The Wizardess of Oz

An American's Adventures in Australia and Beyond

Category: Internal Ramblings (page 1 of 4)

Thoughts, Philosophy, and Other Musings

Listening to the Universe

clancy

I’d always believed that writing was a gift bestowed only to the few who possessed the elusive talent.

But over the last few months, I’ve been looking into that a lot. And most blogs about writing urge: Practice. Discipline. Writing is something you must practice every day. Set a goal. Achieve it. I always knew I wanted to write, but I never knew how. My English and Journalism degrees were quickly discarded when nothing attractive presented itself in the post-colliegiate ‘real’ world, and writing dry news articles was more heartbreaking to my romantic sensibilities than pivoting Excel spreadsheets, which is what I ended up doing for 7 years instead. So when life threw a relatively interesting storyline to me, I used it as a source for my practice, and my discipline. Never mind that I didn’t realize it at the time.

The concept of beavering away at art never sounded very artistic to me. What true artist can’t just sit down at her canvas and conjure a masterpiece? But the more I thought about it, the more I realized it was true. What is art but practice and discipline, with the leavening agent of imagination? Every art form has its laws, which are learned before they are flouted. Every painter has to learn how to hold a brush. Every writer has to become comfortable with holding the pen.

So that’s what this blog has been for me. My flat, unleavened offering to the world. My practice, my discipline. My weekly word count, without the imagination necessary to really call it art. My attempts to capture people and places and see if I can’t bring them to life in words. Pulling apart my own emotions publicly to see what resonates.

I didn’t realize exactly what it was that I wanted until I was floating in the Andaman Sea, staring up at the wispy clouds overhead and really trying to piece together what I wanted from my future. And I thought about how much I had enjoyed writing about my travels the day before. Just the act of tapping out the words had given me a sense of bliss, writing without an agenda other than my own. And a thought floated from my subconscious into my consciousness like the wispy clouds overhead: I should write a novel. And at that moment, the previously placid water cradling me swelled, bobbing my entire body in the most pleasant way, as if the universe was excitedly egging me on. I smiled (the bobbing was really fun), and let my thoughts drift again, pushing the idea back to subconsciousness where it belonged. But ten minutes later, it floated back to the surface, and no sooner had I fixed on it again than the swell returned. It felt like I was being gently woken, like a kind voice was saying, ‘Wake up, I’m trying to tell you something important.’

So I’ve decided to listen. I have spent the past 12 months collecting places, personalities, experiences. My brain has slowly leaked out all the clutter I put into it about negotiating deals, balancing budgets, managing clients. I’ll give it the good old college try, and see if I can’t crack out a novel. I can’t promise it will be good, but I can promise that I will at least do it.

It’s frightening to put this out there and actually make myself accountable to it. Even with all my desperate raving about broken hearts and the like in years past, it’s probably the most personal thing I’ve written here. My plans. My refusal to get myself back into the ‘real world’ for a while longer, if at all.

Here’s to chasing dreams.

Writing1

Give Yourself Permission

There are far more reasons why you shouldn’t travel than reasons why you should.

It’s easy to get lost in the reasons why not and lose your nerve to book the flight. But I want you to do it anyway. Because for some reason, we can’t seem to allow ourselves the permission to actually do what we want to do. As if we’re not the masters of each minute of our lives, free to do with each what we wish. We choose to allow our responsibilities and commitments hem us into a life that feels like it’s not our own anymore, a life where it seems everyone else is in the driver’s seat but us.

Choice

I know I certainly felt that way. I was burning out on my career in advertising, realizing that too many people other than myself had the power to make or break my success, no matter how hard I worked or how much talent I had. But I was addicted to my early success in the field, and the money (the poorest of reasons to stay) they were paying me to do it. I was realizing the Sydney was never going to be home, that I missed my family, friends, and the culture of America, where you can be outspoken and opinionated and it’s seen as an entrepreneurial attitude rather than an insubordinate know-it-all. But I had gone through the effort of building a whole life here. A gave up an entire life full of friends and love in Seattle to come here.

