A little while ago I threw a cat at a girl at a party. Repeatedly. It sounds much worse than it is. In my defence, she totally had it coming and in her defence it was a Harry Potter party and I bought the TOY cat for five dollars at a supermarket.
I’ve just moved to Sydney and sometimes making friends can be difficult, but I’m really trying my best.
I grew up in a coastal town called Ballina in New South Wales. You’ve probably heard of our slutty cousin, Byron Bay. Ballina is where I was born and raised: it’s where I got my education, learned my values and practised kissing (I have my family to thank for all three).
And for those purposes it’s practically perfect.
Then why move?
Well, nosy reader, there were two reasons: firstly, ever since I was little I’ve harboured this lofty dream to make radio for Triple J and ask rhetorical questions on popular websites like this one. I couldn’t do that from home – wouldn’t you agree? (Tick!)
But there’s also another reason: some of my friends from home have started to pair off and get married.
Allow me to explain: I’m 21 years old. If my maths is correct, since I left high school, my graduating class of ninety has seen four weddings, three pregnancies, two engagements and a civil union that probably would have gone ahead if not for Campbell Newman’s unique take on what constitutes equality.
If you’re not good at counting, that means that eleventy percent of my class now own a symbolic ball and/or chain.
Did I mention I’m 21.
It seems to me that if you’re from a small town, you more or less have two choices when you’ve finished your education: you can settle down, have kids, and get married; or you can ride like the wind, Bullseye.
It’s a means of escape I’m calling the Inverse Sea Change (patent pending). The science of it involves realising that by the very nature of it being where you came from, your hometown is somewhat of a glass ceiling to where you’re going.
Certainly, there’s a lot to be said for home. I’m the proud, sexually frustrated, puberty-bearded man I am today because of it. To a large extent I’m really envious of my friends who have built a comfortable nest there.
To another extent it feels like I’m on a really shitty treasure hunt. Imagine you’ve been given a map and a compass, but no clues. As a rule of thumb, I would agree that it might make sense to START digging in your own backyard, what kind of dumb pirate buries treasure where he knows you’ll find it?
So I left home. I cried all the way here.
Now I live by myself in a renovated shoebox in Maroubra that I can move around in as long as I keep my body at a pretty strict 90-degree angle. I’m fucking great at Tetris.
At times it’s been an intensely lonely experience.
You have to learn to be your own best friend because sometimes there’s just nobody else. That’s not hyperbole. The simple, unfortunate truth is that you can’t foster the kind of closeness you built over twenty years in the space of a few months in a brand new place. You can’t even fake it.
It’s sad. But it’s also ultimately why I’m here.
I’m making opportunities for myself now that I couldn’t if I was living at home with a wife and a bub on the way. I’ve been able to pour myself into my craft, if only because I’ve had an abundance of time to do so.
But this isn’t Big Sur, nor am I Kerouac. I’m not on a quest for catharsis. At the end of the day, I just I want to have fun with my friends on the radio and take your hard-earned taxpayer dollars for doing so.
And I’ll get there. The dominoes are falling. Slowly. I’m learning to be more patient. I may still throw the occasional cat at parties, but now I do so in an attempt to prove that the Inverse Sea Change can and will work out.
If you’re wondering, the girl eventually gave me her number. We went on one date.
Max Quinn is a writer, radio person, and semi-professional duck enthusiast from Sydney. He tweets enthusiastically about ducks and also not ducks at @maxquinn.
Have you moved away from home to pursue your dreams? Do you believe where you come from can potentially stop you getting where you want?