My bubble

I need to start this by acknowledging that there are bigger, scarier, vastly more important things going on in the world than what I’m going to write about here. So much has already been said by people a lot smarter and more experienced than me. When it comes to matters of racial tension, civil unrest, of our planet, of our future, I implore others like me, other white people living on stolen lands, living in (and benefiting from) consumer-driven, capitalist societies: shut up, listen, and act. Listen to black voices, indigenous voices, disabled voices, minority voices. Listen to scientists. Listen to people smarter than you. Listen to people with more life experience than you. Listen to people who are just trying to do what’s right. Listen to data. JUST LISTEN.

Take care of yourself, and do what you need to do to find moments of happiness and peace in your daily life, and forgive yourself when you make mistakes – but listen, and wherever you can, act. Be ready to be wrong, and be ready to change. Your ego doesn’t matter.

Speaking of ego, though, this blog post is about me. Because this corner of the internet is my corner, and this is how I share, how I try and make myself known, how I try and commit things to record. It’s small. In the scheme of things, it’s nothing. But it’s mine.

And it’s been a while since I’ve posted.

I’ve said it before, but before we moved back to Australia at the end of January, our plan was fairly simple: find (and possibly buy) a home in or around Melbourne. The further out, the better, but we had employability in mind, so we were ready to forgo our desire to live in a more rural setting in order to make sure we could commute if needed. We planned to put down roots, however small – reconnect with family and friends and focus on domestic travel for a while.

We were (and still are) ready to stay here, even though the Pacific Northwest still calls for me and dominates my dreams. But I’m okay with going back later. I’ll know when the time is right. There are people here, now, that we love. We want to make the most of that.

Right as we started looking for rental properties, COVID hit. So we found a rental property on Phillip Island, and bunkered down. I was scared about committing to live so far out of Melbourne – what would happen when COVID passed, and I found myself looking for work? Shouldn’t we be closer? What kind of opportunities would we miss out on, even though we’re genuinely happier living regionally?

But – in a way I still can’t quite believe – things worked out. I managed to secure a remote contract working for one of Australia’s leading technology companies, doing the kind of work I wanted to do but never expected to find outside of Silicon Valley, surrounded and supported by incredible, like-minded people. The company announced plans to allow everyone to work remotely forever, and then in September, my contract became permanent.

Jesse also secured a remote job, and suddenly our house hunting options opened right up – we started looking all over the state. We were no longer confined to living a commutable distance from Melbourne; our only concern now was being within a 3–4 hour drive from family and friends.

Meanwhile, after feeling like Rigby could use a friend, we decided to add another dog to our family. We found a sweet foster dog, which quickly became an adoption. Jema (who we renamed Peaches) had anxiety issues, and was reactive to other dogs – except for Rigby (at first). For a couple of months, we thought we’d found our new family member. As hard as it was to manage her on walks, we worked diligently on training, and we enjoyed having a cuddly animal in our family. But as she became more confident, she also became more dominant. Rigby began to suffer – he retreated and grew distant. Whenever he’d go and stay with my parents for a break, Peaches was happier and more relaxed. Rigby was happier, too.

Heartbroken, we realized that living together wasn’t good for either of them.

After many tearful conversations, consultation with a dog behav dropping her off, we passed out on the couch for hours. I didn’t cry until a couple of days later. Falling in love with her and then letting her go cracked my heart wide open, but it was the right thing for both dogs. And now, both dogs are thriving.

The right decision isn’t always the easy one.

Emotionally, that week was a doozy. Within days of rehoming Peaches, we found out that the offer we’d made on a dream property was accepted. For days, we fumbled through life in a state of shock. We came to terms with the fact that we’d just secured a 3 acre property with a beautiful house, less than 2 hours from Melbourne. We hit the jackpot.

We’re making plans for hosting. Our goal is to create a comfortable space for people we love to come and relax, get away from the city, and get fed by us. With lockdowns, having anyone visit us seems so far away right now. But we’re letting ourselves be excited to share our future home with the people we love.

To celebrate anything in 2020 feels almost wrong, and yet we’re employed, in love, and buying our first home. Lockdowns have made everyone coiled, tense, anxious – including us. We’re blessed to have my parents on the island, and to be able to see them as part of our bubble, but missing everyone else is taking its toll. I can’t even begin to fathom how it feels to be in Melbourne, where the rules are even stricter right now.

I’m terrified and excited of what the emotional release is going to look like. I’m scared of opening up too soon, of relaxing the rules too quickly. I’m hoping for a slow, steady progression to a new normal.

I miss being on the dancefloor at sunset at music festivals, sweaty and tired, offering my water bottle to friends, sharing a blunt with strangers, howling at the sunset. I don’t know if we’ll ever get back to that, or if we do, how long it’ll take. I’m okay with taking it slow. But I miss my people.

I expressed to my therapist that I feel guilty complaining about COVID when I have so much to be thankful for. He replied that this affects everyone, regardless of their circumstances. No one is going to emerge the same person they were before, and we all need to be okay with that. We’ll all come out of this with varying levels of anxiety and trauma, and denying it because I happen to be objectively lucky is unwise at best, and dangerous at worst.

I won’t be the same. The world won’t be the same. And the world already is a fucked up, terrifying, and dangerous place. What it becomes is still up to us, and that scares and excites me in equal measure.

I’m lucky. I’m also afraid, emotional, exhausted, and learning to surrender. I’m trying to stay healthy and celebrate the things that are still worth celebrating. I don’t really know if there’s a way to come out of this unscathed, but I’m trying every day, and I’ll keep on trying.