And then I found out that a friend was dying, that she had less than a year to live. And I realized I was just making excuses, I was just letting my life run me instead of running my life. And I decided to stop all that and give myself permission to do what I had always wanted to do: travel.

Change

When I was preparing for this trip, I read dozens of blogs and even a couple of books. A recurring theme in all of them? The authors devoted a huge amount of time trying to help people overcome their objections to traveling. Once I started traveling, I heard a lot of ‘I’m jealous/I wish I could do that.’

But you CAN!

Here are some of the top reasons I’ve heard why not, and what I think about that:

1. “I can’t afford that!”

Yes, you can. Not having the money to travel comes down to two things: not making it a priority or not being creative enough.

If you don’t want to sacrifice a few things to set aside some starter cash for long term travel, then you don’t really want to do it. And if that’s the case you should be honest and say “Oh that sounds so nice, but my overpriced latte/shoe/cocktail addiction is much more important to me.” I pretty much didn’t have a social life to speak of for the last several months before my travels, because I thought about what every single dollar I was spending meant. I’d look longingly into my favorite cafe on my way to work, then remind myself that price of one flat white would feed me for an entire day in Thailand. And I would walk on by.

You also don’t need to have the full cost of traveling in your bank account by the time you leave. Because guess what?! You can actually work abroad! I’m not going to go into all the details of where and how because so many other bloggers have already covered the topic so much better than I could have, but if you have enough cash to survive for a couple of months, that’s all you need to get started. Just make sure you have a plan for how to get an income again after that point.

Resources: Working Holiday Visas, Working Overseas, Budgeting for Travel, Ways to Save on the Road

2. “My boyfriend/best friend can’t come with me. I don’t want to go alone.”

Time to put on your big girl panties, because you’re going to have to go alone. You’ll find that the older you get, the harder it is to align friends’ schedules with your own. When I was 22 we managed to get a group of eight to Costa Rica. Four years later I was only able to get one of my friends to come to Mexico with me.

My point is, if you really like to travel, you’re going to have to get comfortable going on your own at some point, or you’ll never go anywhere. And your dreams and desires really shouldn’t be dictated by the number of vacation days your friends get. You won’t be lonely, you will meet people (even if you’re socially awkward introvert), and you will be safe on your own. No excuses allowed.

3. “I’m married/engaged/have a kid/have a pet”

For those of you using the serious relationship excuse, I’m really hoping you are in a relationship where your partner understands and respects your dreams and desires and encourages you to go after them. As long as that’s the case, there are a dozen ways to get around this obstacle, and each is as unique as the relationship. You could mutually agree on a specified amount of time to be away, you could have your partner join you for the first few weeks/months, it’s really whatever you’re both comfortable with in your relationship.

My boyfriend popped the question just before I left for my trip! Rather than try to stress and wedding plan on the road, I’ve decided to leave it until I’m back in the US. And we decided what the maximum allowable time to be apart was (3 months), and he scheduled vacations for where I was going to be at those 3 month intervals.

Kids can be a little trickier, but it’s not impossible. There is a family who sailed around the world with their kids, and I met a woman in Siem Reap who moved around Europe with her first son for two years immediately after he was born. With pets, you may have to rely on friends and family to help you out, though there is one couple who travel with their dog.

The point is, nothing is impossible. Just think creatively and you can find a solution.

Excuase

When They Say “Be Safe,” I Want to Say…

“Uh, from what?!”

Look, I’m not saying that one should foolhardily rush to another country having done zero research, and then run around with cash falling out of their pockets and not expect anything to happen to them. But I’ve been traveling in Southeast Asia. In many ways, it’s safer than Europe!

The number one admonishment I received from friends and family in the US when I set off for my travels was to “be safe,” as if the Yakuza was going to pop out on any corner and kidnap me for ransom. In stark contrast, my Australian friends and colleagues all said, “Have fun!” In a country where international travel is de riguer, it’s already assumed that one will do the necessary research to understand how best to keep one’s self and belongings in (relatively) the same condition in which you left. The only concern, then, is that you milk that travel for every single drop of fun you can get out of it.

