’re away. If you’ve ever moved away from home, perhaps that’s something that will make sense to you? Over the years people have suggested that I’m “only” in Melbourne, and that’s true – I am so thankful that it’s just a short plane trip home, but that doesn’t help much when you’re in a new city feeling lonely with no one to hang out with and wondering if you’ve made a mistake.
That first year I called 5 friends from home every single week. As it became apparent that I wasn’t going home at the end of the year I realised I couldn’t keep living as though my life was somewhere else, I had to invest in the place I was living. So I stopped making those weekly calls in part because I realised that it was only with two of those friends that the calls were returned; not that the others didn’t care, but not everyone is able to maintain long distance friendships like that. Those two girls who kept calling me, provided such amazing friendship and support to me through those early years of adjusting to my new life here, calling, visiting and making a simple effort to stay close. They helped me a lot, through that…and of course, Miss Awesome is now Bliss’ godmother and has visited me in Melbourne more times than I can count; if there’s ever someone you want in your corner, it’s her.
10 years on and my friendships “back home” look very different. Very different. It’s virtually impossible to stay closely connected with groups of people who live in a different place to you and have their own lives and stories. That’s not to say those friendships don’t exist anymore….some don’t, many do; they just look quite different.
In some ways I miss that life; it was so full of people whereas my life in Melbourne is much more intimate – I have some beautiful friends here, there’s just less of them and while I wouldn’t want to trade them, you can’t replicate the ‘fullness’ of the friendships you make in your school and uni years once work and motherhood arrive.
I always said once we’d been in Melbourne for 10 years it would be too late to go back to Sydney and I think that’s probably true. My life is in Melbourne now; it’s been a long and often lonely road, starting over – I have no desire to do it again.
I love Melbourne and finally, now when I get on the plane to come back I no longer feel those stabs of homesicknesses. Melbourne is home.