61 Months

61 months is how long it’s been since I moved down from Sydney, and now I’m moving back up. It’s been a long and interesting 5 years, and I’m going to do a quick summary here. Mainly because I can.

Before

Moving down from Sydney was a very reluctant thing for me. I’d got things fairly set in Sydney, with a good bunch of friends, and even if I was going to be moving schools regardless, I’d still be close to those people I stuck with since year 7. Moving is never easy for the very reasons it is exciting; in essence, your whole life is renewed with new opportunity. I managed to get into a good school in Melbourne, and if I didn’t know anyone there or indeed practically anything about the city before, it wasn’t so much of an issue. When you’re a 15 year old, you don’t have too much control over your life, and I like to think I do my best to make the best of a situation.

Year 11

Year 11 was always going to be hard, no matter how you approached it. It was harder yet for the fact of moving states and schools, and I started the first day rather lonely. I think the first week my bemusement at blazers, lockers and ties overrode any sense of lacking people to be around. Stepping from a suburban school into one in the city, catching a tram in to school, it was all a huge change, and I formed some quick friendships with the other people who joined with me – some 30 or so people, an unusually large group. There were friendships of convenience and coincidence. Those never last, and it was probably somewhere in the second term that I wandered into the Anime club, a true novelty for me.

Everyone finds their niche eventually; I think I found mine somewhere around there, and got involved simply because of the fact that there wasn’t much else that drew my interest. I’d previously played basketball or handball all recess and lunch, but here they were serious, and I was an outsider. It’s easier for an outsider to drop into a group of outliers than it is to get into a group that is concretely established, and so it was that the anime club drew me in. I think it was out of this that the majority of my current friendships have developed, however awkwardly, and inevitably I am thankful.

Getting used to a different school system was hard – especially at first when your assumed knowledge must be adapted. Wouldn’t wish it on anyone. The school did make things as easy as possible though, which is a good thing. Didn’t have much of a social life then, but it’s part of the process I guess, and certainly the great white elephant of the final two years of school didn’t help it along much. Somewhere in there though, I did start to emerge and become more social…

Oh and by way of world events, September 11 redefined everything in the public. Coming as it did 3 days after my 16th birthday, I found it very interesting to observe how we developed from kids talking about the latest game console and whether Ford really did kick Holden’s ass or not to having fully formed views on world politics. I think it’s a change which is by and large positive, but kids these days do grow up and become aware so much faster than we ever did. Someday perhaps we will cherish that innocence lost.

Year 12

This is where I really struck my groove – I’d settled, I knew the place, I had the people, and you might say that things were good.

Then I discovered girls. And coffee.
Yes, kinda late you might say. 16 however is a good enough time. I mean, it’s not like I didn’t know about the fairer sex before that, but it’s not exactly at the top of your mind at a boys school, and conversing requires first that you be a bit social. I took it entirely in my stride, however, letting the lead provided by books and movies guide me through the maze that it is, and suddenly I’d realised I’d left the shy side of me behind. Don’t get me wrong – I still shy up at the best of times – but somehow I found my ability to talk develop beyond the daily inanities. I had an Opinion, and I had a Voice, and I let it flow, and somehow it was tied up in my ability to successfully engage with the opposite sex. All this played out on the tapestry of year 12.

Coffee was discovered somewhere in the mix, and so will always have this innate association that I need to be drinking it with women.

I think this year – 2002 – was the biggest I’ve had yet. I changed so much between point A at the start of the year and point B at the end, and I cleared the milestones without too many worries altogether. I know there were days which I just wanted to lie down and have it be over, but through the marvel of nostalgia and the innate editing that we all seem to carry, it was a year that I’d live over and over again, and change very little. If there was ever a milestone, a marker for turning points, it was this.

1st Year Uni

Broadly speaking, the rate of change slowed in uni, and 1st through to 3rd year really didn’t contain all that much – but I’m still marking them out seperately for all the events.

2003 started off on an exceptional note, and a cynic might say it was all downhill from there – but of all things, when it comes to looking at these things anyway, I’m no cynic. It really did step up in Uni. I finally found an environment in which I could work at my own pace. I got the course I more or less wanted – I’d have loved to go to Melbourne Uni, but the advantage afforded by the scholarship was clear and so it was to Monash I went. A fork in the road chosen one way that perhaps would have given me more had I chosen the other, but live without regrets and the world is your oyster, really.

In summary, I loved first year uni. We went to India at the end of the year.