As a woman, I’m already always on the defensive no matter where I am – a dark alley at home in Southern California could have the same perils that one in Hanoi could. Potentially worse, considering how much better-armed Americans are vs. Vietnamese! Acting foolishly in either place could have disastrous consequences, which is something that has been drilled into me from a very early age.

So when everyone tells me to be safe, it’s hard not to occasionally hear: “You haven’t properly prepared.” Which is annoying. But actually, what they’re probably really saying is, “I have never been to that place you’re going, therefore it’s scary and unknown, which means it’s definitely not as safe as where I am at this very moment.” I don’t hear it as much when I visit a ‘Western’ destination, but throw in a vast cultural difference and suddenly danger lurks on every corner.

Here’s a quick tip: That is so not true.

As someone who regularly walks the line between fearlessness and stupidity, I can assure you that your concerns for my safety are unfounded. I have followed travel safety tips and made sure to talk to my hotel staff about scams and common crimes on tourists, and by being smart, aware, and listening to my instincts, I have been completely fine. And I’ve been able to have fun! Traveling alone through Asia is not a 24/7 exercise in hiding in corners, scanning crowds for the potential felon. The only city I heard to be extra vigilant was Phnom Penh, city of the bag snatchers, so I just made sure my bra was my purse. I had to do the exact same thing on Las Ramblas in Barcelona 10 years ago, a place even more notorious for thieves! And a place where my own sister had her purse stolen out from under her just a few years ago.

Of course, I’ll have probably jinxed myself and my next post will be a tearful rant about how all my things have been stolen. But I have a feeling I’m more likely to fall victim to an airline losing my bags than a thief from any place I’ve visited here in Asia.

But don’t listen to me! Come find out for yourself. Come see that the Vietnamese don’t hate Americans at all (even in the North), come see how the Filipinos stare at you because they really want to be your friend but are too shy to say hi, be the guest of a wonderful Muslim family in Thailand, and realize that I am safe. It’s the only way to really know for sure.

Fact

Fact

A Different Kind of Extremist

Yesterday morning, I woke up to a gorgeous Sydney summer morning. It was the kind of day that made you grateful you lived here, perfect temperature, finally free of the oppressive humidity from last week’s storms. I was running late, as is my usual Monday routine, waiting for the bus and getting increasingly frustrated with each minute that ticked me closer to being really late for work.

The bus finally came, and as I walked up the steps to my office, a man walked into a cafe in Martin Place, took out a gun, and proceeded to take several cafe workers and patrons hostage. At 2:10 a.m. this morning, several hostages took advantage of their sleepy captor and rushed the door, awakening the hostage-taker, who fired his weapon and killed one of the hostages. Police swept in, and as the turmoil subsided three people were dead, including the gunman.

Rogue gunmen (with or without religious affiliations) are a much more common occurrence in the US, but in virtually weapon-free Australia, these events really shook everyone. By early afternoon, trying to get a taxi home was next to impossible as office workers streamed out of the city and back to their homes in the suburbs. There was little else on TV other than coverage of the hostage situation.

Listening to the news yammer on about ‘lone wolf’ terrorism and religious extremism whenever things like this happen is exhausting. Seeing racist reactions on social media is depressing. The men who commit acts such as these are hoping only to foment more of what they peddle: hatred from human beings toward other human beings. They want us to look at our differences, to blow them up to be so big that we could never connect with each other. To isolate ourselves from each other, to make it impossible to see the beauty within others.

We have a choice to react one of two ways: Give them what they want and approach life with fear, or choose to meet hatred with love. Overwhelming, all-encompassing, unconditional love.

Even those who hurt us should be met with love. Even this man who killed innocent people should be met with love. The only way to truly achieve peace amongst each other is to drown out all the hatred with its counterpoint. To accept that misguided people will always try to provoke hatred, and to simply love them anyway. To look past the horrific things they do and say and see the humanity in that person, and love that. It’s a tough pill to swallow, to be sure. And it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to prevent senseless loss of life. But if we can put enough love into the world, if we can look at every single human being that we see as just that, a human being created for love, then I have every hope that this kind of energy can drown out the hatred and fear that has created so much pain. Let’s do things like the #illridewithyou movement that started last night, instead of allowing acts of hate to beget more hate.

