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Why I Decided to Leave Sydney

If you head on over to Vickie's website, you'll find a post detailing her feelings on the matter of friendship and staying in touch. She talks about me quite a bit in it, and I have to say, she's spot on right down the line, both about me and about the rest. I don't feel as though I can let it go without some comments from me as well.

Now, in case you're wondering, this has all come out of a rather dodgy day capped off by an equally disappointing evening. You could say I'm being spiteful. You could be glad I'm opening up. You can dismiss me as having a silly rant. Whatever, just read it first.

For a long time, we've both felt that we were getting short shrift from people we consider friends, especially when we sent them invitations to get-togethers or games. Our messages effectively said, "We like you; we'd like to see you more often." Sure, we accepted the fact that the people we invited all had lives and busy schedules, but the fact that so few of them had the decency to get back to us with even a "Sorry, we can't make it", even after a follow-up or two - not to mention all the no-shows and "Oh, sorry, was it today?"s we got from many of the people who did respond with an affirmative - gave us the message loud and clear: "Rob, Vickie, you're just not worth the effort."

Telling us what a slack bastard / bitch you are is not an excuse, it's an explanation, and not a good one.

So let me give you some explanations myself, ones that soud less like half-baked poetry. Oh, the reasons in that post are definitley valid and true - but I feel that it's high time I gave you the real meat, told you the prime reasons why I - note that, not Vickie, but I - decided to leave Sydney.

Let's crank that good old WABAC Machine up and skip back to May of 2004, a nice, short trip. Grandma, my Dad's Mum, had just died. You may remember that a couple of days later, I made a cryptic mention of bad news coming in threes. The first thing was that letter from the EPA re. good old Madam Lash's smoking exhaust. The second was Gran dying. A few of you already know what the third was, and although I was being cryptic out of respect for privacy, I think there's enough time between now and then, plus it's high time the rest of you know.

A couple of weeks earlier, one of the guys at the office, the one who worked in the other half of my team, Product Management, had reached the end of his six-week notice and left the firm. After finding out the bad news about Grandma, I'd taken Monday off, and got in on Tuesday to be told that this guy, whom I'll admit I didn't know too well but liked nonetheless, had committed suicide.

Now, this took everyone at work by complete surprise. Blindsided us all. Sure, the job was clearly and evidently driving him up the fucking wall. Imagine someone who cannot suffer fools having to surround himself with them, work under them, in order to keep food on the table: he had shakes, regular smoke-o breaks, the whole verging-on-nervous-breakdown works, and somehow none of that prevented him from doing a bang-up job. That was why we figured quitting was the best thing for this guy; it was his first step on the way to a better life. He'd been talking about moving North and doing something entirely non-IT related, and I thought that was what he'd do, we all did. Instead, for reasons known only to himself (and I hope never to know or understand them), he took his own life.

Vickie was working that night, and because money was, as usual, a little on the tight side, she couldn't take the time off, so I called a few mates who kept me company. For their time and generosity, I'm very grateful.

The funeral was huge; most of work and most of his home town turned out for it. I cried. Hell, I cried in the therapy session that work organised for me on the Tuesday I found about what he'd done to himself.

Okay, fast forward a few months. Vickie and I had gotten married. Our honeymoon had been shorter than we'd hoped, and I wasn't looking forward to the day that I'd have to tell Mum & Dad - not because I wasn't proud of what we'd done, but because I was expecting an inevitable shitstorm from my family when I finally told them. Also, we'd been looking around Maitland while we were up there for our honeymoon. We were still entertaining thoughts of buying a place of our own, and the Hunter area seemed like a good place to live and quite possibly work.

Then, barely two weeks after Vickie and I got married, Mum went to bed after a sleepless night and didn't wake up. Because I'd forgotten my mobile, Dad called Vickie, who called my boss Allison, who called me into her office as soon as I got to work. When she mentioned bad news, I thought that both Mum and Dad had gone, simply because I couldn't imagine them not doing anything together. I went straight home, and from there Vickie and I went to Mum & Dad's.

I cried when I saw Mum's body that Friday morning, but I didn't cry at the funeral. I wondered how it was that I could cry publicly for a bloke I'd only known a year or so but not for my own mother. Maybe because I wasn't ready to face it (maybe I'm still not). Maybe I'd cried all my tears that Friday morning. Maybe because three-plus years of treading carefully around my family to avoid getting more shit over Vickie had taken their toll. Maybe it was because, as I told Dad that Christmas, Vickie was there for me, sitting right behind me, while it was just me at my colleague's funeral. Or maybe because Dad had taken an opportunity on the very Friday morning that Mum died to take me aside and have a few choice words with me about my inheritance of the house and the family's opinion of Vickie and I was waiting for him or someone else to decide the best way to deal with their grief was to take more potshots at yours truly. Maybe all of the above.

Hard to believe? I'd say fair enough, but what you don't know is that on that Friday morning, Mum's immediate family made their way to Mum and Dad's, and while most of them were willing to tell me what I should or should not be doing for and around Dad, and how I should or should not do it, not one of them said to me, "Rob, you've just lost your mother, and that must be awful. If you need anything, we're here." (Actually, one of them, on our way out, actually told Vickie, "take care of him".) I actually said "If you need anything, I'm here." to Dad on that day, a few times, and it took him until the family Christmas lunch - after he'd had another few shots at me about lack of interest in pursuing a technician-type IT career and vaious other things - to actually ask me how I'd been doing all this time.

