So here we are. Three years after I last blogged regularly and about seven years since I first started writing them. I had grand plans to write again this year, but I’d fallen out of habit and just couldn’t focus hard enough to get the thoughts out of my head. I found too many distractions. I was on sabbatical, happily travelling the world for no reason other than to tick enough places off my list that I could throw away the travel brochures in my storage unit. Europe first, then Africa; for almost a year I was taking the first major, independent holiday of my life. I had this list of things I planned to do as I travelled; setting up a business, read many of the books in my e-book collection, write. Instead, I happily got caught up in watching tv series’ season by season, and, by the time I was sitting on an overland truck crossing Africa, I’d gotten addicted to a mindless game app. I didn’t mind too much, I mean, what else to do on a truck for six hours each day? When I tried to write, I got motion sickness. I couldn’t focus on ideas for the business, I couldn’t even get through podcasts. My mind was firmly set in enjoying Africa doing nothing in particular.
In the background was this ever-changing world. Coronavirus was spreading, first China and parts of Asia. Then Italy. Passing Zimbabwe, Zambia, Botswana, we got maybe five minutes a day of wifi if we were lucky. So, while we knew it was out there and spreading, we existed in this cosy, isolated, news-free haven of our truck and while some worried about what they read, I felt untouchable. We were fine. COVID-19 had not hit Africa, other than a case or two; we were safer than if we were at home, oddly enough.
Then one afternoon in Namibia, everything changed. Continue reading
And Letting Go
It takes six months to pack up, six months to unpack – David Pollock, Third Culture Kids
Mentally, emotionally, literally – Pollock, the late expert on nomadic expat life was right. When I left Australia in 2002, it was an exit I knew was a long time coming. Travel was all I ever dreamed of doing. And, months before I gave notice in each job overseas, I realised that I was emotionally ready to leave. Sometimes it was due to visas running out, other times because with families ever-growing and changing, the time was just right. Now, after three years here, I know it’s time to go. Mentally, I have been coming to terms with the exit for months, planning how to wrap up work projects, working out what jobs big or small, need attention. Making and checking off a list of sightseeing and experiences to finally do. Pollock is spot on – much as it does take months to emotionally plant your roots in the new destination and feel connected, likewise, the emotional pack up, the mental preparation to leave, equally doesn’t happen overnight. After so much practice, moving here, moving there, I’m still in amazement of how well it’s going. Continue reading
How much can life change in the space of a couple of weeks? A month ago I was living in the comfy confines of my parents’ home, casually contemplating life and writing out my blogs at a leisurely pace. I had not long arrived there post disastrous holiday, but with a renewed sense of what I wanted from life. Then I started getting offers for work overseas as a nanny again, and the more I got them the more I pondered life and how to move forward, and the pros and cons of life in Australia versus a nomadic life again. Lo and behold, I decided to go for it, and this time last week I left my family to return to Melbourne for what was a crazy week of farewells, organising and packing.
Having written my post about recycling and trouble getting rid of the excess in my storage unit, the timing was perfect to spend just a short week there preparing for my flight the following week.
Subdued in a long-lasting melancholy of how to move forward in life post-university, my extended summer holiday break had got me thinking seriously about my future, for the first time since everything well, stopped.
Caught up in a series of extracurricular projects, my last year of university passed in a blur of poverty, homelessness and volunteering. I don’t even know how I fit study in, it certainly wasn’t a priority by then – survival was. I remember one week realising I didn’t have enough money to get to class on the bus past Monday’s classes, and borrowing university financial aid for bus fare. I was so sure all the volunteering would give me those amazing ‘transferable skills’ employers look for, that I was one step away from my marvellous future. I just needed to survive the year. Lightening my load was never an option.
