Home wasn’t a set house, or a single town on a map. It was wherever the people who loved you were, whenever you were together. Not a place, but a moment, and then another, building on each other like bricks to create a solid shelter that you take with you for your entire life, wherever you may go.
I had finally landed in the place that had been living in the back of my mind ever since I first visited 7 years ago. Byron Bay had hardly changed. It still had its hippy, backpacker vibe, albeit with a few extra yuppies.
The long stretch of beach was a haven for surfers and sunbathers and the car park at the end had been transformed into a makeshift campground full of campervans. Swarms of people from all over the world congregated on the grassy bankside, there were buskers playing music, young hippies slack lining, drumming circles and groups of friends hanging out in the sun. The place had a laid-back holiday vibe to it and I felt like I would easily fit in.
I was lucky to have somewhere close in town to stay, which was in easy walking distance to the beach and shops. I spent my first few days organizing bank accounts and doing a first aid course so that I could work as a nanny. My savings were running out and I didn’t have enough to just take it easy, so I put an ad up looking for nanny work, I dropped into a local Reiki clinic and started to plan teaching yoga at the local reserve.
I looked at a few vans to live in because I couldn’t afford to pay $200 AUD a week, which was the average cost to rent a room, I was used to living in a van anyway, but I had mixed feelings around it. All the vans seemed to be full of rust from the salt air and a lot of backpackers would use Byron as their pit stop to flick off their vans to the tourists before heading home so most of them had done high kilometers and they were beat up old bombs!
So I decided to find work first before I invested money into a van incase I had to return to New Zealand.
I had only been here a week and my daughter, who was back in New Zealand, was desperately missing me, which got me questioning everything that I had done to get here.
Arriving felt bittersweet. I had achieved my long-term goal of moving to Byron but the outcome was entirely different from what I had imagined it to be and the long journey getting here had changed me. Sometimes what we think we want is not actually what we want and we don’t find that out until we try.
One week wasn’t enough time to know if Byron was actually where I wanted to be, but the truth is, I realize now family is the most important thing to me and I felt empty without my daughter near.
I had all these grand plans of arriving and feeling at home and making a life and a living through my passions but it was proving more challenging than I had expected. One year living alone in my van and then six months living like a hermit in Nepal made me quite reclusive and I was having to adjust to a completely different environment and way of life.
My best friend, who is like a sister to me, took me out a few nights in a row and I was thrown into a world of alcohol, flashing lights and loud music! Like a bystander watching from the sidelines, I saw overly intoxicated men with inflated egos eyeing up their prey and young pretty girls vying for the attention of the best looking guys. As I watched the scene unfold I suddenly felt so alone. There was no one there that I could have a decent conversation with and I just wanted to go back to my little foam mattress on the floor in my friend’s cubbyhole cum wardrobe.
Thankfully my friend drove me home and I fell asleep thinking I never wanted to go out to a club again! I had left that life behind me in Auckland and I certainly had no desire to go back to it.
I had given myself a four week timeframe to find a job otherwise I would have to go back to New Zealand. All I needed was one day a week to begin with, which would at least pay for my food.
I had arrived with two suitcases and a whole lot of trust and I hoped I wasn’t foolish to have thought that I could survive here and make a living through my passions.
There’s a huge element of trust involved when moving to a new country with no job lined up. I guess I thought if things didn’t flow for me I could leave, but where to next?
I was beginning to miss the familiarity of having a stable home and I was unsure if I wanted to live in a campervan again. Living in a van meant sleeping rough, showering infrequently and eating basic. I guess there’s pro’s and cons with both lifestyle’s and I was having to weigh up my options and decide if I wanted to continue living this nomadic lifestyle. It would be okay if I had a stack of money in the bank. But I didn’t and I needed to be realistic. I was squandering my savings away barely surviving and I desperately needed an income.
I was teetering on the edge of making a commitment and only time will tell what that commitment may be and where I’ll end up.
But for now, I’ll always be a gypsy girl and I will build a home right here, in my heart.