a place to call home

15 01 2012

ever since i arrived back in Sydney, friends have asked me variations of “so, how are you finding Sydney?”, the question loaded with the understanding that I left Sydney nearly 12 years ago, never intending to return without a very good reason.

i’ve explained to some that i’m viewing my unexpected return to Sydney as a transitionary step, wherein all the things that I hate about life in Sydney will serve to motivate me to keep this step a short one, say, two to three years, until I finally make it to the one place in the world I actually want to live.

it’s worth noting here that some people can’t fathom why I have no desire to go do the ‘live and work overseas for a few years’ thing, as Jon is planning to do.  well, likewise, i can’t fathom why some people would prefer to live in Sydney.  fine, whatever.  most of the time i just roll my eyes or smile amiably and STFU, because frankly the differences are relatively minor, compared to so many other places in the world.

unexpectedly, this relocation to Sydney – provoked by Jon’s job offer – has brought me a bigger step closer to not just the NSW Northern Rivers, but the ability to live anywhere whilst still doing my work, than I had first anticipated.  by coming to an arrangement to continue providing tech-support to two Melbourne clients simply as a means to ensure continuity of a base-level income until I establish some new clients (presumed to be in Sydney), in one step I’ve laid a big part of the groundwork toward having location-independence already.  previously I’d always assumed that location-independent income would have to come from something else (eg. iApp development).

two leads/introductions facilitated by a close friend for further Sydney-based work/clients have fizzled out to nothing, both incapable even of saying ‘sorry, nothing we can do to help at this time’ even via the impersonality of email.  i just don’t understand that.

a third lead morphed into a far more tangible opportunity to work for another IT support organisation, if i were willing to put aside my self-employed independence and, sooner or later, hand over my clientele to it.  having just made the realisation that I’d partially achieved location-independent income status, I wasn’t about to self-sabotage that any time soon.  nor would this job afford me the time or headspace to continue this process.

so I’m left hoeing my own path.

Jon’s new job is going as well as hoped, which is a relief.  i’m glad i made the move with him up here, to continue our path-of-uncertain-length together.  i like the place we’re living in, even though it’s not a direct 1-to-1 conversion of ‘Socio-Economic Location Value’ from where we lived in Melbourne.  for that privilege of living in, say, Newtown, we’d have to pay an extra $150/week rent, at least.  or live under a near-perpetual flight path.  fuck that shit.

i *hate* myself for the way I’ve put on so much weight in the past comfortable year, having somehow allowed myself to not choose a new gym when we moved in together in a new area too far from my old gym.  naturally i don’t expect or get any positive encouragement from the Sydney Establishment there.  but that is about to change, i guarantee it.  (rest assured though, some Sydney people will misinterpret this as some desire on my part to be more Sydney-like.)

and, despite not having any previous desire for pets, we now have two gorgeous ginger kittens adding a surprising amount of joy and entertainment to our home.

with all this so far, i’ve apparently lost my personal integrity (for moving back to Sydney, i assume), had my masculinity questioned (by uber-house-proud gay men living in Sydney, no less), my financial status looked down upon (“oh, you’re living in Dulwich Hill, the OUTER inner west, that’s not really the inner west, you know!”), and a bunch of other gratingly superficial judgements presented as substitute for conversation, all from people who, frankly, I know can be better than that.  of course the flip-side is that i’m probably just being teased a bit and need to grow a thicker skin – a skin thickness I never seemed to need in Melbourne.

so it would seem my viewing life back in Sydney as an uncomfortably motivational transitionary step is working just fine!



All good things…

17 08 2011

my next blog post was originally going to be a “hey, J & I just celebrated 1 year together!”, due about a month ago.  but life got in the way of blogging it.

now, I’m faced with the decision of whether to follow him to Sydney, or not.  WTF!??

you see, J, in his disenchantment with his now-former employer, started applying for jobs, particularly targeting places he actually wanted to work (as distinct from simply applying to places who just happened to be advertising on Seek or whatever).  in the interim, he accepted a 3 month contract with an agency, which he’s a few weeks into.

one of those leads was with a major globally-recognised web-based software company, BASED IN SYDNEY.  after a lengthy courtship, including a trip to Sydney at his own expense, he’s been offered the position, including significant assistance & reimbursement of relocation costs.  and now after several days of deliberating & number-crunching, he’s decided to accept it.  ignoring the bigger picture it’s almost a no-brainer, it’s a great opportunity that should directly facilitate his desire to live/work overseas in the web world a year or two hence.

but there IS a bigger picture.  those who know me know my thoughts on Sydney, and why I left there 11 years ago bound for Melbourne, and would understand my reluctance, or at least extreme ambivalence, to return, and in the process jeopardising my Melbourne-based client income.  (and for those who don’t know, no, it wasn’t for any of the classic reasons one usually flees a city (love/hate, STDs, parking fines), it was just, to cut a long story short, being totally over Sydney Life & needing a big change).

and there’s J’s youngest brother who lives with us, who’ll need to relocate – somewhere.

