I’ve moved cities quite a few times in my life so I’ve had a fair bit of practice at ‘starting over’. My latest move, however, has been back to Brisbane – a city I have lived in before but not for nearly a decade.
It’s like starting over, but not from scratch. It feels new, but not completely. Parts are familiar, but lots has changed.
The 22 year old version of me that left Brisbane is not the same as the (nearly) 32 year old me that’s returned. And whilst I was changing elsewhere, the city was naturally undergoing some changes of her own.
I can see the ghost of my former self on every street corner. My memories interwoven through the fabric of the city. The store I worked in once, my bestie’s old house, the supermarket with the best study snacks, the park I used to meet a friend in for walks, the street I learned to reverse park on. They’re all still here, although the characters around them have changed. I’ve changed. It’s hard to equate the version of me that exists now with the version of me that existed then.
For a start, I don’t remember any street names. Other than the street I lived on, I’m basically drawing a blank on all the others. Information that would once have been second nature to me has just gotten lost along the way. Replaced with the names of streets in foreign lands. When I hear or see them again it’s a vague “oh yeah” moment, but before that I wouldn’t be able to recall them if you paid me.
And it’s not just street names I’m struggling to recall, it’s people’s names too. I can’t leave the house without seeing someone from high school, or a face I vaguely recognise from the distant past. Part of my daily cardio routine is wracking my brain, trying to claw back a name from the recesses of my memory. I have spent a long time living places where I didn’t have much history, and that came with a certain anonymity. That invisibility cloak has been ripped off again.
And where’s cool to hang out now? No idea. The places that were the hot spots then have either shut down, or are no longer hot at all.
The social landscape is also vastly different. So many friends have moved away themselves over the years, or we just lost touch along the way. I’ve come back to a very sparse smattering of pals. Which is, arguably, still better than no pals at all.
Oh, there’s also all the new spouses and babies. Amazingly, time didn’t stand still here whilst I was off frolicking elsewhere for the best part of ten years. 95% of peeps are now sporting wedding bands and/or 2 to 3 children. Which is all very bizarre considering I left them doing tequila shots and dancing on tables. Not that I have any interest in either of those two activities these days, but it’s a startling reminder that the years have passed. If they’ve aged, does that mean I have too?!
I don’t feel that I belong here yet. The city is hosting me, but not quite homing me. The place I once held is no longer available, I didn’t expect it to be. Part of the fun – and also the challenge – is carving out a new place and creating a new version of life in old surroundings.
Despite all the changes, there is great comfort in the familiar – even if it does all feel unfamiliar at the same time.
- READ MORE: A One Way Ticket to Australia
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