Here’s the thing about living in a new country on a one year visa; everything feels pretty impermanent, because it is. It’s kind of a slightly lengthier version of the classic question; if you had one day left to live, what would you do? Thankfully I have more than one day left to live; I have a year (OK more than a year but you understand my clunky extension of the saying). My point being, you find yourself living as if you will never get the opportunity to live this way again. Which is kind of true no matter where your are in your life. It just feels more poignant once you’ve relocated to another country.
So what does impermanent living look like? Well, for me it’s letting go of some of the hang ups I was infamous for (in my own head, where it’s most important) back in London, and being open to more of the things I enjoy. And this means embracing numerous lifestyles I was nervous to embrace before now.
The Foodie Life
I’ve become one of those people who takes pictures of the food I eat. Ugh, I know. But it has to be both aesthetically pleasing and tasty, otherwise I won’t post it on the Gram. This officially makes me one of the people I used to make fun of, and I will proudly admit that I’ve done a 180 on this because I was living a sheltered life before, where I went out to eat about once in a blue moon. Here in Melbourne, eating out is like a daily exercise in experiencing joy by way of the high quality craftsmanship of the restaurant industry. I already have so many recommendations of places with the best Gram-friendly food; like Two Birds One Stone, Milk the Cow, Two Little Pigs Charcuterie and Grind, Cantina, to name but a few. Also I said Gram and I feel dirty because of it, but now I can’t stop. Gram.
The Hipster Life
When I was in London I could still get away with pretending I wasn’t a hipster. Sure, I didn’t grow a curly moustache (because how?), attach braces to my jeans and wear them unironically, or decide that I was a vegan during the weekdays, but I was definitely dipping my toe into some hipster practices. I LOVE coffee, I love indie movies and art that I don’t understand, and yes on occasion, I have been known to roll up the bottom of my jeans, so sue me. But I leaned in HARD when I got to Melbourne and eventually moved to Brunswick, where I found my people. I was met with grubby shop fronts and repurposed factories that reveal creatively decorated restaurants with edgy and flavoursome food, art galleries with a secret bar at the back, and independent book shops everywhere. There is also a jeans shop here which will fit the jeans to your exact measurements for $50. I am yet to go there and join what I know will be a dreaded queue (yes I am British and yes we invented queues and yes I hate them with a fiery passion) in order to enjoy the spoils of this novelty. But I mean, when in Rome, you know…Rome stuff? I don’t know the correct ending to that saying, sorry.
The Serial Dater Life
Like I’ve said in a previous post, one of the best ways to get to know a place is via the people that reside there. And what better way to get to know people than in the dating scene? Well, it turns out there are much better ways to get to know people than the dating scene in Melbourne, or more specifically, better than the online dating scene. I’ve written about being single in London extensively in the past, and there are a few commonalities I have discovered here in Melbourne that quite frankly, I won’t bore you with. Meeting people in person is a lot more possible and frequent here though, which continues to be a pleasant surprise.
What I will say about the online dating Melbourne life is this: people are really concerned with finding out immediately what you’re looking for despite it being written on your profile. Also, an inordinate amount of people like putting up pictures of the loving relationships they’re already in with their pets.
I have however, leaned into the dating scene in a very different way than I am used to, which is with the aim of looking for friends first before anything else. This approach of staying open minded and not immediately committing to something I’m not sure about, means I have interacted with a lot more people, had better conversations, and gotten a better feel for the type of people I’d like to have around me.
And being non-committal also means slightly less emotional investment immediately with people you don’t know. This came in particularly handy with an ex sportsman I had been conversing with and later met over a series of weeks, who turned out to have a secret family with a newborn. Eek right? He also lied about his name, job, and background, and although I would have liked to put him on blast here on my blog for the sheer audacity of his actions, I ultimately decided not to because I wasn’t actually emotionally invested in him (thank God) and it’s not my place to reveal his deceit to the rest of his Facebook friends. However the truth will out, as it always does, just FYI.
My point? There are some positives and some negatives to staying ‘open’. And for some gosh darn reason, even though that experience has made me more cautious, it hasn’t deterred me completely. #growth.
OK, so my living as if it were my last year isn’t as exciting as say, bungee jumping (never ever doing that, nope, not ever), paragliding, or deep sea diving (I could probably do that, maybe one day, not soon), but that’s ok because it’s MY year. There is something I used to say when I was practising as a therapist, which I still believe but no longer associate with the cynical ideas I was garnering back then:
“People do not change, they just become better or worse at being themselves.” ©Maame Blue (not a real copyright).
With impermanence comes uncertainty, and are we not our truest selves when faced with the complete unknown? So somehow, I am at this moment in time, my most authentic self, thanks to having absolutely no idea what’s going to happen next. It feels ironic but I can’t explain why because I have never really known how to define the word irony. So here’s a dictionary definition to better make my point.
Irony: A state of affairs or an event that seems deliberately contrary to what one expects and is often wryly amusing as a result.