65) 2019-2020. Stephen St, Yarraville, AUSTRALIA

The downside of moving to the United States of America on the day Donald Trump was inaugurated as President was…everything.

I’m not being dramatic. It’s mathematical: There is no upside, ergo it’s all a downside.

Everything.

By the time the election was called in his favour, I was already five months into the six-and-a-half month process to move my life to the U.S., so it was too late to turn back.

Nevertheless, it was a lifelong dream, and as I said approximately five thousand times (every time I was well-meaningly asked “I guess you don’t want to move there now?”): I wasn’t going to turn an existential defeat into a personal one. I wasn’t giving up my lifelong dream for anyone.

And besides: did I make it work or did I make it work? I had an incredible time in New York for three years: learning shit at the Upright Citizens Brigade, starting a podcast with my BFF, being a background actor on one of my favourite TV shows (and several I’ve never seen), learning the art of comedy writing at a one-of-a-kind comedy writer’s summer camp, being shortlisted for NBC’s Late Night Writer’s Workshop, GETTING MARRIED? I loved my apartment, I loved the winters, I loved the excitement, I loved the musical theatre, I loved the life.

But the weight of the world still gnawed at me. The cruelty being enacted by the government; inside the borders, outside the borders, and particularly on the borders, weighed us down. The spectacular joke that is the American healthcare system weighed us down. The “invisible” class system that infiltrates every level of American society, particularly in corporate workplaces in New York City, weighed Will down. The things that I had taken for granted in Australia: a standard four weeks annual leave, superannuation, bread that doesn’t have sugar in it, weighed me down. That last one isn’t even a metaphor. The sugary bread—which is cake. It’s JUST CAKE. You are making sandwiches with SLICES OF CAKE—started weighing me down. There’s nowhere better in the world to stress eat than the United States of America. I highly recommend it. But the root cause of the stress eating was no fucking fun.

But this is what I wanted.

Right?

In the weeks leading up to the U.S.’s midterm elections in 2018, Will and I had a heavy conversation that had a very simple premise: What if we just left? We very carefully handed the decision back and forth for weeks. Every time one of us did a heavy sigh, or had a bad night’s sleep, or started clawing at the cakebread, the other would bring up The Question: carefully, like a recently jostled champagne bottle, lest we make the decision too abruptly and lose an eye.

Every time one of us asked The Question, we got a tiny bit closer to an answer. And then, one day, the cork popped: it was decided if things didn’t swing back toward the left in the midterm elections, then it would be panic stations because they may never, so we should plan an escape now and deploy the plan in November if things went pear-shaped.

“Escape”. That was the specific word we used. In hindsight that seems very melodramatic, but at the time it was, at worst, only slightly melodramatic. I’ll be honest, the word felt right. So, we laid out the logistics, the requirements, the pros and the cons, and by the time the elections were upon us, we had our contingency plan.

As it turned out, the midterm elections went surprisingly well. “Escape” was not necessary.

Except.

The morning after the midterm elections, the thought remained in our minds. I can’t remember which of us started the conversation, but I know what was said:

“I…sort of…still want to enact the contingency plan.”
“Me too.”
“Fuck. Okay.”
“Fuck.”
“Let’s go.”
“Fuck.”

And we enacted the plan.

4B

The last time I looked at our apartment door before we left, I took a photo. Did I immediately cry at the photo? Yes, yes I did.

Now, to move a small dog to Australia (or any size dog, but we happen to have a small one) requires about six months of scheduled vet visits. A six month wait put us just about at the time of our lease ending, so we had our time frame built in.

In the middle of that six month wait, I had a potential writing career opportunity that threatened to derail the whole thing. It didn’t pan out obviously, I just want to point out that it wasn’t just a six month waiting stint. It was six months of managing somewhere between two and seven “what if?” scenarios. Nothing was settled, nothing was final, nothing was certain until we were sitting on the plane.

On August 15, 2019 we sat on the plane.

On August 17, 2019 we landed in Melbourne. 

I’m writing this over two and a half years after the fact, so I can say with the benefit of hindsight that we moved into a two bedroom house that was modest in size, bordering on “poky”. But having just come from a 1 bedroom apartment on Manhattan’s 148th St, it felt palatial. Will went almost two whole weeks without stubbing his toe on anything.

Yarraville

You can’t see in this photo, but that front yard is tiled. I don’t know who did it, but I appreciate knowing there’s someone out there who hates mowing even more than I do.

