This is blog 26.
And, gosh… you know what that means? It’s been over six months since we moved from our comfortable life in Melbourne to our somewhat uncomfortable equivalent here in Silicon Valley. What a journey it has been. I want to thank you, dear reader, for being a part of it.
Do you know what I did last week? I travelled to London for work. And that really got me thinking. I started reflecting, once again, on this move to the United States. Why? Because London was a place where I was once a newcomer. It was a place where I set up a life. It was a place that I loved. That I still love.
You see, London was the first city I lived in as an adult expat. I moved there in 2006 after tiring of my hectic social life in Melbourne. I quit a toxic job, left Australia, and started travelling around Europe with Cam.
When I landed in London, I flopped onto my brother’s sofa, incredibly broke, and not entirely sure what the future might hold for me.
I found London to be an odd place. Full of beauty, yes. But also full of grumpy shopkeepers and people who greeted me with a confusing ‘y’alright?’ (Yes, I’m fine! Do I not look alright?). I suddenly had a winter birthday after 28 years of celebrating in summer. I couldn’t open bank accounts without rental agreements or utilities bills in my name. But I couldn’t get a rental agreement or utilities in my name without a bank account. I mean, what the hell.
It was a challenging time. But it was an exciting one, too.
I found a job, a place to live, and a bunch of friends. I built a life there, a life that I loved. London was home to me. I’d fly back to Australia for weddings and feel like I was on holiday. And then I’d fly back to London, land at Heathrow and feel the comfort of what was really beginning to feel like a place that was mine.
And then, in 2012, I moved back to Melbourne. A switch had flicked. I needed it. It was quite the adjustment and I wish I could remember more about what reverse culture shock I grappled with upon my return. I know I was outraged at having to wait twenty minutes for a train. And I missed M&S and being able to get same-day delivery on my online shopping. I missed my job, my friends, my colleagues, and the ability to travel relatively easily and cheaply.
I missed a lot. But you know what? I did it. I mean, look at me. I did it. I moved. I struggled. I came out okay on the other side.
Being back in London this past week has reminded me of my strength; of what comes of reaching for, grasping at, clawing through struggle and finding a new life on the other side.
This past week, I’ve seen beautiful friends and ex-colleagues. I walked the streets and caught the tube (ah, life without a car!). Sure, I could see the imperfections (it was dirtier than I remembered, for example) but there was also comfort in the familiar (the ground floor is marked ‘G’, not 1; driving on the left; spelling I recognise). I could see myself easily settling back into life there. Although I guess life with kids would be a hell of a different ball game, right?
But you know what? It wouldn’t matter anyway.
I have evidence, now, that I can do this. No matter what gets thrown at me, I’ve got this. Down. Nailed it. In the bag.
So here I go. Back to the Valley.
My first impressions were of ugly buildings and so, so much beige. They were of obscenely high rents and a disgustingly inflated cost of living. I’m still living and experiencing those impressions but, you know what? I’m also beginning to see the upside of life here.
We have a lovely network of friends. We have jobs we enjoy. We’re exploring on weekends and making plans to visit exciting places in California. The kids have adapted really well and we’ve managed to find pre-schools and schools that feel like good choices. We’re not just settling in anymore. Things are really coming together.
It actually feels like we might be, well, living here now.
So, maybe one day in the future, I’ll be living in another country, and I’ll travel back to Silicon Valley, and I’ll be hit with the same feelings of fondness and nostalgia that enveloped me when I visited London last week.
I really am looking forward to creating those memories. And you know what? Once again, I have a fire in my belly.
I can’t WAIT to see what the future holds. It’s an incredible feeling.