2nd Year Uni

2nd year started as more of the same as 1st year, only harder. For the first time, I was worried about my marks, and no amount of bluffing was helping me clear it. Already I have forgotten many of the more difficult things, and this is a bad thing for the value of education. Also, during the holidays I was working practically full time, meaning that it felt a long time between holidays by the time I got to 3rd year.
Surprisingly enough, despite 2nd year bringing changes in personality, and a clear redefinition of friends – as clear as these things get anyway – the year on a whole was pretty unexceptional. Ordinary, even. I made my third and most successful abortive attempt at finding romantic interest, and while I didn’t turn a bitter side up, I certainly put ideas of romance on the backburner, where they’ve stayed ever since. Life winds & weaves though, and who knows where it will end up.

3rd Year Uni

2005 was a big year. It was so long that I practically forgot what happened at the start of the year, because of all of the events that came crashing after. The year started in a rush and really never slowed down. It was final year, after all.

First semester subjects were by and large mostly bleh. 2005 had to be the year with the most late night scrambling to finish assignments – I certainly hope so, because I have no desire to repeat that experience again. Two group projects also put things into perspective. But that wasn’t the big things – Job and Holiday sums it up very nicely.

Final year meant searching for work, and that meant going through the rigmarole of the interview process and everything that entails. My win/loss ratio from first applications is 10 to 1, which as these things are measured is decent enough. Win/loss after interview is 1 to 1, so I think my confidence-bullshitting shines through in face-to-face contact. Fingers crossed I haven’t got myself in past my head with this job. My advice when it comes to interviews? Talk with confidence. They’ll believe you. You just have to get your foot in the door.

And of course there was the holiday. Having saved up a neat little sum, I managed to persuade at least one person, Mr Studds, to accompany me. Going on a trip without the family in the first place was an entirely new experience, and going somewhere other than India was a whole other one. The USA was a blast, meeting so many people with whom I share a tenuous relation (it’s distant, believe me) but somehow can connect with near instantly. And of course putting a face to a name only seen online suddenly made the internet real, made America real. I’m not sure I can believe America really exists, even now, whether it’s all just an elaborate trick or not – but knowing people there, knowing these people get on with their daily lives in the bizzare and mysterious land known as America makes it just that little bit more believable.

Which isn’t even touching on Japan. Even when you are there, it’s a place you’re not entirely sure exists. It’s a country with so many contrasts that you can’t even begin to imagine what it’s like to live there every day. The short time I was there, I discovered something else everyday, something to add to the flavour, to give it context. The other thing was that I had gone to the effort of learning the language, and there it was, with the effort validated. Sure, I couldn’t walk down the street and understand everything around me, but I understood enough to work out what I was missing out on, and it filled me with a sense of satisfaction that I accomplished something which had a mundane, everyday existance. It wasn’t something intangible like the creation of a computer program, or something purely mental like being able to recite the first 20 elements and their properties. It was something that could, potentially, be of use, but in an ordinary way. You have to celebrate the little things, really.

The holiday proved to be exactly what I needed. I returned with a new sense of self, a new sense of purpose and a new perspective. All of which I promptly squandered, but I know they’re there, for me to draw on as needed.

And to cap the year, I moved to Sydney. I’d set out from Sydney 5 years earlier saying I’d be back. I’d given up the idea, even got to enjoying Melbourne. But then I found myself on the harbour, a sea breeze in my face and the sun peeking out between clouds, and I realised why I wanted to be back here. Here, I felt free – free to be whatever I could be.

After

Which is not to say I’ll live in Sydney my whole life, or even for the next 5 years – who knows, really? I’ve lived in 3 places in Australia, and each has granted me a different perspective. Ultimately, I have made some of my strongest friendships in Melbourne, and that will keep me coming back regardless of the what happens to the city, as long as my friends are there. Sydney is the place I choose to live though, because for some reason whenever I’m here I feel the closest thing to what one might call being at home. I don’t know why – I’ve lived in Melbourne longer, and longer still in Taree, the little country town. My birth place is thousands of miles away. But for some reason I identify with this place. In Melbourne, I identify with the people. The contexts are seperate, but in an ideal world they’d be the same.

I think it was Shakespeare that said “All the world’s a stage, and we are but players,” and if it wasn’t him, then someone certainly did. This is in effect the closing of one act, and the opening of another – or perhaps merely a change of scene. Time has a way of giving things perspective, but we must remember what it felt like in the moment. Perhaps that is why I write this now, half in Melbourne, half in Sydney, spooling thoughts before they are caught up in matters prosaic.

Certainly has been fun.

4 thoughts on “61 Months”

  1. Dude, the times have been good. I don’t believe the time has gone by quickly. I think I’m the same as you in relation to Japan and here. Japan feels so much like home. Melbourne has the people. I think I’ll be in those shoes in a few years as well. Out in Japan, living and working there – while missing the people down here.

    Life is what you make it – and you my dear sir have lived a life that you have chosen. You have the world in front of you, take it with your two hands and hold on for what could be the adventure of a lifetime.

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