Ten days after we arrived back in Australia, we picked Mattie up from quarantine (a term that, back in 2019, only referred to something you did with dogs when you brought them to Australia), she let out a high-pitched keening noise for 25 straight minutes, we vowed to never put her on a plane ever again, and we started building a new life, again. I reconnected with my old friends, started going back into the office after three years of working remotely (a term that, back in 2019, only referred to something you did in extreme circumstances such as, for example, an employee with a particularly niche set of skills fucking off to America), and Will started adjusting to a new life of savoury bread and no ozone layer.

My chapter of living in another hemisphere ended, and his began.

Christopher Doesn’t Live Here Anymore: The Stories

My name is Christopher and I have moved house 64 times. In this blog I tell a story from every single address. I started in July 2014, and posted the most recent story in February 2018. Here are all the stories, in order!

1. Elliot Street – Christopher’s Bucket Mouth
2. Tirroan Road – Christopher’s Horses
3. Ruby Street – Christopher’s Tricycle
4. Erap Street – Christopher’s Attempted Kidnapping
5. Marion Street – Christopher’s Burglars
6. Miles Street – Christopher’s Escape #1
7. Mulgrave Road – Christopher’s Evil Teacher
8. Edmonton – Christopher’s Unit of Measurement
9. Weipa – Christopher’s Wet Feet
10. Seisia Road – Christopher’s Abandonment Issues
11. Masig Island – Christopher’s Gonna Need a Bigger Boat
12. Thursday Island – Christopher’s Strange Bedfellow
13. Miles Street – Christopher’s Memory Lapse
14. West Street – Christopher’s Electrocution
15A. Abel Smith Parade #1 – Christopher’s Barbra Streisand Feud
15B. Abel Smith Parade #2 – Christopher’s Call to the Police
16. Marlin Way – Christopher’s Popularity with Girls
17. Groper Street – Christopher’s First Fist Fight
18. Osborne Court – Christopher’s Questioned Masculinity
19. Hibiscus Street – Christopher’s Police Academy Obsession
20. Hart Court – Christopher’s Gonna Need a Smaller Boat
21. Hibiscus Street – Christopher’s Disney Re-enactments
22. Leitch Street – Christopher’s Religious Neighbours
23. Proston-Boondooma Road – Christopher’s Survey
24. Short Street – Christopher’s Least Favourite Town
25. Aralia Street – Christopher’s High School
26. Belyando Avenue #1 – Christopher’s Nightmare House #1
27. Grout Street – Christopher’s Terrible Christmas
28. Belyando Avenue #2 – Christopher’s Nightmare House #2: The Snakening
29. Post Office Road – Christopher’s Nightmare House #3: The Misleadening
30. William Street – Christopher’s Escape #2
31. Pennycuick Street – Christopher’s Friends
32. Smith Street – Christopher’s Mum Fights Back
33. Turner Road – Christopher’s First Kiss
34. Cavell Street – Christopher’s Dirty Jock Water
35. Canberra Street – Christoper’s Idyll
36. Weldon Street – Christopher’s Mole
37. Ainsworth Street – Christopher’s Landlord
38. Buxton Street – Christopher’s Almost Stepfather
39. Millsom Street – Christopher’s Felafel in His Hand
40. Upper Lancaster Road – Christopher’s Mansion
41. Liaw Close – Christopher’s Thespianism
42. Handford Road – Christopher’s Second Worst Job
43. Petrie Terrace – Christopher’s Inflatable Armchair
44. Handford Road – Christopher’s Bowling Mother
45. Amelia Street – Christopher’s Radio Career Starts
46. Chalfont Street – Christopher’s Sexuality
47. Ironwood Street – Christopher’s Radio Career Escalates
48. Simpsons Road – Christopher’s Arachnophobia Escalates
49. Upper Lancaster Road – Christopher’s Handsome Coworker
50. Guildford Street – Christopher’s Own Apartment
51. Challis Street – Christopher’s Radio Career Explodes
52. Barwon Street – Christopher’s Teeth Fall Out
53. Onkaparinga Crescent – Christopher’s Radio Career Ends
54. Yuroka Close – Christopher’s Grand Sydney Migration
55. Onkaparinga Crescent – Christopher’s Humble Sydney Escape
56. Brunswick Road – Christopher’s Grand Melbourne Migration
57. Pottery Court – Christopher’s Teeth Go Back In
58. Barkly Street – Christopher’s Happily Ever After
59. Smith Street – Christopher’s Sadly Ever After
60. High Street – Christopher’s Red Room 
61. Konanda Street – Christopher’s Nest Return
62. Gilbert Avenue – Christopher’s Emigration
63. West 136th Street – Christopher’s NYC Rite of Passage
64. West 148th Street – Christopher’s Wedding
65. Stephen Street – Christopher’s Demigration