I've skipped ahead a little more than I'd intended. Let me go back again to October. Vickie's birthday was coming up, and I was finally hoping to catch a break after everything that had happened over the last five months, when Dan and Lesley split up. We put Dan up for a few days which turned into almost a week - despite his insistence that he knew he was imposing on us at a tough time (this was a month after Mum's death), I had to nag him to find out whether he'd called his new boss about subsequent accomodation as he'd said he would. He was also rather rude to us during his stay. During that time, I said to Vickie more than once, "Makes you wish we were back in Cairns, doesn't it?"

So Dan finally leaves on the Sunday after Vickie's birthday. I decide to take Monday off for a mental health day. I walk into work Tuesday morning, and Allison called me into her office again. The day before, she'd finally decided that she'd had enough of being overworked, under-recognised, under-rewarded and generally treated like shit by her peers, managers and staff and handed in her notice.

After talking with Allison for a while, I walked straight out the front of the office, called Vickie on my mobile and said, "Guess what? Allison's just quit. ... you know what, I've had it. Let's move to Cairns." If someone as intelligent, dedicated and hard-working as Allison could no longer see a future for herself at that firm, I couldn't see any future for me there or anywhere else in the field in Sydney. I was buggered if I was going to wait until I got ground into the concrete like Allison had been before I decided to quit.

If you've read everything up until now, you'd probably be thinking that Allison quitting was just the last straw, and by God or whoever you do or don't worship you'd be very, very right. Aside from a very few bright spots it had been a miserable six months in Sydney, and I had no hope of it ever getting better. It was time to go, and already having a place of our own up here only sweetened the idea.

(By the way, did any of you know that I was taking advantage of work's Employee Assistance Program and seeing a psychologist every other week after Mum died? The last time I did so I was working for Advantra, and not long after that I decided to take a risk and quit that place with nothing to go on to. Sound familiar?)

Now, I figured I might be missed. Actually, I not-so-secretly hoped for a mass-exodus from Sydney as you guys thought, "Hell, if Rob can't stand it here any more, is there anything that makes staying here worthwhile for me?" and followed us up here. A fond pipe dream, absolutely, never thought it anything but. Still, the worst part of leaving was leaving you all behind. I missed you guys and girls, and still do. Evidently, though, not many of you returned the sentiment.

That town chews people up and spits them out, and if you can't see what you're letting it do to you, and what you're letting yourselves do to each other, then I pity you. No, of course there's no guarantee Cairns won't turn out the same way, but Vickie and I are hanging onto our slice of peace for as long as we damned well can. Recently, I was of the belief that the miracle of modern technology would mean that I could still share some of the fun I enjoyed with a lot of you, but based on tonight and a few weeks ago, given the choice between optimal conditions and not gaming with me, some of you would prefer the latter.

Now you've reached the end of this post, there's only one more thing I want you to know. If you want to get in touch with me about this, no matter what you think or feel or have to say, please do so. You likely have our e-mail addresses, and you probably already have our number. Vickie and I will be home most of tomorrow.

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This kind of shit is happening to me, and I live in the same gorram city as people... TWO BLOCKS from one friend who is constantly just not showing up to shit that we've organised to do.

I've retreated further and further into cyberspace. I talk to people in Perth more often than I talk to people who live in the same suberb.

My relationship has gotten to the point that unless I rant on my journal, boi won't pull his weight around the house. I've come back from Qld thinking that it might just be easier if I cut my losses and bug out... but I got NIDA next year that is keeping me here.

Ho, Lauren,

We know you probably weren't thinking of bugging out this far North, but we just want to remind you that, if you need somehere to stay while you sort yourself out, you're always welcome at our place.

But we know how much you've been wanting to get into NIDA, and we hope things work out for the best for you. We're always on this end of the phone, okay?

Dude, it's posts like this that make me realise that the web has both allowed us to keep in touch with each other & also allow us to feel like we are in touch but really we aren't because we don't actually use it to stay in touch. The idea is there but our use of it is sometimes too late ... especially when these are people we like to think are dear to use but then we see that we have done little to actually show this to them.

You know I care for you - but I have failed to show this. I could have emailed this privately to you but I wanted others to see that they are (possibly) not the only one thinking this - that you are loved & missed & you are the stronger one by taking the step & actually doing something about it. Many of us have wanted to do the same & make our lives easier & get out of "the grind"

Though I haven't followed you & you know I am one of those who is so busy I barely have time to scratch myself (my favourite pastime) I wish you both love & I know you have done the right thing for you.



Hey Mate,

There is alot of this I gotta take on the chin, Seth said to me this morning "Rob sounds pretty upset" and I thought huh!?! then when I checked IMAGinES I noticed I was soft bouncing, and looking back at my last email I had been soft bouncing for ages. I also should have turned up to your farewell from sydney, but as I recall I wasn't fealing to well.
I think all parties involved could have made more of an effort to keep in contact. However you and Vickie are worth more to me than my pride. If you need me to apologise, I'll do that. hey, if there is anything else (with in reason) you need me to do in order to make this up to you guys let me know.


P.S. you are so ABSOULOUTLY RIGHT about Sydney, I noticed it just moving here from the blue mountains, the unfortunate thing about it though is the employment. I spent 3 to 4 years being unemployed in the mountains, then got a job almost as soon as there was a sydney address on my resume.

Hi, Christian. It's good to read you again. I did wonder why IMAGinewS was showing your e-mail address as "Bouncing", but really, you don't have much to apologise for!

As for the "all parties" bit - it might be selfish of me to absolve myself of blame, but when I think of the two Christmas parties I mentioned in the post, I remember how Vickie and I sent invitations for parties and such out by snail mail (investing a lot of time and effort in presentation) then followed up by e-mail and phone, and we still had no-shows and "Oh, was your do tonight/last night? Sorry, I went to someone else's party instead." So yeah, we were making tons of effort.

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