J starts at the new job in Sydney in mid-September, less than a month away.

suffice to say i’m a little shitty at J’s lack of consequential thinking.  although I was aware he’d applied, there was no “what if?” discussion if he were to be offered a job, and naturally need to start there within a month.  partly that’s because of his lack of self-confidence at landing a job with a high-flying company.  but partly it’s the reality of our ‘partnership’.

as you might remember, after I returned from Byron in April last year, I started hatching a plan; a plan that perhaps would’ve seen me living up there by now, perhaps continuing to service my clients remotely (with the assistance of a local pair of hands for on-site work), or perhaps doing something altogether different.

you might also remember that, shortly after I announced that intention, J “changed his mind”, and we rekindled what had begun & quickly ended 6 months earlier.  acknowledging that lightning doesn’t usually strike twice, there was still more than enough mutual attraction, interest & respect to “enjoy the ride together for however long it lasts”; which put my half-made plan to migrate north on hold.

well, now i need to balance “however long it lasts” with the financial feasibility AND desirability of moving back to Sydney.  don’t get me wrong, the last year with J has been totally joyful.  but, a man’s gotta pay the bills, too!

as far as my willingness to leave Melbourne, nothing has changed.  many of the friends I made in the first 5 years have left (or died), and 5 years of social stagnation from depression did nothing to rectify that situation.  whilst there’s still a few people here I’d really miss, there’s even more back in Sydney who are already rallying for my return!

it’s more than geographically closer to my intended destination, it’s a rut-busting move of similar proportions to the one that got me down here in the first place, and if there’s anyone who needs a comfortable, financially subsistent 11 year rut busted, it’s me!  1 to 2 years in Sydney (before J finally fulfils his overseas ambition, and I mine) could be just what I need to unsettle, stress and stretch me in hopefully positive ways, getting rid of some of the old, to make way for some of the new.

or am I just being a pathetic lapdog?


there’s no place like…?

19 01 2010

it’s hard to find words to summarise the maelstrom of thoughts that have reverberated around my head this past few weeks since xmas.

after crying for a couple of days ‘post J’, G&G flew me up to Sydney, partly to help them fix The Shed’s server, but partly i suspect to rescue me from moping around in Melbourne over the NYE long weekend.  love those guys so much.

it’s was a complete and very welcome distraction. it’s been a LONG time since a trip to Sydney has left me wanting more, instead of being toey & anxious to return home from the rat-race.  for a while i wasn’t sure what that meant.  i even sent J a positive forward-looking email on NYE, and got a positive, if typically guarded, minimal reply the next day.  but then on returning to Sydney came the (small) crash, Mondayitis to say the least, & i realised Sydney had been not much more than a distraction.  or had it?

i’ve been in Melbourne almost 10 years now.  i’d probably say it regardless, cuz that’s what most of us seem to do when the passing of year(s) is highlighted, but not only do i ask myself “where did it all go?”, i also can’t help but think 5 years of dysthymia had something to do with that sensation.  so much lost/wasted time it almost makes me cry.  whilst i have little or no regrets about what i’ve done in melbourne, i feel like i have so little to show for it.

in bringing mum & dad up-to-date on the J situation (something they were very sad to hear, i think they were as hopeful that this would be The One as I was.  and i don’t think i’ve EVER used that expression before), they moved the conversation into broader issues of my happiness.  wow, if that isn’t the perfect time to bring them in on the depression history, as i’d planned to do on that trip, what would be?  they took it remarkably well, i think it was a penny-drop moment for them.  and i think they understood why i hadn’t told them about it sooner, that they’d only worry about something extra which they had so little ability to help me with, at least in a tangible way from 750km away.  i also learned my own brother has/had been on ADs because of a major trauma in his wife’s family a few years back.

