On a balmy Friday evening 20 years ago today I arrived in Melbourne with my trusty backpack and thought I’d stay awhile.
I’d now need an entire shipping container if I was to relocate again. I’d also have to put a house on the market and do something about a certain furry creature who I have become attached to.
I was a very young, feisty Kiwi thing – full of ideals and aspirations. How I came to be in this city was more of an act of blind faith than actual planning. I had awoken very early 2 Sunday’s earlier with a clear vision of what I wanted to do with my life and where I needed to go to do it. Though my intention was to study in Melbourne I had no idea if the course I wanted existed – I just assumed it would, as my dream had very specifically located it here. Life before the internet was definitely more adventurous.
On the journey through these past 2 decades I have acquired a new profession (complete with 4 years of education), started a business, been involved in assorted media (tv, radio and those glorious days of the net when they threw ridiculous amounts of money at people to form online communities), delighted in numerous lovers, made many great friends and adopted the beautiful Princess Prissy Paws. I now reside with the not boyfriend in an inner city piece of real estate and the odd times I get behind the wheel, it’s in a reliable car.
I still ride my bike, catch trams and walk. I have stayed living within 1-2 kms of my landing spot, residing in 6 houses and a few crash pads. I have lived with at least 25 other individuals. At a conservative estimate - 3 of whom would qualify for the diagnosis of ‘certifiably insane’. I have bought the same house twice. Somehow, despite me being aghast at a vital part of my interview with the Immigration Department (“What – you mean I could be asked to fight for this country?”) I managed to get a piece of paper proclaiming Australian citizenship. Though I sincerely hope I never have to sit through another rendition of “Waltzing Matilda” ever again.
I always thought I’d have a party with lots of tacky Australiana (flags, lamingtons and lashings of green and gold streamers) to mark this milestone but somehow I forgot.
Finishing the day without a single celebratory sip having passed my lips, I’m thinking how I can best honour the next few decades. I have been saying for a while that “I want to be a philanthropist when I grow up” and I would like to say before another 10 years passes, that in some small way I have achieved that. I also wish to see a deeper healing of the past and current atrocities against our indigenous peoples. By becoming an Australian, I realised I had to start taking ownership for that, not blaming it on the forebears of people from another nation.
Perhaps there’s still a skerrick of feisty Kiwi left in me after all.
Here’s to the next 20 years.