ON RETURN from our recent holiday in France and Italy, I was happy to be back in the spaciousness and quiet of Inverloch. Travelling is always an eye-opener for a curious mind. Different places, different languages and different foods stimulated me immensely. I embraced the whole experience of travelling. Although not everything was rosy, I tried to stay positive. We visited many incredible places, walked hilltop paths with superb views, and tasted delectable local produce. I was delighted when local people understood my tentative French.
When my husband decided to retire, he couldn’t imagine continuing to live in Melbourne. Melbourne had become too crowded and too big, and he had had enough of city life by then. Being four years younger than him, I still had lots going on for me in Elsternwick. My life was full – my work as a fitness instructor at gyms around Melbourne, my dojo for Aikido practice, and a circle of many good friends. I didn’t want to slow down just yet, and I couldn’t imagine cutting all the ties I had nurtured since I moved to Melbourne in my late twenties. Honestly, I thought I could have continued to live in the same way for at least another ten years. I couldn’t think of a better place.
When we spent one weekend in Inverloch, however, my mind shifted. Inverloch had everything we wanted – beach, fresh air, and a friendly tight knit community. The surroundings of Bass Coast and Gippsland offered outdoor activities that we wanted to continue enjoying. The best part was the peace and quiet of this charming seaside town. It was an ideal place for living a tranquil life away from city. We started looking for a place straight away. It was September 2012. We found a house we liked and purchased it in early 2013. On Christmas Day 2013 we moved in.
Although I was excited about a new chapter of our life in Inverloch, parting didn’t come easy for me. There was a great sense of loss – leaving everything and everyone precious behind me. I fought back my tears on many occasions as my imminent departure from my city life neared. Even after my move, I continued to travel to Melbourne on weekends to make my transition gradual. Moving to Inverloch also triggered thoughts about my move to Australia. During this period, I often reflected on the biggest decision of my life many moons ago.
My move to Australia was meant to be a trial. If it didn’t work out, I would return home. After a few years, my heart was torn. I loved my new life in Brighton, yet the yearning for my motherland intensified. At the same time, I began to truly understand and to appreciate the beauty of Japanese culture through the eye of the native person living away from Japan. I understood why Japanese society was so stifling for me without any judgment or criticism. How many times did I wipe away my tears at the airport when I farewelled my family? How nostalgic reminiscences of my primary school years made me pine for my childhood in Japan. As painful as it was at that time, I treasure this experience of deep yearning.
As human beings we have a fundamental need to belong. Belonging is an indispensable part of what makes us human, and that’s what drove us to live in beautiful Inverloch, now our adopted home.