back to the grind in Melbourne for 2 weeks, back to a client’s fucked-up & serially postponed server upgrade, thank you Dell, a story i’ll save for a separate post.

had dinner with J for the first time since he brought my little world – existing largely in my head – to an end.  despite nearly piking several times through the day, i persevered; actually it was OK.  suffice to say, he has issues, and he knows it.  i hope he seeks some professional help with that, and also reaches down and pulls out the big ones to draw the line with the festering domestic situation, which will come to a head in a month from now when he & ex go to Malaysia to bring his little brother over here to start uni, expecting a roof over his head for X months ’till he gets on his feet.  i don’t look at J beyond friendship now, a special friend for sure, but his circumstances will probably out-live this window of opportunity, and beyond which i sure can’t see with my own uncertainties.  that sucks.  really really sucks.

anyway, back to Sydney for my postponed xmas trip – another 4 days seeing family & friends, loving every minute of it.  but this time the emotional turmoil dial was turned up to 11.  borrowed my brother’s spare Jeep to get around – so butch!  with no iPod connector i found myself rocking away nostalgically to the classic 70s/80s/90s rock on Vega FM on the car radio.  so many familiar places and people and smells and memories and feelings and music, but in a place i’d still rather not live  (+ the higher cost of living up there), except for the superior weather.  sunday morning i had coffee on Bondi Beach with Raz Chorev (www.riding4acause.org), which was great, except for the population density.  there’s no fucking way i could live in that dense environment!  the inner west is my limit :).  but at the same time being in that Sydney buzz made me feel more alive. TORN!

but the biggest surprise was getting back in contact with ‘T’.  i met T via WhosHere iPhone app (as i did J, both over a year ago), and he came up to spend a few days in Byron Bay with me a year ago.  despite us strangely adopting the ‘boo’ term of endearment, that was a mostly G-rated time.  unfortunately we only spoke on the phone once or twice last year, but apparently i left some lingering impression on him.  T is a 25yo quintessentially gen-Y anarchistic-socialist, nurse, skater, good-looking and brutally honest & forthright – right up my alley is an understatement.  he met me at G&G’s and the warm, fond reunion quickly turned hot n steamy!  whoa, wtf?!?  i resisted, for a while – went to the pub to talk & meet G&G, and then a walk, talked & caught up on he & his bf, me & my issues.  says he’s been missing me all last year (and I him!), but we both accept the reality that while we live in different states nothing more than friendship can happen & neither of us wants to move.  but for that one night, we were in the same place at the same time, and the chemistry was utterly intoxicating. with the situation with his bf explained, i couldn’t resist, and a drought was ended :)

but could i *really* cope with such a handful as T, and with more than half a generation between us?  for a long time now i’ve felt like i was born into the wrong generation.  i vacillate between the Baby Boomer-ness of my heavily parentally influenced upbringing, and the tell-it-like-it-is reject-all-convention digital natives of Gen-Y, existing increasingly unhappily amongst my Gen-X “peers”, but as they and I age, feeling like i fit in less and less, a chasm of world-view, concerns and day-to-day interests growing between us.  it is driving me insane, restless and adrift.

the question has to be asked:  now that so many of my closest Melbourne friends have moved overseas, interstate, died, or just disappeared after years of dysthymic neglect, what is left here for me?  right this moment the thought of ripping up my now shallow roots all over again and moving elsewhere, or back to Sydney, makes me sick in my stomach.  but now that the fog of dysthymia has lifted, my feelings of loneliness and unattachment to Melbourne are a sharp splinter in my mind.  do i want to continue making a renewed effort to deepen my Melbourne roots?

oh yeah, and another old WhosHere / MSN Messenger contact (in Melbourne) has reappeared out of nowhere on MSN, seemingly happy to see me (and I him!). ‘A’, another mid-20s, employed, laid-back, once-was/occasionally dope-smoking cutey wants to meet.  at this preliminary stage i’m confident that so long as *I* don’t have possession, all is well, and he says he doesn’t smoke it much anymore, only on holidays.  we seem to get along like a house on fire online, and we’re both curious to see of that translates IRL, which will probably happen next week.

but underwriting all this dilemma is the need to maintain a healthy income to pay off my small mountain of debt.  i can’t just run away somewhere new and start a new life if it involves uncertainty or lowering of income.  i feel trapped – in one of the most livable cities on the planet – not just in place, but in career, one i don’t have a lot of passion for any more, but as yet with no freakin idea what to do instead.