12 years ago I embraced a new adventure. On November 12, 2007 this excited Canadian stepped off an Air Canada flight from Toronto into a new life in Sydney and into the arms of the man I was totally, excitedly and passionately in love with. This was the beginning of our life together, physically living on the same soil.
This was it. I had sold many of my belongings, my house, found a new home for Briggs, had far too many teary goodbyes, packed up some furniture and took a few suitcases stuffed with my warm weather clothes and off I went.
I left a cold grey November in Toronto and swapped it for a clear sunny Sydney summer’s day. And, while I was exhilarated and slightly apprehensive, I knew it was I had to do. I had no idea what lay ahead, who I would meet, how Chris and I would fare, where I would live, what I would do, see, experience, what would define my new life, but that was strangely fine with me because I was going to be doing it all with the man I so deeply loved.
It was surreal at first. I flipped back and forth from feeling like I was on vacation to feeling like an imposter and living someone else’s life – but I wasn’t. This was my new normal.
It took a lot of adjusting, but the change was exciting. Everyday was filled with new experiences, from exploring a new neighbourhood, to noticing a birdsong or flower I had not experienced before, to new embracing new smells, to meeting new people. It was intoxicating in its novelty. And, I was sharing it all with Chris.
I missed a lot of my Canadian experience in the first few years here, but those gaps were ultimately filled by the many new experiences that my great Aussie adventure was serving up daily.
What I missed the most wasn’t actually the ‘what’ it was more the ‘who’. I missed my incredible dad, I missed my sweet sister and my lil brother and his family. I missed my wonderful neighbours, my dear friends, my Ingenium workmates. My heart ached realising how much I missed Mr Briggs. I missed the change of seasons. I missed snow. I missed the confidence that came from knowing where to go for what. I longed for the familiarity of a route to anywhere, the best place for <insert object here>. I missed Canadian shopping and products, and driving on the other side of the road, the Canadian vocabulary, and most of all I missed the feeling of home.
Over time, I felt more at ease here. I enjoyed the many sweet moments as well as the adventure of seeing stunning new places, taking picturesque drives to explore another area. I got to know my new family and ultimately made a few new friends.
Chris and I made lovely homes together in a couple of different houses on the same street. We welcomed guests from Canada and around the world and made memories with our visitors. We enjoyed making new friends together, we embraced travel and adventures together and we made a nice life for ourselves.
The adventure over the past 12 years here with Chris in Australia has been bursting with incredible highs and gut wrenching lows, not unlike most adventures anywhere I suspect.
I am grateful for all that I have seen and experienced and lived in the past dozen years living here on this rich red soil. I have had incredible heart expanding moments, moments that have tested me to the very core, moments I am incredibly proud of, moments I’d far rather forget, moments of sheer exuberance, moments of intense sorrow, moments of inspiring awe, moments of immense gratitude, moments of self reflection, moments of learning, moments of vulnerability, moments of intense anger, moments of overwhelming contentedness, connectedness, calmness, curiosity, and comfort.
I am immensely grateful for my life here is Australia with Chris and all that it has brought me. 12 years ago I didn’t know my extended Betcher family. I had never met my now good group of Aussie friends and acquaintances, I didn’t even know, let alone have friendships and shared memories, with half the people who now make up my Facebook friends list. I also had never met those who have brought such great pain to my life. I had never even heard of companies like Teacher’s Mutual Bank, ABSA, LiteracyPlanet, Paperless Warehousing, or Vie Insurance. I had never started a business anywhere other than Canada. I had freelanced before, but never with so many or such diverse clients.
I have experienced incredible life-altering milestones whilst living here: I published my very first novel, and even wrote some poetry and even a song. I lost my incredible father and my dearest aunt. Chris and I got engaged and later married in Hawaii. I developed content and spoke at conferences. I climbed the Harbour Bridge, saw an Opera in the Sydney Opera House and kayaked in Sydney Harbour. We both held roles in the Canadian Australian Club. We fostered three Golden Retrievers and had the joy of sharing our lives with our beloved Buzzie for almost 7 years. I started this blog. I participated in an adventure race and ran the City to Surf a few times. And, I became and Australian Citizen.
This past 12 years provided some incredible travel opportunities for Chris and I. I’ve done a great deal of travel within Australia where I’ve been to 7 of the 8 states and their capital cities. I’ve bush camped in the Brindabella Ranges, walked dozens of Aussie beaches from Perth to Queensland. I’ve driven and seen from the air, The Great Ocean Road. I’ve snorkelled, boated and flown over the spectacular Great Barrier Reef. I’ve been deep sea fishing, whale watching, jet boating and sailing in our surrounding seas. I’ve hiked to the summit of Mount Kosciuszko and through various national parks and rainforests. I’ve caravaned around New Zealand, visiting her major cities. I’ve also been lucky enough to take trips to Hawaii, Indonesia, Thailand, New Zealand and seen so much of their incredible beauty.
And, I have maintained my Canadian ties to people and traditions that I hold dear. New people in both countries have entered the world. There have been some heartbreaking goodbyes as too many others I love have left this earth. But I am heartened by how, even from so far away, I have been able to re-connect and build some wonderful people from my past and make new friendships with new people back in Canada.
With all the wonder of the past 12 years to reflect upon today, it hammers it home to me what in my life holds the most importance – in order they are: 1. The interesting and incredible people who I am humbled to share life’s journey with.
2. The experiences we share together (even if that’s a great chat over a coffee or a messenger exchange)
3. The spectacular beauty this world has to offer us regardless of where we’re viewing it from.
So, 12 years and a million memories later, I am glad I embarked upon the adventure. People tell me that it took courage and strength to do it. Maybe. But, for me, it was that the love I felt for Chris provided me with whatever it was I needed to make the move. Upon reflection, I think I was also probably at my strongest, most confident and most authentic self when I met Chris, fell in love, and made the decision to come to Australia.
Today, sadly, I am not in that same space. In fact, it scares me how far away from that person I feel at times. But, I know with immense clarity now that my efforts over the next while need to focus on returning myself to that version me. The next adventure I take needs to be one focused on rediscovering my best self or reinventing a Linda that is even stronger, more loving, more adventurous, more resilient, more joyous, more confident, more authentic and more grateful for this incredible gift of life.