The Wizardess of Oz

An American's Adventures in Australia and Beyond

Category: Saying Farewell

Saying Farewell to My Homeland

Farewell Sydney

Goodbye Sydney, I’m leaving you.

My departure is bittersweet, like the time I’ve spent with you. Drastic highs and the lowest lows. My throat caught by both beauty and despair, in merciless succession.

I’ve lost a lot while I’ve been with you, Sydney. You brought me despair-filled train rides over tin and terra cotta rooftops in the weak winter morning light. Aching homesickness alone in my beach apartment, having everything I thought I ever wanted and drowning in a sea of tears. You took the bulk of my entitlement and tore it from my white-knuckled grasp. You looked at what I thought I’d become, and stoically pushed me in the opposite direction. I flailed and I fought, and you impassively looked on through my laughter and tears and did what you were always going to do, anyway.

You’ve given me a lot too. You’ve helped me redefine success, and gave me the courage to look at things differently than I always had. You brought me dear friends and the love of my life. You introduced me to the gentlest and toughest people I have ever known, and I have spent the better part of three years trying to reconcile that paradox. You gave me sunsets unlike any I’ve ever seen, a violent hug of color embracing the dark line of the horizon. Like all the colors in world had to cling close to the dusky shape of the west, as though they couldn’t survive without that dark relief to define them.

You taught me that no color is as bright as the one that stands closest to the darkness. And you took me away from everything that came easy and thrust me toward the black. You forced me to make a stand, to say that there surely must be something beyond my wildest dreams. You didn’t let me settle, Sydney, so I won’t.

Instead I will leave my pride and my plans on your golden sandy beaches, in your aquamarine seas, mixed in with the red dust at your heart. I will float my fear over the terraced houses and art-deco apartment blocks, and leave a huge piece of my heart in your wide and welcoming harbour. And while I might think you’re mourning the loss of me, you’re probably just racking your brain, trying to remember my name.

So goodbye Sydney, I’m leaving you.

What’s Happening?!?

Hello!

So we’re officially off on our travels (duh) and I haven’t had the time/discipline to sit down and write it all out. I have a few things here and there composed when I simply couldn’t keep it in, but I do want to take you on the journey with me as chronologically as possible. I promise to have our Australian adventures published before we leave Fiji, and from there posts will be about a week behind where we are.

If you don’t care to listen to my pontificating and just want to see pictures and stay up to date with where we are, follow the Facebook link on the right menu of this blog and subscribe to the page, or search and follow me on either of the below social networks:

Instagram: JennBrown777
Snapchat: JennBrown777

For now, happy travels, whatever your journey may be!

Xoxo

image

One Chapter Ends

Seven years ago next month, I sat nervously in a sunny conference room in an office in a business park in Irvine, California, wading my way through an interview. I had no idea what I was really interviewing for, the job description a jumbled mess of jargon I didn’t yet understand, but the kind smiles on the faces of the interviewers were encouraging, the office looked super cool, and it sounded like a real career job. Plus, their website showed dozens of offices all over the globe – this was my ticket to living abroad again! When they offered me the position, I took it without hesitation.

This is how I stumbled into the world of advertising, planning and buying media space for Fortune 500 companies. I was surrounded by smart, motivated people, and I was learning in a way that my college education never could have taught me. Anyone who has worked with me knows I’ll harp on and on about the amazing transferable skills a job in media can give you – client management, team management, sales skills, financial management skills, profit & loss management (see how jargony I’ve become, too?), creative thinking, etc. But what’s really painted this journey for me has been the people. From my eager, recently-graduated peers at that office in Irvine (who are all now incredibly successful director/owner/CEO-types all around the world), to the cast of characters in Seattle who were a huge part of making that city home, to the great friends I made here in Sydney that became my surrogate family, I think about the people that my career has allowed me to collide with and I know that they are the absolute best thing about the past 7 years of long hours in an office.

And on Friday, I went through a slightly familiar routine. I wrote my farewell emails, had my final team lunch, and almost cried in front of the entire agency when I said my farewell speech. I packed up the few things from my desk, lingering behind a little later than the rest of my team. And as I walked down the hallway toward the elevator one last time, I unwittingly had a movie-style montage of the people and places that my advertising career had taken me, and nearly was in tears again.

