Living in a positive, safe space is one of the most important things I need to feel comfortable and confident in a new city, so I’m not exaggerating when I say that I am exceptionally grateful for the place I have been living in since arriving here in Dili.
Before Dili, I had spent a few years living in Melbourne. When I arrived I found an affordable, comfortable house and stayed… and stayed… and stayed. It was a kind of tacky, 70s town house with a brown and orange kitchen that was way too small, and a garden that you could never get to look tidy. Despite all its flaws, I loved the place. I mean seriously loved it. I even banned people who didn’t respect our house from entering it. No lie and I’d do it again so don’t be a schmuck! We held parties often, dinners even more often and when friends and family were visiting Melbourne, or when a last minute venue was needed for a social gathering, our house always had its doors open.
I was also lucky because every one of the people I had lived with in that house was open minded, creative and generally pretty amazing. Saying goodbye to my housemates Zack and Lisa was particularly difficult when I departed for Dili. Zack is an exceptionally interesting and adventurous man from Guam who moved in after a massive trip riding his bicycle from San Francisco, USA to Bogota, Colombia. He liked to spend his time brewing beer, running marathons, brewing beer, climbing, and brewing beer. Lisa, an incredibly talented actress, artist and author, would spend her spare hours cooking with me, watching movies and TV shows with me, discussing whether those shows and movies passed the Bechdel test with me, and generally discussing feminism and politics with me. We did actually do a lot of things separately too, and mixed with totally different groups of friends… but the time we spent together would always be the highlight of my days in that house. Saying goodbye to those two was difficult to say the least.
Needless to say I had to prepare myself for a drop in standards in Timor… then, much to my surprise I landed in a share house with two very cool girls, a chilled out living space and an amazing yard. My two new housemates, Naomi and Caitlin, filled me in on their inspiring work and lives here in Timor, and within a week I was helping to host dinners, movie nights and book clubs here at the house. Loving it! Thanks to this new space and my awesome housemates I have been able to meet a new group of people I may otherwise have never met, and I have been able to orientate myself in a far more effective way that I otherwise would have.
Unfortunately, one of my new housemate’s work in Timor was coming to an end when I arrived, so after she rode in the five day Tour de Timor cycling competition (and scoring 4th place in the women’s comp!) we had to say goodbye. In fact, I’ve been saying goodbye to new friends every weekend since I arrived in Timor. I guess it is the nature of expat communities. No matter how well-established an expat community appears, it will always be fairly transient. Hopefully, between the all the endings, there will be many beginnings that can give me the opportunity to be as helpful and generous as other have been to me while I’ve been settling in to life here.