Let’s be extremists of a different kind. Lets be fanatically devoted to loving the people around us, known or unknown to us. Let’s show the world what a devotion to kindness, understanding, and peace looks like. Let’s bomb the planet with compassion for our fellow human beings, no matter what they try to do us. That’s a cause I can get behind.

Love

As seen in my neighborhood a couple of months ago

You Gotta Keep Yourself Scared

Scared

Lately, I’ve been writhing with dissatisfaction. I have no idea where it’s coming from or why I’m feeling it, which makes it incredibly difficult to find a way to stop it. I end my days feeling unsettled, mildly unhappy, and completely bewildered. Little things tick me off. I sometimes overreact, and this makes me behave in a way that I don’t like. I’ve been twisting this new mentality around in my mind for the last few weeks, trying to solve the mystery of just what the hell is going with me.

My lightbulb moment came as I was self-lurking my LinkedIn profile and reflecting on my career of 3 years ago. Back then, I was thrown into things so far out of my depth that I had to run as fast as I could to make sure I could make them happen. I was quietly terrified all the time – sitting in meetings with people two or three times my age and having them actually listen to me. I was leading the meetings – I was telling one of the largest companies on the planet what to do, and they were doing it. All I really had to rely on at that point was mild creativity and a lot of common sense. I certainly didn’t have the years of experience to know what I was doing. I was making it up as I went along. And I was succeeding. Not every time, but most of the time. In retrospect, it’s astounding. At the time, it was motivating.

Reflecting back on that time in my career is humbling, and it’s also helped me uncover what I think is wrong with me. I’m not scared anymore.

I know what I’m doing now. I rarely get put into situations in my career where I feel out of my league. But maybe I need that. Whenever I felt like that in the past, I usually managed to reach down deep somewhere and pull out something groundbreaking. I have the years of experience, and have probably packed more experience into those years than many people do in an entire career. But I think I’m coming to a point where even my dynamic and social career is starting to feel repetitive and monotonous. Where I know more than I don’t know. And after that, it just becomes splitting hairs and debating the best way to phrase the idea, instead of the idea itself. And I’m the type who prefers substance over style.

So I’ve taken the first step: I’ve identified the problem. And though I have absolutely no idea what form the solution will take yet, I know that I gotta keep myself scared.

Scared to Death

Breakup Makeup

I have a friend who I love dearly, and for good reason. She is funny, sassy, clever, quick with a one liner, and we spent most of our early twenties turning into adults together. I have frequently referred to her as my heterosexual life partner, and thus far in our lives she has been, even through various moves to different states and countries on both our parts.

But there is a recurring theme in her life that drives me absolutely nuts: it takes her 5 or 6 times to break up with a serious boyfriend who is just not a match for her. For the last several years it’s been the following pattern with anyone serious:

Friend: I met a guy
Me: Ooh! Tell me more.
Friend: He’s just a guy, it’s not really serious but he’s pretty sweet. We’ll see how it goes.

**Couple of Weeks Later**

Friend: I think I’m starting to like this guy. He said/did (enter sweet thing here).
Me: Awwww he sounds sweet! (Insert inappropriate question about guy here [I can’t keep the dialog 100% authentic since my dad reads this])
Friend: You’re a pervert. But yeah, we’ll see how it goes. I don’t really want anything serious.

**Couple of weeks later, Facebook status changes**

Me: Oh I see we’re FBO now?
Friend: Yeah he’s great (proceeds to list great qualities)
Me: Sounds like a keeper!

**Several months to a year later**

Friend: I don’t think it’s working out, we’ve been fighting a lot about X or Y, there’s no reasoning with him, I’m trying to make it work because I love him though.
Me: (Offers some sort of relevant advice). I’m sure you guys can work it out.

**Weeks later**

Friend: It’s been amazing!

**Weeks later**

Friend: (Sobbing) I can’t handle it anymore.

