I moved to Melbourne when I was 21, independent, headstrong and, for want of a better term, bat shit crazy. I was minus a job, a boyfriend, friends and a home. I’d love to declare that, of course, everything good that came my way was deserved, when really I have the universe, good luck and my ability to wing it to thank for the past three and a half years. In retrospect, I experienced plenty of touch-and- go (stay-or-go?) moments. These included surviving the absence of family, horrific first dates, my first job and the exhausting dance of talking about your home town as if it’s small, backward and cold, when really it’s small, relatively progressive and only cold half the time. One poignant memory from my first six months in Melbourne was the look on my flatmate’s face as she walked into our apartment and saw me on the couch in a grey jumper and track pants (reoccurring them), with a pizza box on my lap and not a scrap of make-up on my face. I was crying while watching the royal wedding, mechanically eating piece after piece of pizza and repeating ‘she’s so beautiful’ over and over. But for the hardships, I soon discovered what I had lost in moving was balanced by what I gained. My small world, that comprised of myself and the two girls I moved with, swelled to include friends, workmates and a DBB, dreamboat boyfriend. I filled what was the loneliest of worlds with a vast amount of beautiful, spirited and incredible people. NB: The majority were Australians, including DBB. WHO WOULD HAVE THOUGHT! Aside from the incredible food (Chin Chin, Jimmy Grants, I’m looking at you!), shopping and Melbourne’s ‘cool factor’, my carefully constructed world full of amazing people is what I’ll miss the most when I leave. To reduce the amount of nausea that you are experiencing reading about a nostalgic twenty-four year old, I’ll quit whining about FOMO and the pain of gaining and losing friends and move right along . . .
The trip before the move: The pre-trip
I planned a three-week holiday with my super-babe friend, Sally. Her boyfriend is one of Hugh’s teammates. This was to be my first-ever more than five hour plane trip holiday and I was fist pumping with excitement (just joking, but not really). Sally and I got ‘all Beyoncé’ one day and decided that we don’t need-no-man (to travel with) and booked flights for a European adventure; Insert another Destiny’s Child Independent Women lyric here. We planned three weeks, London, Paris, Croatia featuring. Sail Croatia and Barcelona. Leaving the lads behind is part and parcel of dating a rugby player. It’s difficult when the season coincides with the months of the year when you desperately need a holiday — winter! Last year, I booked a holiday for Hugh and I to Port Douglas as Bali was out of the question due to the risk of Bali belly etc. Day before we were meant to fly out, he dislocated his shoulder playing in Brisbane, so I spent the week in rainy Melbourne, playing nurse instead of sunning myself on the beach. Ironically, just as I resigned myself to the fact that Hugh and I would be travelling backpacker style after his footy career and in our 30s, he received an offer from a European rugby club. And not just any club either, a French rugby club, location Paris. I didn’t even know there were rugby clubs in Paris! I had a small heart attack and started visualizing myself sauntering around the city, speaking beautiful French to beautiful French people. This was impressive due to the fact that a) I’ve never been to Paris, and B) I don’t speak a word of French. However, the daydream was magical all the same (I have a very active imagination). It was a never-in-your-wildest-dreams opportunity, so it made sense that he . . . turned it down! ‘SACRE BLEU’, I hear you exclaim! When it comes to Hugh’s career, I play the roles of support crew, backup dancer and psychologist. They are the same roles he plays when it comes to my career. I let him know that, either way, I was happy. I’d chosen Melbourne three years ago, and I would be more than happy to stay, just as I would pack my life up to move with him (to Paris! I know, what a bloody chore!). He had his own reasons for turning it down. However, (oh hi honesty), my gut instinct was that it was the right time for us go. I have been working for the past three years in advertising. I started in a creative agency and moved publisher side into an advertising sales role. I have learnt so much, but have, in recent times, felt ready to explore the rest of the world. The common move for rugby players is to go to Europe or Japan at the end of their career, after they’ve exhausted themselves from the rigours of the Super Rugby competition. I definitely saw the opportunity in Hugh and me going when we were free from responsibilities and could really embrace every new experience that came our way. For Hugh, choosing to go at a relatively young age was something he wasn’t so sure about, and it took a long time for him to make a decision. On a rainy evening, on the way to a friend’s farewell party in Fitzroy, with no warning whatsoever, he told me he had changed his mind. ‘Let’s go to Paris’. He regretted turning down the contract and decided that an adventure on the other side of the world was what he wanted deep down. Insert paperwork, announcements, resignations and French lessons! I am trying to research as best I can. I’m halfway through ‘Almost French’, a book by a Sydney journalist who moved to Paris; I know which arrondissements I want to live in and we have booked our visa appointment. I’ve even researched as much as I can about Hugh’s rugby club. I found out three key facts: 1) The club releases a calendar of partially clad Greek god-looking players each year, google it. 2) Their colour is pink. 3) They have a large and passionate fan base of over 100,000 followers on Facebook, something that may take some getting used too. So far, I have no knowledge about the players or partners. I have had the most amazing support from the Melbourne partners, so I’m crossing my fingers that the new Partners are just as strong minded, intelligent and sassy. I was counting on a few Aussies and Kiwis, but the team is made up mostly of French players with some Italian, South African and English players thrown in. The only real piece of info I have to work with is something that slipped out of Hugh’s mouth; “apparently, the captain’s wife was Miss Italy or Miss World or something”. So yeah; no pressure. Please, lovely blog-friend, check in every once in a while just to make sure I haven’t turned into a blimp from all the pastry and have at least managed to make one friend. You will be privy to the highs and lows as we place our fate and future in the hands of the croissant-eating, baguette-wielding, super-chic Parisians!