Temporary Citizen

Hi, I’m Helen and I live at no fixed abode.

To me, this is one of the joys and curses of being a long-term traveller; a real double-edged sword. You have the opportunity to live short-term in any place that takes your fancy. But it’s near impossible to be accepted in these locations as a ‘real’ resident. Once everyone finds out you’re a traveller and will inevitably be moving on before long they tend to hold back from getting too close. I can’t really blame people for that – it can be a real bummer saying goodbye to people you really like over and over again.

For the first seven months of my trip the longest I spent in one location at any one time was five days (and that was because I was completing my diving course). I lived temporarily in so many towns I really have lost count. You arrive, orientate, and just as you’re getting to grips with streetnames, public transport and where the best places to eat and drink are, you’re off again.

Melbourne friends.
Melbourne friends.

Since December I have made Melbourne, Australia my home. I didn’t even mean to be here this long, but the place got under my skin. By the time I leave I will have been a resident of Melbourne for 10 months, a pretty long time by any standards. Yet as I embrace this city and feel at home here, it doesn’t always embrace me. I almost got arrested once for not being able to prove my address as I had just moved house and the only ID I own is from Britain (don’t worry, I charmed my way out of it). Australia loves to give me massive fines, too – but that’s another story.

Lately I’ve been feeling more and more frustrated that so many connections I’ve developed here may need to come to an end in a few short months. I’ve made genuine friends in Melbourne and the thought of leaving them behind is pretty upsetting. So I’ve tried to be as self-sufficient as possible over the last few weeks in order to soften the blow that is sure to come.

Being a temporary person in places and in people’s lives can be rough sometimes. You’re never quite sure how things might be different if you actually lived here rather than were passing through. Would that person be a friend for life? Would you love living here forever as much as you do for a few days or months? And, most difficult of all, would you and that person you’ve started a thing with have a real something together if you weren’t about to leave?

Nearly everything about travel, I love. Being a temporary citizen is one thing I’m not so keen on at the moment.

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