Thursday, 5 February 2015

Breakaway - reflections on living one life in two places.

 I'll spread my wings and I'll learn how to fly
I'll do what it takes til' I touch the sky
And I'll make a wish
Take a chance
Make a change
And breakaway...

In a lot of ways, I have been a lucky one. I moved out of home at nineteen to study in Adelaide with my parents' unconditional support. I did all the right things - I came home for every holiday, long weekend and weeks in between. I had two homes. I had two lives. But, eventually, the time came, and I just needed to have one life.

Being silly on YITS Retreat.( I am wearing an old man's hat.)
I had planned to go to Adelaide and study Year in the Son at Tabor Adelaide since I was sixteen, and after my gap year, that's what I did. I live with a friend for six months, then lived in my own flat for a few years, lived with my brother for a year, then by myself for another two, and finally finished my uni days living at a friend's house. I moved a lot, which was not the plan at all. Best laid plans, yeah, whatever.

To say I grew a lot during this time would be a massive understatement. I embraced, eventually, who I was, what I liked, what I didn't, how I wanted to live. Most of all, I loved living by myself, in my own space, though living with Matt was pretty good too because no one gets you like your own family. I made a lot of friends in Adelaide, and I was so grateful to have the opportunity to do Year in the Son, as well as making new friends at uni. The majority of my close Adelaide friends from my early days here are still in my life today. That means an awful lot.

What I
discovered about coming home to see my friends and family... you could write a book about it.

At first it was really hard being away from my family because we are really close. If I had a choice, I would have lived with them until I was married or had to move out because they asked me to. We talked, wrote and emailed a lot during my first two years of being an Adelaide girl, but once I'd been established in Adelaide and no longer crazy homesick, I didn't need so much varied and constant contact... although I would call my Mum and Gran every day (and still do). While I was away my brothers grew up and changed a whole lot, and it was a bit of a pain that I would come back and expect things would be the same when they really weren't. Sometimes I outstayed my welcome, although no one ever said that. I felt guilty not being able to come home, but when I was home I would be restless too.

My friends. Oh, good grief.
I learnt a lot about friendship while I was away. Growing up I always had a best friend and a couple of close friends, but during my gap year (between high school and leaving for Adelaide) my very best and favourite friend left for Western Australia. I had a few friends leave for interstate, a few lose complete interest in socialising, and lost contact with a lot of friends from school (who I really only saw at school anyway). The main group of people I saw a lot of were people from church, especially the youthies who were all a few years younger than me. I think a lot of people had good intentions of staying in touch when I left, but it just didn't really happen the way I hoped, and I really did have a bit of a mass exodus of friends when I left.
Being a youthie on a Friday night!

My closest friend from home was certainly not someone I would have thought would be my closest, not by a long shot. We used to go out a lot of Saturday nights, along with other friends from school, but I was tired of this eventually and after an incident with a cheeseburger, we haven't been out on the town since. I was invited to plenty of 21st parties, all of which I attended and made special trips home for, which I may not have done had I known I wouldn't see a lot of those people after their parties!

I have to say, with some notable exceptions, that I don't really miss people who I had in my life then. I often felt a bit used, and even when I was living in Adelaide, I still found that I was paying for someone else's lunch even though they could afford it (really, I just wanted company). I got to the point that unless I ran into someone, I just stopped making lunch and coffee dates with people because a lot of times it would be me chasing them, or them asking 'when will you be down next, I miss you,' followed by not actually seeing them.

After my first year away, I stopped doing the chasing, and found that I was a lot happier just hanging out with my family, rather than having those constant 'remember when' or 'you know so and so' chats. I wanted something that wasn't based on the past, and that can be hard to come by when you don't share experiences with someone. After spending a year or three with people with similar interests to my own, doing stuff we all enjoyed, unfair comparisons were made, and I just didn't want what social life my home town had to offer.

I didn't really like the idea of hanging around Adelaide over school holidays, especially as I only worked during the school term and I could save a lot of money by not living in my flat for a couple of weeks. In some ways this was a false commodity (I still needed to get home after all), but it was a notion everyone approved of.

And when it all started to change.

Coming home, although I really loved it, was always a little bit of a chore. I would catch a bus after Friday lectures and come back on Sunday nights. I would never drive, except in emergencies, and probably saved a lot by just doing the bus thing.

Road trip to Robe with Mr Photogenic.
By time I was almost out of uni and working on my final two subjects, I was working part time on weekends and holidays, so going home on the bus was no longer a priority, or even an option. The longest time I had been 'stuck in Adelaide' was ten weeks, and by time those ten weeks were up I was so excited about going home that I couldn't actually sleep that night! I found I was wanting more with quality time and actually planning weekends around when Mum had time off work or there was something special on. On a few occasions I would come home and only let my parents know the day before because I had only just made my mind up, or had a few days off work. And now... I think I enjoy my trips home a lot better. My time there is more of a novelty factor rather than 'oh, Lisa's back again', which no body actually ever said, but that's sometimes how I felt about my trips home.

I wouldn't change how I did it though for a few reasons. Firstly, during my first two years at uni, my grandparents would come over most weekends I was coming home so they could see me. I am so grateful for this extra time I was given with Pa. I spent a few weeks in Warrnambool with Pa and Gran while he was sick and this really helped me in a lot of ways, especially through the grieving process, and I felt that I had been the most supportive I could have possibly been during that time.

Secondly, I feel like I gave myself a chance to transition. I am a really emotional person at the best of times, and knowing I would be home every two or three weeks actually did help me settle. There are a few times when this wasn't good, especially regarding placement for uni, and not giving myself enough time to prepare. By time I was in my third year of study, I had worked this out though, and didn't go home until my placements were well and truly over.

Finally, I was glad I was able to have two homes, especially when I didn't know if I wanted Adelaide to be my home or not. For the first eighteen months or so I was almost resentful that I had chosen the road I had happily put myself on. I got to a point when I realised that I didn't really know if I wanted to move back to Mount Gambier, and after I accepted that I wouldn't move there (or Warrnambool for that matter), I felt a whole lot better.

Being dorky nerds at the drive in.

I wrote this because I've been away from home for ten years now (!!!), which is a sign that I'm aging far too quickly. I have also been thinking about this a lot, having heard plenty of stories of people who lived in Adelaide during the week, but would commute to their hometowns for the weekends... and vice versa. Mine was a longer commute, but worth it in the end.

I admire people who can pack up their lives and move on and away. I am not one of those people.

It has been hard saying goodbye at Balaklava, at Pirie and Laura, and especially Kadina. Like I feel about Adelaide, a lot of people included me as part of their families, urban or otherwise, for a short while, and I am so happy for their kindness and generosity. On the other hand... I am happy just to be back in my adopted home. This is, really, the life I chose. It's taken me on some pretty whacked out adventures. But I wouldn't change it. Not at all.

Out of the darkness and into the sun
But I won't forget all the ones that I love
I'll take a risk
Take a chance
Make a change
And breakaway.
- Breakaway - Kelly Clarkson