Australia is a lucky country. It is perfect in every way: sunshine, easy money, an ocean away from the world’s problems.
And that’s why I decide to leave.
It all boils down to one thing: I’m alone.
I find myself driving friend after friend to the airport to say goodbye. The first goodbye is manageable, but by the third I’m starting to wonder what the hell is going on.
The people I resonate most deeply with are others in the same boat as me: passionate about coffee and new to the city. And, of course, my brother (but he never had much choice in the matter).
In just three months, these souls quietly slip outside Melbourne, pushed out by expiring visas and grasping job opportunities across the oceans. The same things that helps shelter Australia from the world’s problems also make it difficult for outsiders to settle permanently.
'No big deal, right? Just find new friends’ I hear you saying.
Well, no. It’s not that easy. I wonder sometimes whether I’m just not good at making friends. But then again, it depends on what kind of friends we’re talking about. It’s easy and fun to make the "occasional coffee” friend. But close, dear friends are hard to find as a grown adult. When was the last time you made a great, close friend after the age of 25? It’s a lot easier when you’re in uni, on a graduate programme or backpacking.
And then comes the clincher, a clincher shining brighter than the Southern Cross in the night sky: I can’t stomach the thought of not seeing loved ones back in Europe for another six months.
And with that, I give up on the task of making close friendships all over again and decide to navigate the stars back to Europe.
I don’t know where, I don’t know doing what. The plan is to take a gamble. I offer to help out in Dublin at the biggest coffee competition in the world, where, with any luck, I'll meet someone who knows someone who works with someone who needs someone who might be me (maybe).
That’s it. That’s the plan. All my chips are in on the most flippant “plan” I’ve ever put on the table. And, funnily, I stop hearing that awful question I heard when I first landed in Melbourne, penniless and hungry for work: ‘What will you do?’.
It seems like I’ve convinced myself and everyone that it will all be fine.
Because it will.
There’s is no downside to this wager. What if the Dublin bet doesn’t pay off? I work as a barista in a half-decent cafe somewhere in Europe and acquire skills I previously didn’t have. And then I take a flight to Latin America and explore coffee farms on a motorcycle. (Che Guevara, eat your heart out). And then? I don’t know. Does it matter at this point?
So. I book flights to Europe 48 hours after my final day at work. The amount of effort I sign up for is daunting. In just four weeks I must find someone to take on my lease, get rid of all my stuff and clean the company car for the first time in 12 months.
And, like London before, I surprise myself how quick and easy it is to dismantle a full life. 'Sell it, ship it, chuck it’ becomes my mantra.
I roll out of bed on a cold, rainy Sunday morning four weeks later. I open the front door to let two people take the mattress out of my desolate room in exchange for $90. Hungover and bleary-eyed, I leave the house key under a stone and step onto the damp pavement. Under the faint glow of streetlights, I take a left towards the airport and roll the dice one more time.