Sometimes I walk around this city that I’ve adopted, lost in my own universe of thoughts and whatever music is playing in my ear. I came here for the first time at 20 knowing I would come back. One broken engagement and a few years later, I did. No friends, no family – Just me, with no anchor and no knowledge of what life would have in store for me. At the time, I did not know if I would leave or stay, but as the years passed, here I am still.
Although I came from another crowded city, this one is different. Here I did not have the foundation of friends I could call when that first winter hit. Here I did not have a cousin whose home I could hide in during times of heartbreak. Here in my weakest moments, I learned to find my own strength. As any singular nomad will tell you, there are times when it gets lonely, but there are also times when being alone gives you the freedom to explore.
I have fallen in love in this city, thinking that it was that love that would keep me here. I fell out of love, but still remained. There have been lives built on the foundations of this city, and they too have fallen apart, only to be rebuilt into a different kind of existence. There has been laughter and tears, and through it all, I kept finding myself over and over again.
The New Year enters this city in a big way. Friends, acquaintance, and strangers come together to invite the new, hoping perhaps that this coming year will be the one where dreams come true, where everything just falls into place and they find what they are looking for. Perhaps they will fall in love on this night. It is a night of hopes, dreams, aspirations, intentions, and for some, action. Two strangers meet and endeavour to build a life together. Two lovers part hoping to find themselves again.
For some, a connection is found. For others, standing in a crowd is when they feel most alone, like a lost child looking in through a window at a family. For some, plans are made months in advance, while for others, it is the same tradition they have held their entire adult lives, in the comfort and safety of familiar friends. There are those standing on the harbour, waiting to be rescued and those out to rescue. Then there are the travellers, the nomads, the gypsies; where no plans are made, where there is absolute trust that where they end up on that day is where they are supposed to be.
Every New Year that I have welcomed in this city has been different, and without planning, I know that this year will be different again. I do not know what it will be, but I know that it will be.
As I stand on the Opera House steps over looking the Harbour Bridge, or by Waverley Cemetery looking out at the ocean, my breath is taken away all over again. I thought love would be what kept me here and I was right. At 20 I fell in love and although I fell in love with my ex fiancé right after that, this city already had my heart. This city hides me when I want to hide and lets me be seen when I allow it. In this city I knew complete and utter loneliness, and it was here that I finally fell apart after a whole lifetime of holding things up. It is here that I found how being alone allowed me to see that I was never on my own.
Sometimes it is when you think that you have nobody and you are completely alone that you find your somebodies. They might not be your blood, but you are united in moments of gold – they are the person who speaks to you on the bus, the stranger who steps into your place of work and ends up sharing their life with you, the friend who just holds you for a while when you’re feeling vulnerable, or the random person who smiles at you on the street.
It could be a moment or a lifetime, but it is these times that remind you that you are never truly alone.