Arriving in Melbourne and being at a crossroads

I’ve been in Melbourne for just over 24 hours now. I’ve spent much of the last few days scouring the internet for cheap rooms available within the next 2 weeks that have a desk and a quiet place where I can work during the day from home. I told the work peeps that I would aim for starting in 2 weeks (and this is actually pushed back 2 weeks, I had rushed it way too much initially), so that is my timeline. And it is proving to be very difficult and I still feel rushed. Most places I’ve looked at aren’t free for several weeks or more, or don’t have space to work in, or are too far out in the boonies. Looking for a place is always so stressful!

Meanwhile, I’m staying in a hostel room with 4 beds (2 bunk beds). It’s not a bad hostel except that there’s no air conditioning. And while Melbourne isn’t as hot as Sydney, it’s still in the mid-20s C / 80s F and very, very humid. Thankfully, I am actually on a bottom bunk and have managed to co-opt the room’s fan. As usual, no one else seems to mind the heat as much as I do. But that’s just in the room – the weather is actually perfect to me when walking around outside.

Today was a surprisingly eventful day! I was planning on just running around looking at apartments, but ended up cancelling the first appointment (I don’t think it had room for a desk really anyway), then taking an hour-long train ride to the second one, in a suburb that turned out to be pretty creepy by the time I walked to the apartment I was to see. I was early, so I waited on a bench at a bus stop, and I’ve never had so many people staring at me in such a short time. One guy drove by me, smiled, stopped his car nearby, kept waving at me to come over, and then just stayed there until I finally left. Another guy drove by me twice, kept trying to talk to me, and then literally drove around the block and got out of his car and tried to hit on me by walking with me. He did leave me alone after I said I wasn’t interested, but by this time, I was thoroughly creeped out and had abandoned my appointment. Even if it’s not an actually dangerous neighborhood, I wouldn’t want to live there. Don’t worry, everyone, most of Melbourne is not like that, and I feel about as safe here in the central area as I would in London.

So then I went to this hip area, Brunswick East (right next to Fitzroy, which is even more hip). Along the way, I passed the Parliament building, the central government of Victoria (the state Melbourne is in) and it had a sign out front: “OPEN DAY” and a bunch of people were lined up to go in. I thought, there probably aren’t a lot of open days because this seems special, so I went in. I browsed through the various rooms, including a library, the rooms where the members vote, the members dining room (where I naturally had to stop and have scones and tea), and the gardens. It’s all very beautiful, grand, and ornate, as many old government buildings I’ve visited are.

After my tangent, I finally made it to my appointment, and a friendly Aussie guy showed me the room he has in his place. It seemed great except that he’s currently unemployed and plays music a lot (so it may be hard to work during the day, and I do like my quiet anyway) and the room also isn’t available for another 3 weeks. That’s both a long time to stay in a hostel, and past my goal date for starting work. But still, he seems cool, and we ended up eating at a vegetarian restaurant (which he suggested before he knew I was vego) and along the way, encountering a very cool market in his neighborhood that he didn’t even know existed. Basically, I have already made a new Aussie friend on my first day, somehow, and enjoyed two of my favorite things: markets and veg food.

This evening, I walked over to the South Bank area, a strip along the river with a lot of restaurants, bars, and quality buskers playing live music. Very fun to just walk around, and I got a cheese toastie with leeks and bechemel from a section of Melbourne’s Food and Wine Festival called “Legendairy”, and I ate it next to the peaceful river as the sun was going down.

So overall, a good day, and I’m liking this city as I had expected I would. But behind all this, a mental struggle is going on, because I feel like I’m at a crossroads and I’m thinking about changing my plans. DUN DUN DUN…

As you may know, I left my cat with a friend I trust to take care of her, and if I thought she wouldn’t be okay, I doubt I would’ve come to Australia at all. Well, a couple of weeks into my trip, my friend let me know that she wasn’t adjusting well at all. She is very stressed out to the point where she has being going to the bathroom on random things, which she has never done in her life – she is a very well behaved cat. She even got an upper respiratory infection (she’s never been sick either since I had her) which the vet said was most likely due to stress.

Why is this different than when I went to London? Well, at that point, I left her with my boyfriend at the time – same apartment, she was already comfortable with him and his cat – nothing changed except me being gone. Which she did have to get used to, but it wasn’t a major stress for her and she was fine. This time, even though the boyfriend is now the friend I’m leaving her with, she wasn’t living in that apartment anymore, and there is a new cat living there now, so it’s like her whole life changed, I’m not even there, and she has no idea why and is having a hard time coping, especially when it comes to getting along with this new cat, who is very aggressive towards her.

Me with Jasmine the day before I had to say goodbye:

My friend keeps reassuring me that she’ll be fine and he will work on ways to figure it out, and I know he will try, but I’ve been worrying about her a lot on and off for the last 2 weeks. It’s got me thinking about coming back. She’s like family – basically I have a kid that it’s my fault she’s suffering. And I can put it out of my mind and enjoy my time here, but it breaks my heart whenever I think about it.

So that’s what originally got me thinking about changing my plans, and now I’ve been rethinking all the reasons why I came in the first place. Mainly, it was because I love to travel and I wanted to really experience somewhere new and unique. I’ve met a lot of people who are backpacking all around Australia, and I feel like I only just got here and I’m going to stay in one place for a long time. Unlike when I lived in London, it’s not a quick and cheap thing to hop over to other places because Australia is so huge. Why couldn’t I just travel around until I more or less run out of money, and then decide what to do next, whether I want to stay and work or head back to the states and reunite with my kitty cat? I’ve been pondering this and going back and forth on it, especially since I got to Melbourne. I made a pro and con list, but it did not help (they never help me because with tough decisions, the pros and cons are usually even). I’m not really excited about my work prospect of working from home in a small apartment all day and not seeing anyone except maybe roommates, and not getting paid super well for here. But at the same time, I have been working towards living and working here for a long time – would it be a disappointment to go back after 2-3 months?

For now, I’m going to take a break from the stressful room-searching and explore the city for a couple of days, and see what happens, if the universe pushes me in one direction or another.

To conclude this post, here is a photo from my amazing trip to Manly (a suburb of Sydney) on Friday with Maja. We decided it was basically paradise, like everyone’s dream of where they will go when they win the lottery.

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Manly Beach

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