I know I’m not really ‘traveling’ yet, but I will say the past 2.5 weeks have been some of the best I’ve had in quite some time. I figure updating this will be a bit hard for the next month, as Melissa and I will be travelling from Cairns down the east Coast to Sydney for 3-4 weeks. I will charge the old GoPro and make sure my camera is good to go, but I find I sometimes forget to take all the photos and record everything I want because I’m too busy living it. That feels good. I’ve tried to be better about not playing with my phone when I’m walking around or meeting people, so I can really be in each moment. Obviously, its hard, but anyway – things just feel good these days. It’s easy to say life is fun when you’re going out for drinks, dinner, and meeting people – of course it is. Thing is, even the work is good. I feel like I’ve come back to Australia with a different mindset and different situation. I have the benefit of knowing a few (not many, but good) people – Rimma, who I became friends with in Ottawa, Tyler, a friend from Queens, James, a contact through a social group, and some other people still kicking in the city. I also have the advantage of knowing the city somewhat. I know where train stations are, I know where to look for certain items, I still recall some of my favourite old haunts. Melbourne has changed, but she is also still the same.
Madyson (my Europe travel friend) asked me over coffee in August how I would feel coming back here a second time. I said it would bring a mixture of emotions. I figured it would be bittersweet, that I would remember things I did the last time I was here, the short romances, the friends, the places I went. I don’t talk to any of those people anymore, and no one is really left, so thinking back on that makes me sometimes a bit wistful. Still, the overwhelming sense is one of coming home, weird as that may be. All the months of planning and ruminating over the idea of this move seem to have fallen like puzzle pieces into their rightful places. When I arrived, it did feel a bit weird, as though I couldn’t believe I was suddenly back where my love of travel began. After a few days, it simply felt normal. I pass stores and restaurants I’ve been to and sparks set off in my mind. I visit the Botanical Gardens and I feel happy. I walk Southbank at night and I can’t help but be filled with whimsy.
As I said, even the concept of work feels better. I’m mostly supply teaching for my old school, CPS, and I hope I continue to get work with them in Term 4. I feel more confident going in to work every day, even when I don’t know the school, because I have more teaching experience under my belt, and I have more of a sense of myself now as an educator. Even if my niche is high school, I still do enjoy primary, and it’s fascinating to be witness to so many different stages of learning. In an ideal world, we all want our own classroom and our favourite subjects, but I feel supply teaching offers a really good chance to learn about content, curriculum, and child development that would normally be out of the scope of what you’re used to. Plus, everyone loves it when a child draws you a picture and ends your day with a hug.
The first week I got here, it seemed like everyone I met asked me “how long I’d be here”. I never got that question the first time around. In 2013 when I finished my job at CPS, I fought back tears on stage when we said goodbye to our students, and I had desperately wanted to stay. I’ve heard that since then, sponsorships have become much more likely if teachers are willing to stay 4 years. Contemplating that at 24 would have been so much easier, with all of my 20s ahead of me and less pressure to settle down and make more of a permanent, sedentary lifestyle. Now, at 27, I feel like 4 years is a lot to consider. Could I go back home at 31, still single, lose my foothold in my old Board, and start over? Of course, people do it, and 31 isn’t “old”. The chances of being offered a sponsorship aren’t high anyway, but it’s something I consider. I already feel like perhaps I want to stay longer than the 4 months I originally set out, and I’m not surprised. Melbourne is such a livable city – just check the recent news. For me, the decision to stay would depend on what I consider important things: making good friendships and connections, meeting a partner, and finding a job I love. I wouldn’t take a job I didn’t enjoy just for the sake of staying. To me, it’s the people in your life that make a home. Canada is a long ways away, and I’m sure in time I will miss my close friends and family. Staying means developing connections and creating a life that you don’t feel you need to take a holiday from, which wasn’t the situation back home. Still, home is home. For now, my plan is to take every day as it comes, and see what these next months have in store.
In other less serious news, my second week went pretty well. I can’t even believe it’s been that short! Rimma kindly let me stay until Sunday while she was away for work in Sydney, but I had to find a place until the holiday, so I settled into an airbnb in Toorak. Its more than I’d like to pay per week, but this is Melbourne, and this suburb is a rich one. Think 1-2MIL dollar homes. The location is decent enough, and I can take one tram right to CPS, so for work it’s nice. There is a grocery store right around the corner and I’m a 12 minute walk to two different train stations. Melissa arrives on Thursday, so the plan is to let her sleep all day Thursday at my rental while I’m at work, then force the girl out for drinks Thursday to celebrate her arrival and the start of our trip. Friday we will drop our extra luggage off with Rimma who has kindly allowed us to keep some bags in her spare room, then fly out to Cairns on the Saturday. I’m already booked into work tomorrow and hope to work 4 days as our month long trip cost a pretty penny indeed!
The last week has passed quickly and was spent quite well. Monday I grabbed dinner with a few Canadians who are also teaching. Amazing 12$ parmas and great stories to come this week as some of them were camping for 9 days with a bunch of teenagers! Tuesday was a chill sesh in the Botanical Gardens with Tyler – think wine, paper cups, and amazing salad. Wednesday I went to go see live celtic music a british girl i met, and James, a friend from my first time in Melbourne. Thursday and Friday were nights in, but I was ok with that – we had miserable weather Friday so I celebrated with bubbles, postcards, Gilmore Girls and some relaxation. Saturday was one of those days where I couldn’t stop smiling: James invited me to try Dragon Boating at docklands which proved a great way to start the morning. I went to lawn bowls in Flemington to meet my old coworkers who is simply adorable – it was his first birthday and both Kate and her son Felix were such a welcome sight. I finished the night with the first decent date I’ve had in ages.
I know we tend to see the world through rose-coloured glasses when we travel, but I don’t care. I’m not doing anything crazy right now. I’m going for walks. Supply teaching. Meeting people for drinks. Exploring the city. It all feels so normal, and it all feels so right. I can only hope things keep getting better, Melissa arrives safely, and the good times keep rolling. So far so good.
Love from Melbourne,