There are things that I should have written in the early days of this blog, representing the initial days of my move to Australia. Lately, I’ve been working through old posts to tidy up formatting and pictures after the move to WordPress (*ehem* … a year ago. My housekeeping here is about as stellar as it as in my real home), and I’m embarrassed at how shallow my early blogging was. I don’t see much that reflects how I felt. I see posts about weekend trips and doing the tourist sites in Sydney. I wrote about Australian slang and eating kangaroo, which is fun, but I didn’t share much about myself or where my mind was. I know why I only wrote about surface things – I didn’t know how to share the rest of it and I felt guilty for feeling like I did – but I should have been more open. I should have been braver.
There are people who read this blog who are considering an expat move or who are new to Australia. I’ve been honest about where I am today, and I hope that’s encouraging. But, I think it might also be helpful for me to be honest about where I was back then.
So, for anyone who feels like a literal stranger in a strange land, here is the post I wish I’d written five years ago:
I make myself leave the house every day. Or, almost every day. Some days, I wake up with good intentions, but just don’t leave because it seems so exhausting and I can’t think of where to go. I’ve been to all the attractions. I’ve been to all the parks. There’s nothing to do at the park when you’re alone, anyway. I hate the grocery store. But, it’s usually better on the days when I do leave the house. Mostly.
Partner-in-Crime goes to work every day. Many days, he comes home and then gets back to work into the evening. I don’t go to work. Before we moved here, I was the one who was always at work, so that’s something different. He always asks me what I did today, and I think I see disappointment or at least confusion when I tell him I didn’t do anything, which is why I try to go out. So that I have something to say.
I feel so exposed when I walk down the street. I’m certain that I have a big neon sign on me that blinks, “DOES NOT BELONG.” I think they all know a secret. Everybody here seems to buy their clothes from the same shop. I don’t shop there. Why don’t I have more black clothes? Would I feel less exposed if I got some tan ankle boots? Probably not. All the girls are so skinny. No joke, all of them. I’m not that. Blink. Blink. Blink. Blink.
I had a coffee date this week with the friend of a friend. Of a friend. It was the only thing on my calendar, and so I looked forward to it all week. I was so glad when she didn’t cancel, as I realize she probably wasn’t planning her whole week around this event like I was. It was so crowded in the cafe. Where do all these people come from? Thankfully, she spotted me, and we had a nice conversation. We talked about the plays we’d seen, the plays she writes, and the work I used to do. Then, she went back to her work. I had nowhere to be, so I decided just to walk. I might discover something, and then that will be my thing. I walked for two hours until I found my neighborhood. I could have walked for four hours. No one would have noticed or missed me. I’m wholly unaccountable. It’s actually like being invisible. Is invisibility better or worse than having a neon sign? Worse, I think. We all want to exist, right?
I had to go grocery shopping. I needed bread. All the loaves of bread start at $5. I’m trying so desperately hard to stick to our budget. I stand in front of the bread rack for a few minutes. I leave the store and cry. … I still need bread.
I’m snappy with Partner-in-Crime a lot of the time. Or, I sulk. He’s kind and never pushes me. That makes me more snappy. I want to have a fight so that I can yell at him for bringing me to this place that doesn’t make sense to me. But, I’m an adult and accountable for my own actions – for choosing to be here – so I don’t push this very nice man who I love and live with. Deep down, in the pit of my queasy stomach, I still wish there was someone to blame.
The milk here makes my stomach hurt. Could I be lactose intolerant? I’m going to stop drinking milk. Maybe then I’ll feel better.