Home Sweet Home

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.

The set-up for an intimate garden party at our place in Dili- 3 courses and cocktails
The set-up for an intimate garden party at our place in Dili- 3 courses and cocktails

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.

Our once a month book club gathering
Our once a month book club gathering in Dili happened at our place this month and involved a movie screening and cake!

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.

The Tour de Timor starting line
The Tour de Timor starting line

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.

2 thoughts on “Home Sweet Home

  1. I’ve always struggled with the concept of what ‘home’ is since being young and moving around a lot, but I reckon it’s the people who you surround yourself with that make you feel ‘at home’. It looks like you’re having many wonderful and new experiences with both the expats and the locals, so I’m sure you’re making lots of people feel ‘at home’ as well!

    It must be strange having to forge connections with people quickly, as well as let them go. I suppose it all makes for better people skills and is an exercise in humility and maturity and being cool with the transience of the world. I’m trying to learn this myself. When you think about it, we face the same challenges here is Aus but the difference is it’s easier for us to wallow in the comfort zone and leave it unaddressed (to our detriment). It sounds like you are really challenging yourself in this regard, and are happier for it; and same with the people around you 🙂

    I’m missing you terribly but it’s all for a good cause, and reading about your experiences here helps me to feel that you’re not that far away after all! xx

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  2. So very proud of you and your achievements Christina. Both John and I are in awe of you! What a comforting feeling for parents to know that their daughter is not only safe and well in a new place-a new home, but that she is also happy, settled and doing constructive and positive things that benefit others as well as herself! Thank you for being you! Thank you for sharing who you are with the world. We are brimming with pride and happiness. Well done, Christina!

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