And now here I am, writing the end of this chapter. I don’t think that media is going to be in my future, though nothing is certain. But I think we’ve outgrown each other, and I’ve been hanging on longer than I should have like an overly-dependent girlfriend. But I couldn’t let the moment pass without a little tribute to that young girl in Irvine, and everyone who’s turned me into who I am today.

Now onto the next adventure!

The Wizardess

Endings

Thankful

A couple of weeks ago, I hosted my third and final Thanksgiving as an expatriate (at least an expatriate in Australia). Having the opportunity to bring this American tradition to foreign shores has been an annual highlight of each holiday season I’ve spent here in Australia. It’s been an opportunity to take a step back and reflect, and benchmark upon which I can measure how my life and social circle have grown and been enriched.

My first Thanksgiving was a harried and hurried affair, cooked on a hangover and with a few friends and a few people I had only just met, the day after an all-day music festival.

My second Thanksgiving stood out in stark contrast to the last – surrounded by new friends, a new love, and an overwhelming gratitude that my first year in Australia hadn’t been quite as bad as I’d let myself believe.

And this Thanksgiving was a fitting cap to the tradition. The turkey was a success (whew!), all the necessary accouterments were laid out, nearly everyone who had been at that first small table in my apartment in Bondi was able to make a reappearance, and many of the friends from last year’s feast had been able to attend as well.

TurkeyDay3TurkeyDay2

As we went around the table of 18 and said what we were thankful for, I couldn’t help but get a lump in my throat as I told everyone the story of the small table at my first Thanksgiving, and how more than anything I was thankful that I had been put in the path of so many amazing people who wanted to share this tradition with me. I was thankful for a partner who had been nothing but supportive about packing up my life, leaving him with my dog and taking off without him for 6+ months, and to my first friend in Australia, Annie, without whom that first year would have been drastically more difficult.

American Girls!

American Girls!

This Thanksgiving celebration was the first time it really hit me that I’m leaving. I’d been happily plunking my head into the sand, in denial that anything was really going to change. And now here was the end of a tradition in my new home that I’d started, ready to be passed on to another of my American friends who was staying. And as much as I’m looking forward with excitement to whatever is coming next, I’m also desperately sad to be leaving behind such wonderful people and such a beautiful place. And though my feelings about my time in Seattle and Sydney are very different, I can still echo the sentiment I felt  in one of my earliest blogs about leaving the city I’d called home for a while:

How Lucky I Am

Til next time, xoxo

The Wizardess

Not Quite Here, Not Quite Gone

I’ve been living in a place of limbo for the past several weeks. Not quite here, not quite gone.

Preparing to make a major move usually brings about a flurry of activity: things to pack, clothes to donate, boxes to ship. But I’ve been in super-slow motion, because my decision was made months ago, but each step to get to action was preceded by such an extensive amount of waiting. No, I can’t quit my job just yet, I need to save more money and the EM isn’t ready to leave his new job. No, I don’t really need to pack quite yet since I’m not leaving the house for 3 more months. Yes, I’ve turned in my notice, but my contract requires 12 more weeks of work, so there are still plenty of projects to be done. Even the act of checking out of the life I built here has been a slow one. At first, I panicked: There are so many things I still haven’t done! I must get to Palm Beach, I must spend a weekend in Jervis Bay! All those long weekends we put off can’t be put off any longer!

And then I ticked off all the weekends I wanted to spend. I started to clean out the closet and got bored after two bags of clothes were filled for sale/donation. And because procrastination is a skill I am particularly proficient in, I just sort of… drifted back to the routine of living, even through I’m leaving. With the exception of pulling out Southeast Asia on a Shoestring and meticulously planning what I will do in each country, I haven’t really done much else to prepare for this glorious sabbatical I have organized for myself.

I’m sure this is partially so I can avoid thinking about the hard parts: being separated from the EM for such a long time, saying goodbye to my pup for another exceptionally long stint and entrusting his care to someone else, trying to hold it together while I say goodbye to friends and co-workers. And I’m sure some of it is the nervousness of traveling alone for the first time, even though I will have sisterly support for the first few months. And I bounce between this reticence and a boundless excitement about the things I will see, do and discover. But to actually pack it up and make it real?

