61) December 2016-January 2017. Algester, QLD 4115

So this day was always going to come. That I managed to stay in High Street Thornbury for the whole time I was publishing this blog, all through performing the show adaptation, up to almost Christmas 2016 was in and of itself a miracle. Two and a half years I lived there, the second longest amount of time I’ve spent in any one house!

But it’s happened.

Portrait of the artist with all his shit packed up into three bags

Portrait of the artist with all his shit packed up into three bags

I’ve moved again.

Twice!

However the rule of this blog is one story for every address so let’s not get ahead of ourselves. One at a time.

In June 2016 I went on a holiday to New York. For the fourth time. Since 2005, I’ve been overseas five times—six if you count New Zealand, but I forgot to buy ingredients for Kiwi Dip to bring home and I didn’t even get jet lag so I’m disqualifying the whole trip—and 80% of those times I’ve been to New York because I’ve loved it so much. People used to scoff at me when I said I was going to New York again. “You know there are other countries in the world, right?” Yes but none of them have General Tso’s chicken so cram it.

tso

By far the best thing about America DO NOT @ ME you know in your heart I’m right PS watch the General Tso’s documentary on Netflix

On this fourth trip to New York, after eleven years of coveting the city quietly (*loudly, to anyone who would listen, almost non-stop), something was different. I was tired of coveting quietly (*loudly, to anyone who would listen, almost non-stop). I was tired of wishing and dreaming. After many long discussions with Tracey, a woman I’ve known since my first trip in 2005 and my dearest NY friend, I made the decision: I was going to move there.

I spent the next six months quietly (*loudly, to anyone who would listen, almost non-stop) planning. Researching visas, talking to an immigration lawyer, working multiple extra jobs to raise money (my record was four jobs at once; I was very tired), ruthlessly culling my belongings. By December, I was ready.

My visa, however, was not.

So I did what any self-respecting adult would do when they find themselves in a brief limbo: I moved in with a parent.

And that’s how I, at 36 years of age, lived with my Dad for the very first time.

Thank you, Google Maps for providing a heavenly nimbus for the last house I ever lived at in Australia.

I wrote on another blog how this was a thing that nearly happened when I was 12, but then didn’t. I won’t rehash it here, because I already wrote it and went to therapy about it, but it’s there to read if you need a recap. Plus I don’t want to bog down in the negativity of why I didn’t live with my Dad until I was 36. I want to be positive and focus on how lucky I am! Not everyone gets a do-over 24 years later!

Okay, so it was only for a month, and for the entire time I was there, two giant suitcases sat in the corner of my bedroom containing all my worldly possessions, giving the whole experience a distinctly surreal quality. But still. It counts.

Dad and Fran have been living in the same house since the early 1990s. This house and my Uncle Ken & Aunty Sharon’s house in Capalaba are the only two houses that have been a constant since my early childhood (and even Ken & Sharon demolished their house and built a new one, so technically it’s only the lawn that has been constant). It was comforting but very odd, after a lifetime of new addresses, to go back to a house that has barely changed since I was 10.

Here’s what I learnt: living with a parent at 36 is not much different from living with a parent as a child. I was fed almost constantly, my clothes were always washed and folded and left on my bed, and on weekends I did jobs out in the yard.

Of course, the whole time I was there, a cloud of uncertainty hung over my head. I had no idea whether or not the visa allowing me to move to New York was going to be approved, so I was stressed and anxious the entire time. It took a physical toll on me: I was not sleeping well at night, so I was napping during the day, and sometimes I was so moody I didn’t speak for hours at a time. I guess for Dad and Fran it was like having a teenager in the house.

And then, on January 18, 2017, I got the news: My visa had been approved, and I was moving to New York. So on January 21, Dad and Fran saw off their adult son as he moved halfway across the world.

Christopher, Dad, Fran

Me, my dad, and my dad’s partner of 20-something years, Fran. Getting the two of them into a photo is like trying to get a photo of the Loch Ness Monster, but clearly the emotional weight of an offspring’s emigration eclipsed their preference for maintaining near-mythological status.

All in all, they’d had the kid version of me, the teen version of me, and the adult version of me. We squeezed the whole experience into 32 days!

(I mean, Fran certainly squeezed a lifetime’s worth of ironing into 32 days? You haven’t lived until you’ve put on a pair of ironed underpants. The only thing of mine she didn’t iron was my shoes, and I bet you a dollar she was thinking about it.)

I’m so glad the last thing I did before I left the country was spend Christmas with my mum, sister, brother, brother-in-law and new baby niece, and then spend a month living with my Dad. It gave me a nice closing chapter before I said goodbye to Australia…

…to start a whole new chapter.

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