Leaving Australia

“I’m sorry, love,” my immigration case officer said to me. “You must be devastated…Are you sure?”
Well, do you know your options then? …. You’ll have 28 days to leave the country.”

28 days.

I have had my world turned up on its head three times in my life.

The first time was when I had to cut my mom out of my life and keep on going without her there in my corner. The second time was when my first relationship and love ended, and the life I knew in Australia was gone overnight. The third time was when I was given 28 days to leave a country that I called home for the past two years before being deported.

Throughout the past few months, I knew at at some point in time, I’d have to face the reality of saying good bye to Australia. To catch certain people up to speed, I had applied for a de facto partner visa with my ex back in 2012, which meant that he acted as my sponsor to keep me in Australia. Breaking up means leaving Australia.

Though I tried endlessly to look for sponsorship opportunities, it seems that finding a job as a journalist in Australia was hard enough, let alone sponsorship.

I had not been back in the country for one week before immigration opened up our visa application. “It’s really a very good application,” my case officer said to me. It sounded like she was smiling.

I banged my head against the wall. Time felt like it stood still, and I just went blank. The tears swelled up like the raging sea. “Thanks,” I said through closed teeth.

It was ironic, really. On paper, we seemed perfect. What was it we had to prove? That our relationship was “genuine and continuing”.

I will be honest. I was this close to doing the wrong thing – this close to doing something illegal. All great writers have done stupid things before, right? That’s what gives them stories to tell. If I can just buy myself a few more months – well, I technically already did with the couple thousand and then some I spent on this partner visa application – then I could figure things out.

But I couldn’t do it. Though it would not be on my own terms, I could either inform immigration of my break up and leave Australia or run the risk and live under the stress of possibly being deported one day.

I took a few days to process everything and anything, discuss the situation and see that it was truly impossible before finding myself at a dead end.

I saw a lawyer this morning so that I wouldn’t say something to get myself inadvertently deported, and I made the call today.

“Oh, right. Alexandra. Hi love. How are you?” Again, it sounded like she was smiling through the phone. Having a nice case officer made this so much harder. I’ve heard they can be so mean.

My voice cracked. “I have some bad news. It seems that my relationship has officially broken down beyond repair. I’m really sorry.”

“I’m sorry, love. You must be devastated..Are you sure? Is this really sudden, or has it been going on for a while?”

“Yeah, I am sure,” I said. Tears. Trying to maintain a steady voice that rises above a whisper. “It’s been going on for a while, and I guess I just stayed hopeful things would change. But yeah, it just seems the visa isn’t something that’s right to go through with anymore.”

“Okay. Well, do you know your options then? If you want us to make a decision on your application as it stands without you in a relationship – well , I don’t think you want it to be rejected. You don’t want that. If you want to withdraw it, you’ll have 28 days to leave the country.”

I’ll be honest, and I think I have talked about this before. A few months back, I hit a rock bottom place and couldn’t come to terms with accepting Australia as home. The idea of forever made me felt like the walls were closing in – was I making the right choice? And though I admittedly do feel homesick at time and miss my family and friends, it was more pangs of guilt than anything that made me feel like I have to eventually live back in New York. I didn’t know that I actually wanted to live there.

I’m confused about how I feel right now. One minute I cry, then next minute I trust it’s time to go. When I went home for Christmas, I wasn’t really 100 percent certain that I was going to go back. I told people I would, but Sydney so represented to me a time and person in my life that caused so much heartache. I said it once before in a letter: the entire city felt like a statue to the life I once lived. I didn’t know that I was strong enough to put my hand back in the fire.

Turns out I was, and when I got back here, surprisingly, it felt like sliding into that favourite outfit of yours that fits you to a T; it just felt good to be home.

Don’t get me wrong – there were obviously hard parts of moving back to Sydney, as it’s hard to have someone you loved tell you not to come back for him. But sometimes I guess it takes a real kick in the face to realise some things in life have a do not resuscitate sign.

Relationship aren’t always easy, and I will be the first one to admit my relationship was far from perfect. There came a point in time I personally wasn’t happy at my core, and so ensued series of questions about my life. There came a point in time when I had doubts as to whether my relationship was right, whether it was a good partnership. I hated thinking of the term “the one”. Did I actually know what I wanted?

So, I am not going to act like we didn’t have issues and I didn’t have doubts before breaking up. It’s funny, too, because the night before it actually happened, a friend of mine said to me, “If you and X get married – wait, no, not if – when you and X get married”.

X picked me up later that night, and I remember we were driving home together. I turned to him and asked, “Are you happy?”

The next night, I was packing my suitcases to move out.

I didn’t know how permanent it would be, because the second it ended I wanted it back more than I could even begin to explain. I didn’t even know why. I may have had hesitations, but in time I knew that what I felt ran deep and strong, and that what I felt was real love. Despite everything, I was in love.

The hardest part I’ve learned of it all is making sense of everything, because no matter how you put it out in front of you in the most perfect of perfect equations, your heart always cancels everything else out – at least in my case anyway. The heart can’t comprehend logic.

It’s actually interesting, too, being a girl recovering from a break up. The amount of thoughts and things I hear every day – it’s just so…it feels almost like a sociology/psychology case of some sort. It’s like understanding a whole nother aspect of social life – or something. I don’t even know. Just – the explanations about actions or lack thereof, the reasoning behind thought processes and words and messages, the words of inspiration and the opinions. The ice cream and the movies and the red and white wines and vodka. Everyone brings out the vodka.

Anyway, I guess that in the past few days I have learned that I might not be ready to leave Australia, but I know it’s the right thing to do. I am going to take a professional hit, my bank account is going to be scrounging and turning to soup and bread, but it is something I need to do.

I told my friend the other day I think it’s time I have my own Eat, Pray, Love.

“But you’ve been Eat, Pray, Love-ing since 2007,” she said to me.

Half-true. This time around it’s different, because this time around I am not looking to do anything but calm my mind down and cancel out all the noise for a bit. I’ve been pretty shattered and depleted for a while now, and though I have been trying to fake it til I make it, it doesn’t always work out.

I’m hoping a trip to New Zealand in time for my 27th birthday will be the best way to close one chapter and start the next. Then, who knows.

For the story, right?

Category: Australia, Sydney

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