When you tell people you're moving to Australia the response tends to be one of surprise. This was especially true when I told my mom over the phone, who I think went quiet for a good 60 seconds. Colleagues generally spoke the name out loud, half questioningly -- "Australia?" -- as if letting it sink in, typically followed by an exclamation like "That's incredible!"
All except for one person, a project manager working at the same client. "Oh," he said casually, "my daughter lives there."
Now it was my turn to be surprised; I didn't know of anyone who lived in Australia. "What's she doing over there?" I asked.
"She's a model."
Once again, not the answer I was expecting. I had a brief vision of getting invited to parties full of scantily clad beautiful women. (With Sharon, of course.)
"Yeah, she lives there with her husband, who's also a model. You'll see him on billboards around Sydney. He used to be a professional surfer. I'll pass on their contact details so you can get in touch."
When we arrived in Sydney, I sent the guy's daughter, Stacy, an email and we coordinated a meet up at the only bar in Double Bay, the Golden Sheaf.
Stacy was a sweetheart. Steve was everything I expected from an Aussie: friendly, gregarious, tan, into surfing. After a couple drinks we got to talking about the Sydney beach lifestyle.
"Just wait, mate." he told me. "Give it a few months and you'll be drinking chai tea, doing yoga, getting acupuncture. Your friends will come over and see you and say 'What the hell happened?'"
I was skeptical but should have known better….
A friend who lived in Japan said expats there had an informal rule book: "You know you've been in Japan too long when…" As in, "You know you've been in Japan too long when you bow while talking on the phone."
It's time for a similar rule book of my own, "I've been in Australia a long time when…" As in, "I've been in Australia a long time when I start doing yoga on a regular basis."
Yes, it's true. I've started doing yoga. I actually got up at 6:30am on a Saturday to go to a Yoga class. Voluntarily. And I purchased a daily deal for yoga on the beach. When I told Sharon, she replied, "Who are you and what have you done with my fiancé?" She loves it of course, as a yoga devotee, but it is, shall we say, an unexpected development in my character arc.
I haven't ordered Chai tea yet, (ashamed to admit I have) but I will have a few sips when Sharon gets one for herself. As for acupuncture…well, I haven't bought into it just yet, but sun exposure drives a man to do crazy things.