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On a spanner in the works (aka Brexit)

What. The actual. F*cking. F*ck. 

They…they voted to leave the EU?  But why would they do that? WHY? What about all my planning? What about this amazing new life I was supposed to be starting? Is it all over already?!

I see rebranding in this cafe's future
 But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s go back to when my idea of moving to London was unblemished by a referendum vote and the words ‘I’ve made a huge mistake’ weren’t playing on a constant loop inside my brain. Because actually, once you’ve decided to change your life (with or without the aid of young wizards) everything else falls into place with such ease, you tend to wonder why you didn’t change your life sooner.

Yes the planning itself was easy. The emotional cost of some of the life-changing steps, though, was high, like handing in my notice for the job I thought I'd still have well into my eighties. And not because the company had me chained to the desk, but because I loved the people I worked with, I loved the industry that had been my home for over fourteen years and I couldn't imagine a work day that didn't involve gossiping in the kitchen or competing for the free fruit that arrived every Tuesday and Thursday morning. (I still can’t talk about the high discount on books I’ve given up so I’m not going to.) Nevertheless, on a Tuesday afternoon in May, I handed in my notice and my dream of living in London was one step closer.


Next on the list of emotional costs? My house. My lovely, perfect, hard won house. Like most, I’ve lived in some right shit holes over the years. I’ve had neighbours that argue so loudly the walls shake and then have even louder makeup sex. I’ve lived in a flat that had so many stairs I gave up buying anything heavy, like food, because I couldn’t be arsed lugging shopping bags up the endless flights. These inconveniences all seemed worth it, though, when I found Wahroonga, a heritage-listed house in one of Melbourne’s best suburbs and whose name is taken from the Aboriginal word meaning ‘our home’. It was my home for more than two blissful years and the thought of others living in it made my stomach churn. Still, if my London plan was to work, I needed tenants to take care of my mortgage.

The first inspection was one of the odder moments of my life. I decided to stay, with the real estate agent offering to introduce me as the outgoing tenant rather than the owner. As prospective tenant after prospective tenant walked through my house, muttering about the inferiority of my furniture layout and the smallness of my shower (my shower is NOT small and the shower head easily adjustable!) I nearly gave up on the whole thing. The weirdness of the exercise was further compounded when I spotted a guy from my morning tram commute. We had a moment of recognition and I couldn’t help thinking, now he knows where I live, and I know he and his very pregnant wife are looking for a rental. Just. So. Odd. I was more than a little relieved when the fifteen minutes of having my life on display to total strangers was over. (I just know they were judging my fridge collection and noting I had one too many pictures of Benedict Cumberbatch but probably appreciated the topless photo of Riggins from ‘Friday Night Lights.')

The next day, I had tenants signed up and I had both their moving in date and my moving out date. I did NOT take this well. For the next week or so, I cancelled all plans and enjoyed quality time with Wahroonga. I knew that once I got to London, all thoughts of having my own place would be a misty dream so I took advantage of what I had, while I still had it. 

And then came my last day at work. A day that coincided with the EU referendum results. Shitting, stupid, Brexit. Let me briefly mention that my plan to move to London very much hinged on my Greek passport which allows me to work and live in the EU (which, for the time being, includes the UK) without needing a visa.

Right, so there I am, already fairly emotional about saying goodbye to a job and friends I’ve had for more than seven years, when the Brits go and announce that, actually, they don’t particularly want me and my EU-ness AT.ALL. (Well, more than seventeen million of them don’t want my EU-ness. More than sixteen million are still pretty okay with my EU-ness.) Like most the world, I was shocked. There wasn’t enough gin in the world to make me un-shocked by this news. In exactly one month, I’d be touching down in what now amounted to hostile territory. And after finally being okay with everything I was giving up - my job, my family, my friends, my house, the 96 tram, Tim Tams, Lucas’ Pawpaw Ointment, sunshine -  would I be back in Melbourne after just two years? Would I have accomplished everything I wanted to in just to years? (Two years seemed to be the agreed upon timeframe for when the UK would finally leave the EU.)

There was some consolation in the fact I could still live in any other part of the EU (hello Paris and/or Dublin!), but still. It was London I had my sights on, and London I was making all my plans for. So, despite their hostility, I took a note from the Brits themselves and kept calm and soldiered on. I battered away the 'I've made a huge mistake' loop, continued with my plans and boarded my plane. (I still can't talk about the farewells I made to my parents, family and friends so I'm got going to.)

If I do have to reassess my situation in two years, you can bet on Wahroonga that I would have made every day in London count. Like to know how? Until next time!


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