I used to be quite fearless. Until the age of 22 and 6 months I knew that all I had to do was wish for something to happen and it would. When I needed marks, I reached out lazily to my few hours study and plucked knowledge effortlessly from my mind. When I needed company I picked up to phone to one of my cherished friends and I was diverted. When I needed a job I asked and received with little need to exert myself.
Emotionally I suffered a moment of doubt once a year exactly, a yawning pit of bottomless horror that would immobilise me for about 30 seconds and pass, letting me live my life on a relentlessly optimistic upward curve. And when I was handed my darkest hour, the only person who could pull me through did so without ever allowing fear to touch my heart. I have suffered only one debilitating family death, no hardship and while I have my biting moments of shame, they are of a kind that can be righted by quick hard work.
I suspect I suffered no fear because I did not think I had anything that could be used against me. I was never more than a few hours drive from all the people I ever loved. No events I could not control drove me in directions I did not want, nor was I displeased with my circumstances. My life was easy, gentle, soothing and provided me with all I needed.
I well remember the day I let that life go. It was a petty moment, a moment of anger that was all too rare in me in those days, yet stone hard and unyielding when unleashed. I had drawn out the easy life as far as it would go and a natural watershed in my life was approaching. Someone flipped my switch once too many times and I just slammed my mind away from routine and was presented with London. I took it, not understanding anything beyond the fact that it would be like Perth, only bigger and with a different accent.
My first stab of fear was standing in the departure lounge with the last call for boarding in my ears as I frantically searched for my father, late to see me off. He came with moments to spare, but the loss started then, missing my family mere minutes after walking on the plane, missing my friends barely an hour later. It was pathetic in its unforeseen reality.
One thing about being the oldest in a group, being accustomed to being the first at everything, is that whether it is working your way through school and uni, falling in love and conducting a relationship, holding down a job or leaving for another country, you are forever conscious that you did not know what you were getting into and you are not sure you got everything out of it. Whilst you know logically that everyone goes through life doing everything for the first time, as the oldest and the first of your group to do what has been done for time immemorial, you can feel that you are still stepping where few people you know have been before.
Until two months ago I was still quite fearless. I had been toughened somewhat by my own supremely bad decisions, petty flaws of mine that had been inflated to true faults and some moments of the callousness of both life and my own untrained reactions to it that rubbed away some of the gloss of my shiny armour of optimism. On the plus side I had, within a mere 48 hours of stepping onto British soil, come home. I had stepped into the soft air and stifling ineptitudes of the only country on earth that I knew better than myself. My knowledge, my writing, my passion, my love blossomed into a wordless certainty that since I had worked so hard to get here and stay here and learn here that I would be rewarded.
And it was when I realised that all the will, the passion and the desire could not be satiated by my usual run of good luck and simple will that fear struck me. You see, I am alive on this soil and I will be dead in Perth. I fear that the void of Perth will simply stop my creative heart in its tracks. My mind will grope for stimulation and find nothing to exercise it. I fear my life, started in earnest 22 months ago, will die in 2 because I can’t get a visa. Pathetic. I should have stayed at home. At least I would not know what I was missing.
Originally posted on Exiled Britophile, a blog I updated for about twelve months when I returned home from London. Due to it's frank discussion of how horrid I found Perth, these pieces had only been read by my London readers until 2011.