One of these projects, an event, carried over into the months after my undergraduate study finished. By the time the event was done I had started my post-grad degree, and a second short course, and found myself caught up in study plus seeking work and working in temporary jobs that would maybe lead to something more interesting. I had a career direction in mind that I was sure was the future I wanted – job security, interesting work, great salary; my future stitched up. Talk about a minimalist life – when I had my graduation ceremony in 2014, I was living in a hostel, had no computer after the robbery, then two donated, old heavy laptops, but no place to study, was surviving on unemployment benefits half eaten by credit card debt repayments, credit that had been spent originally on day to day living when money was tight. All my things were stuck in storage around the corner, but life was just, survival. Certainly not living. Continue reading
I feel like I am on the way to truly minimising my stuff. Over the weekend I began the tedious task in my storage unit of dividing things to sell, recycle, donate or keep. I was feeling very much on top of things, only to then have to put it all back in when the property was closing. Today I returned with a friend without much of a mission except that I needed her help.
This is why it’s useful to have friends, folks. We began pulling things out and I would say oh, this goes with that, and she would offer to put them together, leaving me to move on to something else. For 10 years I have always been alone in my journeys of sorting through my stuff in the 2 units I’ve had, so although the extra help was new, I took advantage very quickly and soon we were spread out down the hall with piles, including some small bags to take home. It was so wonderful having someone willing to do that for me. Continue reading
Is there anything to inspire a person more into action than accepting an international job that gives you two months to pack up and prepare to move? Especially when you’ve done it all before, and learned all the mistakes the hard way the first time? Oh the clarity of what really needs to be done and what hard choices really need to be made!
Over the past month I have been working and attempting to finish up some projects that I’d really rather avoid taking with me. But in the back of my mind, I’ve also been constantly thinking about my month of no work before I move, and my 13 metre square unit full of all my worldly goods, that could probably be whittled down before departure. Continue reading
I started writing the content for what would eventually become this blog just over a month ago. In it, I lamented about the huge amount of decluttering I had to do. I noticed a habitual pattern of collections, and decided I should shake that habit – or at least decide what to do about it. I wrote and wrote about three pages of frustration about the hoarding I have done over the years and my efforts over the past five years to deal with it.
Then my laptop got stolen. Words. Gone. Go figure. The irony of decluttering and having certain things stolen from me in a robbery was not lost. I hated that my precious, sentimental and favourite things were gone. Jewellery from my childhood and 21st birthday. Two computers, my passports. And random things too at times, like my shopping cart (getaway vehicle!) and favourite Thai sarong (to wrap the laptop in?). A lot of data was gone. But thankfully not the external hard drives I had carelessly left on the desk that day. They had my entire photo collection on them.
It’s November 2013, 5 weeks since the robbery, and I’m trying to move forward. Continue reading
By your late 20s, how much had you/have you accumulated? If you had to pack it all up in suitcases and boxes – how many pieces would you have? How much would it weigh altogether? Would it all even fit in boxes and suitcases? How much would you have without counting furniture?
When I first moved overseas at the age of 23, I took 1 small and 2 large suitcases. It was about 70kg that I tried to take with me on the plane to London. I was moving over for ten years, I determined, so I wanted all my favourite stuff with me. Except I didn’t have anyone to ship it to; no one I knew had ever lived abroad long-term before, so naively, I thought the only other option was to lug it all myself by plane. Continue reading
The day is 35 degrees Celsius. I am due to leave by overnight train for my holiday destination late in the day. Two days earlier, I have packed up ‘the big stuff’ and moved it back into my three-quarters full storage unit: my bike, extra blankets and bedding, my Christmas tree and decorations, a barely-used camping washer I thought could substitute an actual washing machine. I was tasked thereafter with packing my clothes back into their long-term home (my favourite large suitcase) as well as packing up my blow-up mattress and mismatched, ill-fitting bedding and towels, my beloved radio/cd player, my fan and portable rail/wardrobe, ready to move out of my latest temporary home and back into their packed up status in their usual boxes and shopping bags to live in my storage unit. I was loathe to pack up the fan and make do with open windows of hot air for lack of any air-conditioner.
What are the signs of an eternal nomad? That I never throw away boxes because surely I will soon be packing the contents back in again? That I have an unusually high collection of green, chilly and other cloth shopping bags for random stuffing at each move? Is it normal to own no less than 6 suitcases that are constantly filled? Since 2002, I have lived out of a suitcase – travelling, living and working in 13 countries around the world. Back ‘home’, despite seeing it as the sign of having too much, I have rented storage space almost the entire time. Nomad. Hoarder. Guilty.