Well, in my last post I did say I needed a break – and here I am 2 months later finally getting close to feeling myself again.
The past 2 months have been deliciously slow and a total whirlwind all at the same time. After graduating I went home to Florida for a few weeks, where I relished in doing nothing and spending time with my family. I tried to stay focused on healing my body and spirit from the trauma that was graduate school in New York City, but I also dedicated a lot of my efforts to tying up the loose ends from my life in New York and preparing for my impending move to Australia. Finally, just as I was headed to the airport to leave the hemisphere, I got the package I had been waiting for: my diploma arrived not a moment too soon. When I opened the tube that held that all-important piece of paper I felt like I had just exhaled a breath I had been holding for a year and a half. Here was the proof that I actually did it. Grad school was done. New York was behind me. Finally, the future I had been longing for seemed in reach.
After a 30+ hour journey I arrived in Melbourne. The days that followed were a total blur of emotion and deep, deep sleep. It’s hard to explain what it feels like to finally be with the person you love – without a set date to say goodbye again – after over of a year of long distance. It was euphoric and mindboggling and overwhelming in the best way, and in the moments I wasn’t sleeping off my impressive jetlag, I found myself in a state of total disbelief that A: Tom and I were finally, finally together and B: HOLY CRAP I LIVE IN AUSTRALIA NOW.
When I was in the rare emotional state that existed somewhere between jetlag and incredulity, I threw myself into the task of nesting. I spent hours looking for apartments online and finding the best deals I could on secondhand furniture to fill our new home with. While I’ve been out of my parents’ house for ten years now, I had actually only rarely lived in a place that didn’t come fully furnished (one of the few perks of seasonal and school housing situations!) and I became obsessed with finally crafting a spot that was totally my own. It all paid off in the end – Tom and I are now settled in the most perfect apartment with (almost) all of the furniture we need!
And then, last week, I took the final step of my transition to life in Melbourne: I started work. I’m now relief teaching in schools around the city (or substitute teaching, as we call it in the States), and it’s going really well!
To be honest, after 3 semesters of student teaching in other teachers’ classrooms, I was not stoked to enter someone else’s space again. I felt exhausted by the lack of autonomy and was eager to flex my teaching muscles for the first time with 100% independence. In relief teaching, it’s a special challenge to enter someone else’s classroom and pick up where they left off in the style and tone that they’ve set – often without even meeting them and with very few notes to go off of. But I’m actually really enjoying finding ways to be creative with the tasks that have been given to me, and I’m so, so thrilled to be working with kids again. I’ve got some really exciting long-term opportunities in the works for a little bit further down the line, but for now I’m enjoying getting to know the schools of the city (not to mention the public transportation routes!) and the kiddos who learn here.
Re-reading the first part of this post, I realized that I used the word ‘finally’ a lot. This new life of mine has been a long time coming, and for now I’m just soaking in the realities of living it. That doesn’t mean I won’t be on the move again soon though – I’m knee deep in planning a second New Zealand road trip for the upcoming holidays (this time I’ll be dragging my parents along!), and Tom and I have aspirations for several weekend trips in the near feature. I’m hoping to get back into the routine of exploring and writing, but I’m giving myself time to ease into that.
These two months of reflecting and healing have left me thankful for so many things. In particular I am thankful for this blog and the journey I’ve been able to document here. All of my time in the National Parks, traveling in Japan, Mexico, and Nicaragua, and the late nights and early mornings spent navigating New York City – they all have lead up to this moment of pause. I’m so excited to keep moving, but for a few more weeks at least, I’m looking forward to standing still and settling in.