Wednesday, July 9, 2014

A soul reignited: A tribute to the city, the people, and the year that forever changed my life

I had to take a break from my fun and light-hearted posts and take some time to write about how I'm really feeling. With the end of my time here quickly approaching, I can't write honestly and to my full potential, without first expressing how truly broken I am about having to say goodbye.

You see, it's no surprise that leaving people and a place you so desperately love is heart-wrenching. We all know that. We "get it". Even worse though, is when it is completely out of your control. Thank you Australian government for that dagger. I reallllly appreciate it.

It feels a little like a break up with your first love, multiplied by 10, and followed by a bash of your head to a slab of concrete. Except worse. So much worse.

I've done a pretty good job at ignoring the inevitable, and have been in a constant state of denial until I hit the 'less than 30 day mark'. But now I have to desperately fight back tears every time the girls hug me tight and beg me not to go. Lately, it's become an everyday battle of "Why do you have to leave your little girls?" sort of phrases, and me not having a very good explanation. Thanks again government for being virtually unexplainable to 3 and 5 year olds.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Incase you're a newbie to the blog, you might not be aware of the back story here. So let me a shed a little light on how drastic things have changed in just one short year.

Before I moved to Perth, Australia, I was living in good 'ol Wisconsin, USA. I used to be happy there, but it had been a hard couple of years after college. My friends had all moved away, my 5 year relationship was failing, and the only thing that made me happy anymore was spending all of my time at work, which is sad in and of itself. Don't get me wrong. I loved my (3) jobs. Working with my kids (especially the beloved twins I nannied for) was literally the only reason I got up in the morning. But, I was battling bouts of a depression, even if I didn't truly recognize it at the time. And other than a good (and busy) work schedule, I couldn't help but feel that the rest of my little world was quickly falling apart around me.

It's fair to say that I was having a full-fledged, and very real, quarter-life crisis.

So there I was, living with my boyfriend, but almost always completely alone. Not just alone. Depressed and alone. A somewhat lethal and undesirable combination. It was work schedules, it was different personalities, but it was mostly that our futures didn't align anymore. We were falling out of love, and without the distraction of my friends, I finally had the chance to notice it. And because I was so undeniably sad, lonely, and tired, I felt I had no choice but to work and sleep my life away. It was all I could do to stop myself from desperately wondering where we went wrong and why things had to be this way. After all, a half a decade of dating, only to have it fail in the end, tends to leave a person understandably distraught.

And even though I knew that letting go would be the hardest thing I've ever had to do (and it was), I wasn't about to let my life end up this way. So while I was becoming somewhat emotionally prepared, I still needed a real plan to leave. Really leave. Something big, something drastic, and something I could (and would) not want to back out of.

And that's when I found Au Pairing.

It was a perfect blend of taking care of kids and traveling the world, which just happen to be my two greatest passions. I wasn't cut out for 65 hour work weeks, paying for nothing but bills and student debt, and living in a virtually loveless relationship anymore. I was cut out for making 'being happy' a priority, and a reality. And so, I did.

I was clueless about what the process, the move, and the job entailed initially. But after my very first conversation with the family from behind my computer in Wisconsin, I just knew that this was the 'something' I was looking for. It caught me and a lot of people by surprise (my boyfriend included), but this was the most decisive I had ever felt about anything, in my entire life. And that says a lot coming from a person who can barely decide what to eat for lunch on a daily basis. I had to trust my instincts, be brave, let go, and move forward. It was time to stop wasting life, and time to start living it.

And so, I paid off the last of my debt, sold my belongings, took a one-way flight across pacific, and never looked back.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

It's been nearly a year now since I took that flight as a terrified and alone girl in the midst of a life crisis. It's been one year since this city and the perfect blend of a French/Australian family stole my heart. One year since I was saved from my own disastrous path of undesired conventionality. And one year since I discovered the difference between simply being awake and truly feeling alive.

And I feel that I owe it all to them:

Ben: One of the smartest and hardest working people I've ever met. Hopelessly dedicated to his family and making sure everyone is happy. The first to offer a place to stay to a friend in need, and is quickly there with a beer to follow :)! We bonded over our mutual love of chicken wings, pale ale's, and sarcasm. He has taught me SO much about the world and traveling, and I'm so grateful for that.

Julie: The most selfless woman I've ever known. A superwoman of sorts, who puts everyone's wants and needs before her own. The mom who never stops moving and almost never takes time for herself. A dedicated career woman, wife, and mother who is so lovingly invested in her family. She is so easy-going, so easy to talk to, and someone that I so humbly admire. 

