Recently, I’ve been giving some thought to the concept of “limerence.” Even if most of us have never heard the term, we know the feeling: that all-encompassing, giddy, preoccupation of falling in love. I’ve discovered that my experience of moving to Australia parallels this stage of many new relationships. For some people, this stage lasts for months, even years, and for others it changes as fast as the weather in Melbourne. I remember during the first month I was here, it had been beautiful and sunny as I went into a restaurant to meet some new friends. Thirty minutes later, it was raining and hailing so badly, the alley outside looked like a river and the waiters were frantically rushing to stop the water leaking into the (second floor!) of the restaurant. At the time, this event felt like adventure, and it served as a bonding moment for my dining companions and me: we survived something together!
But as the months of (southern hemisphere) winter have passed, I’ve become less enamored with Australia. Not to say I don’t still love it – I do – but I’ve seen it without its makeup and have ridden the waves of its mood swings. In the beginning, it was love at first sight. Australia is a hottie, as countries go. I saw separation of church and state, holistic sex ed standards for schools, and ridiculously friendly people. I ignored the xenophobia, how expensive everything is, and Melbourne’s temperamental weather. Last week, Australia had an election in which nearly half the country voted for the ultra-conservative Tony Abbott, who is famous for his “moral” disapproval of the HPV vaccine and his traditional beliefs about sex before marriage. It was like meeting the nightmare mother-in-law.
Now I have to look at my feelings and decide if Australia and I are meant to be. Are we destined to just be friends with benefits (i.e. getting my degree, then going back to the States) or do I just need to accept the good with the bad and stick it out for the long haul? Only time will tell. In the meantime, much like a romantic relationship, I’m enjoying what I’m uncovering about myself, and what I truly want out of life.
Photos by Kate McCombs