**Weeks later**

Friend: I ended it.
Me: I’m really sorry babe (hugs and ice cream)

**Weeks later**

Friend: We’ve decided to give it another try.
Me: Despite X and/or Y? Do you really think that’s going to change?
Friend: We had a serious talk about it, I think it can change
Me: Great, I really hope it works out for you guys

**Weeks later**

Friend: (Sobbing) It’s not changing
Me (in my mind): Shock! I never saw that coming!
Me (out loud): I’m so sorry babe, probably better to just call it and find a better match
Friend: I know (sob)

**Weeks later**

Friend: We decided that if I make sure I do X, and he makes sure he does Y, we can sort out our differences.
Me: (raises eyebrows) Good luck!

**Weeks later**

Friend: (Sobs)
Me: (Facepalm)

Breakup Makeup

Anyway, I could probably continue this dialog a few more times around (depending on the ex-boyfriend we’re talking about) and it would be more or less accurate. To be fair, this hasn’t happened with every guy she’s dated, and she is not a perpetual monogamist either. But the last few serious relationships have slowly stuttered out of existence in this manner.

I’ve taken the understanding path: “I’m so sorry hon, I know how difficult the end of a relationship is and I’m here for you, whatever you need.”

I’ve taken the angry path: “I’m sorry friend, but are you fucking kidding me? You know the definition of insanity, right?”

I’ve taken the ‘I’m not your mom but I don’t approve’ path: “You’re an adult and can make your own decisions, but I’m disappointed.” [Stole that one directly from Mama Brown’s playbook, thanks ma!]

What shits me the most about the whole thing is that I know this woman better than almost anyone in the world. I know she is smart, and tough, and doesn’t take anyone’s bullshit. Unless she’s in love with him. Then it’s a bullshit free-for-all, and she rolls around in it until she can’t breathe, then stands up and shouts, “Hit me again, Johnny!”

And the only thing I can think to tell her is all the trite crap you can read in “It’s Called a Breakup Because It’s Broken” and “He’s Just Not That Into You” and all the other books that have been published to pry money out of the hands of heartbroken women everywhere. “If it didn’t work then, it won’t work now” and “People don’t ever really change that drastically” and “They’re always on their best behavior for the first six months, then you find out who they really are. That means this is who he really is, and it sounds like he sucks.”

Unfortunately, despite her sass and her mental toughness, her fatal flaw is blinding herself to the realities of the person she has fallen in love with. As someone who loves her, this is infuriating and difficult to cope with.

So when I heard (not directly from her, of course, at this point I think she probably knew I would hit the roof) that after months of finally being free from the last one, she was back with him, I hit her with both the angry and the Mom responses, then stormed over to my blog and laid this out.

Men

So here’s my final word to both my dear friend and anyone else who reads this blog looking for love advice: Loving someone does not mean you need to blind yourself to their faults. Loving someone means you put their needs first, and that they should put yours first. And if at any point that other person puts him/herself and his/her own bullshit before you, loving them is not a good enough excuse to stay. You deserve more, and it is out there, if you can stop holding onto the past and can look forward.

your ex

Oh, High School

According to various photos posted into my Facebook feed, this past weekend I missed my 10 year high school reunion. I knew this would be the case when the Facebook invite was sent around with a date of early October – only a few months after my most recent return home to America for my brother’s wedding. And as much as I’d love to spend $2,000+ just to see how far some people have fallen while simultaneously demonstrating that I am now smart, successful, and socially well-adjusted, I can think about 3,648 other things I’d like to do with $2k.

high school reunion

Whenever the topic of high school comes up, my Aussie and English friends here in Sydney excitedly quiz me about the experience, with the first question usually something along the lines of, “How much is like Mean Girls?!” My usual response is that it isn’t quite that dramatic, but now that I have insight into the UK/AU high school experience, I’ve found that it actually might be, in comparison.