Terrifying, even now.

But I’m reaching a point where I’ve procrastinated as long as I can. Only five more weeks of work. Time to start getting my stuff organized, jettisoned, shipped. Time to start finalizing the itinerary. Time to mentally prepare to say goodbye to many people I’ve come to rely on heavily for support. Time to rush headlong into an adventure and expect (not just hope for) the best.

Strange

Goodbye, Hello

What better place to start trading off pines for palms than my homeland, Southern California?

I spent a lovely week surrounded by friends and family in Southern California. After an emotionally fraught and painful departure from Seattle, it was just what I needed to put some distance between a place so close to my heart and my new home in Sydney. It was familiar, but I had already said goodbye to it once, so this time around wouldn’t be as difficult.

My wonderful girlfriends flew in from all over the country to see me off, and a good number of my friends still based in SoCal also made an appearance. Not to mention I had the opportunity to spend some quality time with my family. I went to the beach, enjoyed the 80-degree weather, went to the Sawdust Festival, and made sure to get plenty of In N Out in my system (since I won’t have the opportunity for more in at least a year!). My sister and I enjoying my last meal in the US before my flight:

Yum!

I managed to keep the move from sinking in until two days before I left – the morning after my big going-away bash in Laguna. I woke that morning with my heart in my throat, realizing this was really, really it. the last two days went by very quickly, with all the last-minute preparation, paperwork, etc.

Next thing I knew, I was on a plane 36,000 miles over the Pacific Ocean, Sydney-bound. I was lucky to be in Premium Economy on Qantas (I was able to combine what was supposed to be two one-way tickets into one – a long story that shouldn’t be told without a stiff drink), so I got the “royal treatment,” more or less and actually managed to sleep without the aid of narcotics (!) for at least 7 of the 14 hours I was in the air.

As the sun rose over the International Date Line, I couldn’t help but think how my last view of Seattle as I departed looked similar to my first sunrise in the Southern Hemisphere.

Last sunset as I flew out of Seattle:

Image

First sunrise about 2,000 miles out of Australia:

Image

And the poet in me thought of it as fitting, a beautiful goodbye that matched an equally beautiful hello.

Work Family Farewell

Wonderful going-away with the co-workers today at Cactus South Lake Union. Margaritas, tequila, toasts and lots of laughs to be had by all, as evidenced here:

And here is my wonderful work family:

And here they are being silly:

Not everybody can be so lucky to spend their days with people like these.

Saying Goodbye to Seattle

Beyond my super sappy Love Letter/Ode to a City a couple of weeks ago, I had a proper goodbye party this past weekend, replete with champagne, dancing, and the pleasure of good company with great friends.

I mean, how could anyone not feel a little bit of a twinge saying goodbye to people who make you so happy you look a little retarded?

Or who make you look like you belong in a super badass (and possibly slightly demonic) girl gang?

I’ll admit, I’m not a cryer, but the combo of booze and my darling friend Megan who likes to tear up everytime she thinks about me leaving had me crying on a street corner at 2 a.m. in the middle of Fremont like a pimp-slapped streetwalker. Smudged mascara aside, it was a FABULOUS night. Now I only have one last hurdle to clear – the goodbye with the coworkers on Friday. Sure to be a tear/snot/booze fest as well. Gulp.

The Sadness of Selling Your Life

I really “nested” when I moved to Seattle. Maybe I hadn’t quite thought my future life plans through 100% or maybe the fact that my company paid me a big chunk of cash to make the move swayed me, but I really made my house a “home” for the first time. I invested (yes, that implies $$$$) in furniture, decor, an organic home garden (oh yeah), and really loved my house – so much so that at one point I attempted to buy it off my landlord.

The dream of living abroad hadn’t disappeared, but I suppose the foresight of what a hassle owning a home, nice furniture, etc. would mean for a major international move had diminished somewhat. It was so far in the future it didn’t matter. Fast forward to the “future,” and it completely blows.

Most of my “nice” or one-of-a-kind things I’ve had a really hard time letting go of, and add to that the fact that I have to discount to mere hundreds of dollars that which ultimately cost me thousands, I’m kind of hating my 3-year-ago self. Which means, kids, that I’ve learned a really important life lesson, that I’d really like to impart to you: Your shit is not important, please don’t spend too much on a freaking coffee table, and get over having “stuff” and focus on having experiences.

