“Your account will be cancelled, you will no longer be connected to the service and in 6-12 months’ time we will reissue your number to another customer”
It was that recited statement from an offshore call representative that really got under my skin. I hadn’t prepared myself for the barrage of emotions that would come to light from a call to my phone company. My stomach dropped and I felt sick, in part due to the heavy cancellation fee (those phone companies ain’t loyal), but mostly I felt this way due to the nonchalant yet final way that I was disconnected from my sole communication channel in Australia. To think that someone else will be issued with my number and take possession of the random series of digits that connected me to a new lifeline of friends and support in Melbourne made me feel insignificant and erased.
I remember signing my first-ever phone plan at the Southlands Shopping Centre, upon arriving in Melbourne. I gladly signed my unemployed life away to a 24-month plan in exchange for a shiny new iPhone. I had to get creative in providing the company with enough details for the contract; at that stage, I was homeless and unemployed with a hefty student loan in New Zealand. The number I was issued became a part of my identity. So many hilarious stories and memories are now entwined with text messages and phone calls sent and received over these past three and a half years. My contacts list is full of Australian numbers, those of friends and wonderful people who I never would have met had I stayed in New Zealand. They remain a symbol of what I have gained by moving.
This year has been a slog. At times, I have felt as though we were moving in slow motion, and now it’s as if I’m living in a state of fast forward. In my workplace, and the workplaces of most of my friends, when you resign you give 4-6 weeks’ notice. This gives an appropriate time to tie up loose ends, say goodbye to colleagues and clients and attend a few leaving parties, all before emptying your desk, removing the various quotes calendars and photos from your walls and skipping out of the office. However, this formula doesn’t apply to H’s work. He resigned months before his last official day. Although he was emotionally and mentally finishing up, there were no fixed plans for dates to move out of our apartment or flights booked for Paris. We were asked countless times by our friends and family what our plans were, where would we live? It became a running joke between H and me as to who would field the questions and reply with the rehearsed replies: “We don’t know. We aren’t sure. It depends”.
Trust me, it was as frustrating for us as it was for them! There were moments where I felt exasperated by the lack of control we had over the move, and I wanted to take it out on H. But, as always, there were complex factors at play involving more than one buisness, and I had to learn to sit patiently on my hands and ‘go with the flow’. As this year was the first year the new NRC competition was coming in, we weren’t sure whether H would be required to play, so when he was finally released after months of waiting, our move took on a snowball effect in both momentum and scale!
While I was away in Europe, sipping mojitos, sunbathing and shopping like a madwoman, H packed our apartment, sorted all of our paperwork and moved our possessions to his family home in Newport, Sydney. We had booked a joint visa appointment for two days after my return to Australia, however while I was away, H’s appointment was moved to four days prior, as his new club were keen to have him training in Paris. There were a few strained phone calls and one ‘mayday’ email from H while I was having the time of my life overseas, but somehow we managed to sort everything out. I apply the term ‘we’ very loosely here, as the reality was that H did everything for us. Not only did he pack and move out of our apartment in Melbourne, he also sold both of our cars and gathered all required documentation for our move. As I am from New Zealand, this involved more admin; he had to source a police check from New Zealand and the appropriate birth certificate. In short, he was a true champion, and yes I am well aware of how lucky I am
When I arrived back in the country, we had exactly seven days together to regroup, attend my visa appointment, watch the Lion King, bid farewell to friends, pack (again) and go our separate ways. Thankfully, we have been based at H’s parents’ place in the Northern Beaches, housesitting while they are away. The area is incredibly relaxing, even in the depths of winter. We visited Palm Beach on a sunny afternoon, and I was timekeeper while H ran hill sprints. There’s something about crashing waves that mesmerize and relax me, and this time in Newport has been hectic and peaceful all at the same time.
Hugh left last night on a one-way flight to Paris while I wait to pick up my passport with French visa on Tuesday. Then, I fly to Christchurch for a week with my family before it’s time for me to embark on my own one-way flight to France. After my three week holiday that I booked ten months before my departure it was such a bizarre experience booking our flights to Paris weeks, or days in H’s case before we were due to fly! If you’ve attempted to do the maths, you’ll realise that I will have indeed completed three long-haul flights in four weeks when I arrive. As my dad would say, “character building!
Thankfully, H’s new club have already provided a lot of support for his transition. It’s so reassuring to know that he has someone meeting him at the airport, a hotel organised, someone to take him to set up a bank account and phone and a real estate agent on the lookout for apartments. We both feel incredibly lucky to have manpower in Paris to ease some of the pressure, and I feel so much better knowing that H is in safe hands.
I have a few days to get myself sorted. My brain is confused as to what time zone and season it should be adjusting to, but I have faith it will all work out.
Although there are huge disparities in the move to France compared to my move to Melbourne, I have managed to discover, by chance, a common thread. I will be departing for Paris in the same way I left for Melbourne, via Christchurch’s international terminal. I will travel home to set off again.