High school in America can be cutthroat – academically (depending on the school), but so much more so socially. It’s an environment where the masses are desperate to put everyone into a group so they can easily classify each individual. There is the ever-desired “Popularity Quotient” that is then applied to each group, and this determines who you are allowed to sit with at lunch, who you try to sit next to in class, etc. And no matter how much you pretend you don’t care, when you’re 15 you really want your PQ to be high, because the higher the PQ, the hotter the boyfriend/girlfriend you can have, the easier it is to get asked to Prom, and the more you get invited to house parties instead of having to crash.

Just last week at a boozy work lunch, the topic of high school in the US came up, and I was posed this question: “What group were you in?” I hesitated before answering, at which point the asker rushed in with “You were definitely in the Mean Girls group, weren’t you?” I can see how he may have made that assumption based on who I am now (power bitch), but no. I actively avoided pushing my PQ in high school after particularly socially cruel treatment from the “Mean Girls” in middle school (yes, it starts early). When you get a smackdown that hard, you don’t really bother putting yourself in a position to let it happen again. So I mumbled out something about how I participated in theater in high school which probably aligned me most closely with the Drama Nerds (of which 100% are legit kicking ass at life – go you!), but the truth is I was a Drifter. Sometimes I hung out with my close friends from middle school, sometimes I hung out with the drama kids, but mostly I hung out with my closest friend, who was also a Drifter. And, when given the choice, we usually hung out with people who didn’t even go to our high school.

reunion

When I compare this to the high school experience of Australia and England, I find that the playing field there is generally much more level. No rush to badge and be badged, no panicked race to increase your PQ. You had your mates, but nobody was generally outright mean to anyone else, except the standard asshole bullies and troublemakers. None of the subtle slights and social maneuvering required of American high school. So what is it about the US that makes it so different? A capitalist government? The huge divide between the ‘haves’ and ‘have-nots’? Hollywood perpetuating 80s stereotypes? My guess is a mix of several factors. My American friends, what do you think? And if we went to high school together and you actually read this (thanks!), what group would you say I was? I didn’t get to go to the reunion to find out, so… 

Mini Rant: Facebook Weddings

I have this acquaintance on Facebook. She’s been planning a wedding for the better part of the last 18 months. How do I know? No, not the 500 photos she posted on her wedding night (hello, shouldn’t you be doing something with/to your husband instead of uploading your white dress selfies?) but because just about every day or so for the past 18 months there has been some post along the lines of: “OMG I’m über stressed dahlias won’t be in season in August” or “Blurghh how does one choose a PLAYLIST ehrmagerd the pressure is killing me!!!!” Not to mention multiple other inanities about seating charts, guest lists, venues, catering, etc., etc., like every single one of us who have added her as a friend ACTUALLY CARE. Here’s a tip: We DON’T!

If you’re reading this, this person is not you (they have been duly blocked from seeing this post). In fact, a stellar example of wedding planning Facebook etiquette can be found in my newly-minted sister-in-law. Not once did I see obnoxious stress posts about anything that had to do with the planning – the only wedding-related posts I saw were amazing photos of the pre-wedding venue scoping in Mexico, the engagement party, the bachelorette, etc., and all were upbeat, positive, excited posts instead of frustrated ranting. And to be fair, about 99% of my recently-married Facebook contacts were much the same. Likely because they’re probably busy actually living their lives instead of broadcasting their every thought and frustration to the Facebook universe the moment it crosses their minds. One or two panic posts is perfectly acceptable to get a little bit of community support, but hundreds? You’ve crossed a line.

Though I’ve never planned a wedding and maybe should be more understanding, here’s my rant to get the irritation off my chest (because I probably should have just blocked/defriended but instead subjected myself to the unending frustration of subscribing to these updates): We’re excited you found someone who will commit to you forever and ever til death do you part. That’s special, congrats. I’m glad that he’s adorable and you loooooove him and want to make little spawn with him. It’s great, really. And I’m excited that you’re planning a wedding – fun stuff! You get to have a giant party with all your BFFs, and you get to be the center of attention. Woo! And sure, it can be stressful to plan a big party, but just get on with it and stop whining about every little obnoxious detail ad nasuem. If it’s that stressful, elope! Or call your mom or sister or friend who is also planning or just planned a wedding and whine. These are things that are best kept to a weekly girls-night happy hour, not broadcast every other day to 400 of your closest middle/high school friends, college friends, former colleagues and extended family you’ve only ever met once and aren’t even invited to the wedding.

