Many weeks of sanding, puttying and painting had left us both exhausted which is probably why he actually agreed to come out with me. He had been putting even more hours into the renovation than I had as he was able to take time off work to get it done. However, once we got out, we had barely spoken to or seen each other after the revelation of exactly what had happened while I was in Las Vegas.

After hours in separate groups, talking to everyone else rather than each other, we found ourselves alone on the balcony of the nightclub. I was the first to break the silence-

“I don’t want to own a house anymore.”

He looked at me at me slowly and nodded. We both understood what I meant.

****

It was in Laos years before this fated conversation that saw the beginning of the end of my relationship, that the feeling that no one really knew me first hit me. I was listening to my partner of four years at that point, telling yet another long winded story that I had heard at least a thousand times and I looked around at the random group of people we had met and befriended. I wondered if any of them felt like that had gotten to know me and who I was or was I just known as his girlfriend. This opened up to the question did anyone from home other than my very close family and friends know me as a separate entity, did I even know myself in that way? Who was I without this relationship?

****

We had been living in London for the year previous to our time in South East Asia and had travelled to many countries together. I was thankful to have him in London, I suffered from homesickness for the first six months and without his encouragement I would most likely have returned home very prematurely.

Living in London had been a dream of mine since I had found out as a child that it could be done. There was a traveller inside me who longed to get out of her small home town and explore the world. Each country was experienced together, we went together to see our favourite bands and mostly had all of the same friends. It was always us; we were a unit.

Before moving to London, we purchased a house in the town we grew up in. This was a compromise, he wanted a house, I wanted to travel. The idea of being a young home owner made me very uncomfortable but I was easily persuaded, it was the done thing and it ensured I was setting myself and future family up for a comfortable life. Owning the house meant not being able to stay in London or to continue to travel for any longer but I told myself this was fine, there would be other trips in the future.

****

Upon returning to Australia and to our house, we threw ourselves into renovations. Weekends were given to knocking down walls, shopping for paint colours and building flat packs. I started a new job as a travel agent which I tried to convince myself would ease my wanderlust and I could live vicariously through my clients. It ended up being long, stressful days after which I would have to come home, organise some form of dinner and then get into helping my partner with sanding or painting or building.

In November of that year I went to Las Vegas with my sister and friend, my first ever overseas holiday without my partner and an incredible break from the recent stress I had been under. I began to feel freedom and relaxation and began to realise how incredibly unhappy I was in my real life. Then the unthinkable and very unexpected happened; I fell in love. He was Californian but living in Las Vegas for financial reasons, he was attractive, fun and spontaneous. He took me to a bon fire with his friends and showed me Vegas as locals saw it. In four short days he inadvertently showed me all that was lacking in my actual relationship and represented the life I longed for.

My return to Australia was reluctant and I vowed to get back to America as soon as I could but I was faced with returning back to renovations and a conversation on my first night home of just how bad our finances were looking. Life went back to normal much too fast, the routine of selling dream holidays to people and then working into the night on the house continued. I had changed though; the restlessness I had quelled for years was rising at an alarming rate. I needed out, I needed the world, my wandering soul needed to break out.

****

The catalyst came while we were getting ready for what would be our last night out as a couple, he was sitting on the couch while I got dressed working on the laptop when a message from my American friend came through. A tense conversation followed in which the details of my infidelity were exposed and my desires to escape were laid out. This is why, by the time we met up with our friends, neither of us wanted to be near the other. After drinking too much, we had the discussion on the balcony, two days later he went to South America, one month after that he came home to a half packed up house with only his belongings remaining. On Christmas Eve of our sixth year together, I left with my sister in her car and would never live in Rockhampton again.

****

My first months alone were the hardest of my life, my sister and I struggled financially but I also struggled mentally. I had been in long term relationships for the past eleven years and I had never been faced with the reality of being single. Slowly, I started my life over; I started working in a much less stressful job for the same company I was a travel agent with and starting making friends. These were people who knew me only as me, this was a job I had obtained as just me and although I struggled with the end of my relationship at times, I began to enjoy being me and started to understand who I was.

America was still the dream, the plan was to be there for six months but maybe longer if I could find an avenue to obtain a visa, the relationship with the American had come to its inevitable end but I was still California Dreaming. My best friend and I planned our trip to America but due to the amount of time I wanted to be away, we couldn’t leave for almost a year. We booked our flights and waited for the departure date but in the meantime I continued to live my life.

I began to really love my life, I had never enjoyed a job as much as I had enjoyed this one and I was enjoying exploring Brisbane so by the time my departure to America came, I had decided to only stay for three months. Three months turned into two months as I ran out of money but my return home was not reluctant. It dawned on me as I landed back into Brisbane, for the first time I was excited to go back to real life, I had finally found my home.

****

Upon returning to Australia, I decided it was time throw myself into the frightening world of dating, I had done some internet dating during my two years of being single but nothing serious. I had never been on a proper date with a virtual stranger but I met a man online that I got on with as well as you could online and decided to meet him. We met in a pub down the road from my house and then went on a second date and a third and six months later he asked me to be his girlfriend.

It’s true when they say life can come full circle, my once restless heart has now found its place and I have found a home without having to trace the corners of the world. After taking some time to get to know myself, I now have an incredible partner who I can’t wait to do all of the things I used to be terrified of and try to run away from, with.  I cannot wait to become his wife, the mother of his children and to buy a house with him and make it a home.

THE END