Well, it’s just over three years and two months since I returned from my seven year sojourn in South Korea and nearing three years on my move to Brisbane.
To say the time has been completely pain free and carefree would be somewhat of a colossal misnomer. The effects of reverse culture shock, accompanied with returning to an ailing economy – artificially boosted by one particular sector – but largely stagnant, dormant in all others has taken its fair share of knocks, setbacks and pitfalls.
The first prolonged and sustained periods of un- and under-employment have taught me many things, mostly persistence and patience – both of which are virtues in my book – and there was many a time when I pondered whether I had made the right decision. Sometimes, a seemingly fast, spur of the moment decision can ripple down through time into something much more profound, pronounced and indeed, life changing.
I returned to Sydney in April 2010, full of brim and bluster but also with an amount of trepidation about just what the future held – in hindsight, that proved to be not entirely without reason. As the next couple of months followed and situations changed, I jumped at the chance of an offer to stay in Brisbane and give the Queensland capital a shot after failing to reconnect fully with hometown following my return like a prodigal son.
One of my sisters – at that stage, resident in this fine city – offered a few months lodging with the aim of providing a new place and change of atmosphere. I immediately took to the relaxed nature, laidback attitudes, ‘no worries’ air that surrounded Brisbane as opposed to its larger southern sisters.
But, employment wasn’t as forth coming as I imagined, anticipated, or had hoped. For someone who up to this point had had an uncanny ability to land into jobs without much effort, a period of job and soul searching was demanded. I started school the following year, doing a Graduate Diploma in Education with the aim of being a Geography teacher, but the reality of university coursework – which I handled quite well, in all honesty – and particularly in school practicums proved too much at the time. – I lasted one week of prac at a haughty, all girls’ Catholic school before deciding this weren’t for me.
Then, the search for employment – namely library employment resumed. A series of volunteer, casual and seasonal work-things rolled into work in a call centre June last year. This five month experience taught me a lot and I gained many skills, met some good, genuine people, but for the life of me dreaded every waking moment spent at that place. I just found the whole workplace and work itself completely and utterly soul destroying and so detrimental to my physical and emotional health that I’d rather resign with notice yet no other prospect than work any longer there. And, I did.
On came another period of unemployment, punctuated with the occasional ESL tutoring once or twice a week which was the lot until six weeks ago. Since, then I’ve acquired a part-time job more to my liking, though only 20 hours a week regrettably, but despite these job woes for the most part I’m happy as punch – a sharp contrast to the years of 2010 and 2011.
Those above mentioned years were spent as if I were a rudderless ship, a vessel but not soul. No purpose, little promise and little pride. Life had taken a couple of punches and quite a few had indeed landed.
I didn’t feel at home in Brisbane. I didn’t feel at home anyway. I didn’t feel at home without myself. Life’s journey can take us up and it came take us down, for me those two years were quite a prolonged downtime.
Meeting my lover, meeting my friend, meeting my soulmate. From there, things seemed to have a purpose, the bad didn’t seem so bad, although everything wasn’t clear there was at least some clarity.
I thank Rosy for seeing what she saw in me and choosing to give me a chance. My mood, opportunities, contacts, connections, trust and hope have all grown immeasurably since you entered my life.
For that reason, I now truly call Brisbane home. For home is where the heart is, and my heart is here.