That is all, and thank you for listening. plans-sound-really-interesting-wedding-ecard-someecards

The Click

The evolution of my interpersonal relationships has been a varied one – from a painfully shy young childhood to an ever-increasing social adeptness that some might call “charm” (if you were trying to pay me a compliment) as I became an adult. The formulation of friendships in the early years was rooted nearly entirely in a quick emotional connection with a classmate or neighborhood kid, generally because I rarely said more than two words to stranger unless pressed until I reached the age of seven. As my shyness wore off and my social skills increased, friendships slowly evolved out of that sphere and were based on shallower foundations – popularity, prettiness, being in the same social group in high school. I never subscribed too much to the popularity pressures, but they changed the way my relationships formed nonetheless.

And so my relationships with my fellow species evolved to the point where “the click,” which had been the basis of my younger year friendships, became more and more rare as I grew older.

You’ve probably heard it said before, “Oh we met and just clicked.” And that’s how it goes: Two people meet each other, and after the initial friction of making room for a new personality in one’s life (masked by clever one-liners and a few too many beers), they find out if they “click.” I think the click means that two souls align on some fundamental level that cannot be explained by science or reason.

The click isn’t just a romantic one – best friends are formed by the click, family members are confused when they don’t click (it’s actually pretty rare that they ever do), colleagues are expedited into friends in a very short span of time thanks to the click. It’s different than forming a new friendship through what would considered “work,” coffee dates or post-work beers repeated often enough that an acquaintanceship tentatively and slowly steps toward friendship. It’s a few meetings like that, or sometimes even one, and then it happens. You click.

I have made some good friends out here in this past year in Australia, but clicks have been rare (as they have been more and more in my adult life). Many of the friendships I started were of the “work” variety – friend dates, setups from mutual friends, repeated exposure until we knew enough about each other to be considered friends. By no means am I discounting this type of friendship, it’s just a valuable as the click – but it is nice to be able to bypass that once in a while.

It’s a sudden recognition, a feeling of “oh I found you,” but you weren’t even really looking. Something that makes you realize you aren’t alone, because you have found another one of your kind. That thrilling feeling when you reveal the unpolished bits of yourself and are met with delight instead of repulsion. When silences aren’t awkward, when you know they’ll “get” your joke when someone else definitely would not. People who believe in reincarnation believe that it’s one soul finding another soul that had been important to them in a past life. I’m not sure about all that, but I definitely am sure of the click.
Friendship

Friends

 

Living Isn’t for Everyone

It’s hard to live in a part of the world that is so isolated from everything else. Where things are cooling down but everywhere else they are heating up. To huddle in a blanket and look at the photos of people you love in places you love basking in sunshine and each other’s company. Knowing that part of the departure was for the rebuilding, and knowing it was always going to be work, damnit, but starting to wonder how much stamina you have left in you to keeping leaving all the time.

Yes, the new people have all the makings of the next great, lifelong friendship, but feeling the vastness of the distance you’ve placed between yourself and the lifelong friendships created in years past still stings. Especially with the seasons changing, the cold air creeping into the corners of the poorly-insulated cinderblock, the silence of a beach town Sunday night in the off-season, the newness faded and monotonous, oppressive familiarity loosening questions already asked on other dark, lonely nights when the sky felt like it was falling.

It’s nights like this that create the restlessness, the need to stay in motion to avoid falling over the edge of homesickness and into a pool of despair. The end of a sad novel, a particularly chilly night, a group of friends enjoying their sun-soaked weekend in a city that still has pieces of your heart buried all over it, the shrapnel of your expatriated life scattered across the floor and haphazardly shoved into boxes in preparation for the next movement, the next departure, the next step in the ever-forward march.

I passed a sign in a shop on a blurry Wednesday night that read, “Living isn’t for everyone.” I can understand why simply existing is a much easier choice.

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