A boy takes a girl out for a drink. In an anonymous pub in Camden, they sip their pints and stare shyly at each other, and think, “I like you.”
10,000 miles away, I wake up to a new day in Australia, three days into a three week holiday. I snooze my alarm, read a little, shower, have a leisurely breakfast. I have no idea that my life has just changed forever.
The details don’t matter, but suffice to say there was heartbreak. There were tears and wine and pizza and more tears and blinding hangovers and long exhausting phone calls and waking up every morning not knowing how I was going to get up and face the day. And in the middle of all of that, there was a new start.
I was exhausted when I landed in Sydney, worn out from a 24 hour flight and four months of putting on a brave face. My heart ached for everything I’d lost and how much I was leaving behind. There was no plan, really.
Here in the sunshine, I heal. I go for long dinners by myself. I read ferociously. I remember that I have opinions of my own, and that they’re as valid as anyone else’s. I interview for a job I want, and they ring me five minutes after I leave their office to tell me it’s mine. I move in with strangers, and they become my friends. I take our dog for long rambling walks every morning before work. I sweat in the heat, and every day my skin turns a little darker. I sleep better, for longer. There are no more nightmares. There are no more tears.
Ask me about this year and I’ll tell you about watching my tan lines deepen, about drinking ciders in the sunshine, about driving through sun-dappled back streets in my housemate’s car. I’ll tell you about waiting for the bus in the early morning sunshine, the look on our dog’s face when you catch him upstairs, the smell of burgers cooking in our back yard.
I’ll tell you about the feel of sun-warmed sand on my feet, about beating hangovers with a swim in the ocean, about a Christmas party held in the blazing sunshine. I’ll tell you about the moment my boss tells me that they’d like to sponsor me, about making plans for next Christmas and knowing I’ll still be here.
I’ll tell you about the Sunday night Skype dates, running through Central station at rush hour, walking home with bare legs and no coat, about crossing the Harbour Bridge at 6am and seeing the sun rise over the Opera House. I’ll tell you about the road trips, the boat trips, the moment you meet someone and something clicks inside you and you can see in their eyes that they’ve felt it too.
I’ll tell you that I’ve remembered who I am, where for a long time I’d forgotten; that I know what I’m capable of, where before I wasn’t sure. And I’ll tell you how happy I am, how peaceful – but you’ll already know, because it’s there in the curve of my smile, the pitch of my laugh and the light in my dancing, sparkling eyes.