Lola: The most creative, artsy, and talented little girl I know. She has the most selfless and beautiful soul, and made it truly effortless to fall in love with her. She is a perfect example of what is right in the world. I will miss all of your beautiful drawings, your thoughtfulness, and you putting a smile on my face every single day. 

Emilie: A spunky and modern day punky brewster (90's television show, for anyone confused). A lover of the color orange, tigers, spiderman, and pushing limits. She dances to the beat of her own drum, tells it like it is, and is also one of the sweetest kids I know. I will miss our special one-on-one dates, your eskimo kisses, and our mutual love of mac n cheese. You have my heart little girl, and you don't even know it.

Now, not every au pair has a similar situation. In fact, I would say that many keep their emotions to a minimum, and look at it simply as a job providing means for future travel. They build no real attachment, say meaningless goodbyes, and move forward quite easily. Some have a bit more of a connection, but perhaps not to the same degree. And for the rest of you fortunate souls like me? I'm sorry. While it makes living abroad one of the best experiences of your life, it also makes the goodbye that much more devastating. And as desperately as I'd like to be able to get through the next few weeks emotionally unscathed, viewing this opportunity as a job whatsoever was far from my experience. They were family from day one, and that bond is irreplaceable. And I'm so incredibly lucky. 

To put this whole thing simply? 

I love them. And I'm really going to miss when this isn't my life anymore. 

I'm going to miss our Friday night taco nights, my King's Park dates with the girls, the cuddles, the kisses, and the 'I love you's'. I'm going to miss our vacations (holidays), our lunch dates, and having to order dessert every single time! I'm going to miss the 90 degrees in December, the most beautiful beaches on the planet, and the occasional times I was rescued when alcohol got the best of me, even if it was kind of your fault in the first place :) (thanks Ben). I'm going to miss our lame (and awesome) 8 pm bedtimes, our japanese mayo obsession, and our brutally honest conversations about life and love.

And I'm even going to miss not sleeping in, potty training, and the occasional cleaning puke out of someone's hair. Even those pesky dinner time meltdowns, too. Because even the hard days were good days. And the good days, some of my absolute best. A million thanks would never be enough to show my gratitude, but it's certainly worth a try. I owe it all to this job, this city, and this family. My travel soul is reignited, and my life forever changed. And I am eternally grateful.

Thank you all for your continuous love and support, and for faithfully reading what a little girl from the midwest has to say. Any guesses on how many times I'll emotionally fall apart through airport security this year? I wasn't sure I could be more of a mess than I was last August, but who knows, I'm constantly surprising myself. I see lots stares and consoling from strangers in the very near future.

I'll be honest, I'm not sure I'm quite ready for you yet New Zealand. Then again, I don't know that I ever really will be. But here's to looking up, moving forward, and pushing towards another big (and exciting) life change. Ready or not life, here I come.

6 comments:

  1. Everybody can change their life like you. Very informative blog. Thanks for share.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Everyone would like to change is won life as you.This is really very informative post…….

    ReplyDelete
  3. Hi Jerrica,

    I love your blog! And the way you are living your life right now, i don't really know how to comment here so i'm hoping you will receive this comment :)
    I'm from belgium but changing my life as well, at this point i'm moving to france to live in paris. I'm thinking about going to australia in the summer. Do you have any tips on whereto go there? Or things to see there? Thank you so much! All the best! Kelly

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Kelly! thanks for reading and taking the time to comment :). Just keep in mind that visiting Australia in your summer would be their winter, so it would likely be a bit colder and rainy in some parts. I've visited a lot of places and it's hard to choose a favorite. I really loved Sydney, Melbourne and the Great Barrier Reef and would definitely recommend going to all of those places if you can find the time. It's a truly magical country! Best wishes and safe travels!

      Delete
  4. Hi Jerrica!
    Oh thank you so much for all the tips! Yes i've heard... My friends are calling me absolutly crazy to go there during wintertime, but i just cannot wait any longer to see kangaroos :D i have bought my ticket, and the destination will be 'perth' don't know if you have any experience with that city? I'm already planning to go to 'fremantle' and a little island with mini kangaroos called 'rottnest island' if i i can i'll try to get to other parts of australia in december. It would be fun to be at the beach with my birthday :P do you have an instagram account or something like that? Which i can follow? Thank you for ur reply! And hope everything goes like you wish it to be over there. Sorry for the late reply though i couldn't find my password for this email account anymore, got disconnected for a few weeks (lol)

    ReplyDelete