I won’t pretend that I’m not one of those ridiculously lucky people who has gotten to have her cake and eat it too – I’ve traveled just as much as I’ve purchased an expensive couch. And I still believe 100% in a comfortable and stylish personal space. But if Pinterest as taught me anything, it’s that you can most likely DIY the crap out of some Craiglist BS and spend the money you saved on a plane ticket to Manila, or Abu Dhabi, or somewhere equally as awesome.

I will say the one area of packing that brought me the most joy was my basement. Yep. Basement. After digging through mountains of crap that all went to the trash bin, I discovered that I had shoved years of photographs, old middle- and high-school notes, short stories I’d written, etc. into told tupperware boxes in my basement, and promptly forgot about them while I fretted over window coverings. Pulling those out, seeing the pictures, reading the notes and stories was wonderful. Many of them I sent back to the original writer of the note, because I thought it would do them just as much good to see how far we’d come as it had done for me. It was a nice opportunity to take a step back from my crazy trans-continental moving frenzy to appreciate the talent I had as a 12-year-old English student, see pictures of myself and other amazing, accomplished women I grew up with in our private school jumpers and braces, and allow myself to be humbled at how much growth I’ve packed into a relatively short amount of time. Not that I’m anywhere close to done, but… I’m glad I started with my basement, because it helped solidify the realization that these are the things that matter, not my mattress.

Which is why I’m not going to give more than one fuck about where 99% of my “stuff” comes from once I move. Except for my sheets. That shit’s portable, and I’ve evolved into a 1,000 thread count minimum. If I’m spending 35% of my life in bed, it better be a damn comfy ride.


Farewell, I’m Off to Oz

Farewell Seattle, I’m off to Oz. I’m following the yellow brick road of my dreams to see the wizard and start a new adventure.

You’ve been kind to me, Seattle. Because of you I truly know how delicious Spring can smell. I know what it feels like to see beauty stretch out in every direction and make you catch your breath in your throat, every day. I know that overcast skies make for brighter colors, and how to love the smell of wet concrete. I know that evergreen trees feel like the Earth’s way of giving you a hug. I know what clean air feels like in my lungs. I know the riotous beauty of wildflowers in summer. I know what a perfect summer day feels like. I know that a city skyline can be so beautiful it makes you want to cry.

You taught me a lot about myself, Seattle. How to make mistakes.  How to remember what’s important. How to do it all completely on my own. How to cast off the safety net and live without fear. How to reach for my goals, but appreciate what I have in the moment. A lot has happened while I’ve been with you, Seattle. I fell out of love. I fell in love. I learned that love isn’t always enough. I learned that people will take their insecurities out on me. I learned how to be successful. I learned the dozens of small ways I can fail, but I also learned how to forgive myself for those failures. I learned how to not sweat the small stuff that doesn’t matter, and to cling with both hands to the small stuff that really matters.  I broke a couple of hearts, including my own. I learned that sometimes letting go is braver than holding on, and even if letting go hurts, it hurts less than not doing so. I grew up with you all around me, and you’ll always be a very special place to me.

I’ve left lots of pieces of my heart scattered all around you, Seattle. On a ferry boat on Puget Sound. On top of a mountain on Orcas Island. At a Campground at the foot of Mount Rainier. Floating on Lake Washington. In a bungalow in Queen Anne. On the salt-covered floor of Pike’s Place Market. On a volleyball court in Alki Beach. At a park near my home. With a boy. With the incredible women I was lucky enough to become friends with.  With coworkers who became family.

But I have a lot more left to do, dear Seattle. I have things yet to learn that you can’t teach me. I have mistakes to make, patience to earn, friends to love, and arrogance to temper. And I can’t do this with you, though I love you for everything you’ve given me. I’m going further than I ever thought possible, because you taught me that I can. You taught me that it’s nothing to fear, rather, it’s something to revel in. That no matter what, I will never regret the step I am going to take.

So farewell Seattle, I’m off to Oz.

How Lucky I Am

 

 
JB

© 2017 The Wizardess of Oz

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