Returning to the scene of the crime

Wednesday, September 11, 2013 Permalink

I didn’t hate my old life. At least I don’t think I did. But as the time draws near for me to return to my old hometown, I’ve been noticing an increasing sense of dread.

I’ve  lived in Brisbane off and on over the past 25-30 years, first heading there to university just after my 17th birthday. After many years in other cities and countries I was relieved to be again calling it my home when I moved back there in early 2002. And I’m fairly sure I enjoyed living there. Indeed, I couldn’t imagine being anywhere else over the following 10 years.

Until late last year, when I was offered and accepted a redundancy from my government job and decided to make substantial life decisions and do the whole sea change thing.

I love my new life. Far more than I expected. In reality I wasn’t sure how I’d cope moving out of the State’s capital into a regional city near my childhood hometown. But, my apartment on the beach and ridiculously laid-back lifestyle is far more fulfilling than I could have believed. Of course it’s not perfect, but… nothing is.


When I left Brisbane I reassured shocked friends that I’d be back often. And I certainly assumed I would. I expected to be dashing back on a monthly basis for a shot of culture and catch up with friends.

However… I’ve had two very fleeting visits in the past year and have had little desire to spend more time there. Sure I miss my friends and family in Brisbane, but with our busy lives much of our contact was online anyway.

And now, I’m about to pass through Brisbane again – enroute to the Problogger Training Event being held about 100km south of Brisbane on the Gold Coast.

When I first signed up to go to the conference I assumed I’d spend a bit of time in Brisbane before and / or after. However, as the time drew near I found myself increasingly reticent to do so. Indeed, I’m actually spending the minimal amount of time I can there and away from home. A night either side seems to be all I can manage. I’m staying with family and have warned friends I won’t have time for catch-ups.

I’m trying to work out where this antipathy comes from. On my last (and second) visit to Brisbane I was driving through the city to head home. As I drove along one of the major roads (just after peak hour) I noticed some late commuters. I looked at a woman in a business suit standing at a bus stop and was immediately overcome with some sense of dread and had a very visceral reaction.

That was once me, I realised. And in that same moment I was struck with how much I did not want a return to that life. It’s strange, because – for the last ten years that I lived that life – I wasn’t incredibly depressed. I had some jobs (and bosses) I disliked, but on the whole I trudged to and from work every day, dealing with public transport, traffic and annoying colleagues cos… well, cos that’s what you did. I had to pay the mortgage and so there was no choice.

But perhaps I was unhappier in that life than I realised at the time. My reaction certainly indicated that – and my bizarre dread of returning there – even briefly – seems further evidence.

I’m wondering if I no longer feel as if I belong, or as if the place is evidence of some past failure? Indeed, I’ve experienced that before – when having to return to my old University stomping ground!

Either way, I’m hoping that it’s just one of those things that I’ve delayed for so long that – once I’ve done it – it will no longer be a big deal (like going to the gym after a long break).

I can’t imagine being seduced by the allure of the bright lights, but hopefully I’ll be surprised with some fond memories.

Have you experienced anything familiar?
Do you hate returning to your old stomping ground (aka, scene of the crime?!)


  • Jess
    September 11, 2013

    I used to live in Brisbane as well, only for 2 years. I get really excited when planning a return but then right before get really anxious. Part of me really misses and wants to re live it but then I also get anxious when I return that everyone will have moved on, it will feel different and awkward. I do love Brisbane, I don’t know if I’ll ever live there again though or if I’d even enjoy it. I have similar issues with California, I have lived there twice for extended periods and the second time I was really chasing my first experience but it was totally different and when I return I feel really mixed emotions, happiness to be back, regret I’m not still there, relief I’m not still there and sometimes just wanting to head right back home because the feelings are uncomfortable.

    I hope you enjoy your quick visit and it isn’t so uncomfortable. As you said like returning to the gym after a long break.

    • Debbish
      September 11, 2013

      Thanks Jess. Hopefully being there (here – I’m here now!!!) will help me understand my reticence and get past it!


  • Char
    September 11, 2013

    It’s time to build happier memories of Brisbane. It’s not all bad here. And some of the locals are really quite nice .

    • Debbish
      September 11, 2013

      Hee hee! Yes… I don’t mind much of the local wildlife!!! 😉

      I don’t think (when I left) that I would feel such angst about returning. Not exactly sure what’s at play. Perhaps it’s a ‘being away from home’ thing as much as a ‘being in Brisbane’ thing.

  • Andy
    September 12, 2013

    I went to the Problogger training event. Awesome. Hope you like it as much as me, very clever tips.

    • Debbish
      September 12, 2013

      Great to hear that you enjoyed it. I’m sure I’ll get a lot out of it!

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