In February 2011 things changed.
My boyfriend reached the end of his visa and I no longer wanted to be in Sydney without the life we had created there. We’d lived together and spent almost every free minute in each others company and I was about to be alone in a city full of memories.
I was lucky to have so many great friends but when you travel you learn quickly that everything is temporary – work, people, accommodation, relationships. It’s an understanding that you have created a life with borrowed components.
It makes you the happiest and the loneliest you can imagine.
He left Sydney for Thailand and I left Sydney for Surfers Paradise. Surely the Las Vegas of the Gold Coast is the cure…
Actually no. But who knew?
Turns out that no amount of goon will make you happy when you’re alone. I tried like a real trooper though.
Soon, the time came to get out of Surfer’s Paradise while I could still actually remember I’d been there. Party over, I got the Greyhound to Brisbane to catch up with some friends and try to get back in to work.
I got the job I really wanted. I started working in Spring Hill as PA to the company director in a diamond studio.
An amazing boss who brought gifts back at lunchtimes, surrounded by beautiful diamonds, walking to and from work in the Queensland sun and earning 40% more than I ever had in the UK. Happy?
Err, no, actually.Well, not after 6pm anyway.
Back at the hostel, I’m the world’s oldest bunk-bed dweller, I share a kitchen with a 100 people, there’s usually a sexual favour exchange going on in the showers, someone’s slamming the light on every hour through the night and twice a week one idiot or another likes to set off the fire alarm at 3am.
It’s standing out in the street, in someone else’s shorts and an inside-out t-shirt at 3am, that I realise I no longer belong. People around me are laughing and seizing the moment to sit on the pavement with a box of goon. They’re calling me over to join in, thrilled at the unexpected party opportunity unfolding before them.
Me? I’m annoyed at being woken up when I have a job to go to tomorrow. I’m incapable of drinking what looks and smells like urine at 3am. I’m not even interested in perving on the gorgeous Aussie firemen!
Why? I took a good job that I wanted to do well in. The boss trusted me and it wouldn’t even occur to me to let him down. They took jobs in cafes and showed up when they were sober enough to walk there.
I smiled my way through the warm, vinegary white wine, sitting dangerously close to a pile of vomit and realised I no longer had what it takes to make the most of being ‘free spirited’.
I hadn’t noticed it coming but I’d changed. I had outgrown my environment and I was the only one who knew it. I was about to be the loneliest party girl all over again.