Just after 9am on the morning of the 2012 Aussie Rules AFL Grand Final Day, I flew to New York. Not only was it the first time in my life I would completely miss any of the hyped atmosphere of that day (I’d even gotten up at 4am to head to London pubs to watch the game while I was living there) but it was the first time I would take a seat on an infamous A380 aircraft, and the first time I was visiting the United States.
My mind was very preoccupied on the flight, far away from thoughts of inflight movie options and deep vein thrombosis, as less than 48 hours earlier, Victorian Police had confirmed they had found the body of Jill Meagher by the side of a farmer’s paddock. Like much of Melbourne, and Australia, I’d watched some of her last moments on that wedding boutique’s CCTV over and over, played ‘whodunnit’, and followed the coverage by the heartbroken ABC journalists of the heartbroken Australian-Irish family. As was the case of many young women living in Melbourne, I’d reflected on my personal security, and thought about all of the times I’d insisted friends ‘text me when you are home’. Fair to say that flying solo to one of the biggest cities in the world had a new perspective — but it was actually the best thing I could have done.
I wandered the streets of New York determined to make the most of every moment, no matter how tired my feet got (NYC blocks are big, and the streets are long) because I’d been reminded of something I already knew, which was the importance of personal freedom and independence, and just how precious our time here is. I wandered the Met, MoNA and Guggenheim; sat by the lake in Central Park; had blueberry pancakes for brunch at a diner; headed to the Hampton wineries with friends; stood on Southampton beach; had a lobster sandwich in Sag Harbour; spent too many Australian dollars shopping; bought (and promptly) at cupcakes from Magnolia Bakery; sat on an open-top tourist bus in the pouring rain (protecting my camera with a cheap poncho); applauded the Lion King on Broadway; got excited when I saw Brooke Shields and Snoop Dog/Lion on the street; watched the locals take on the Boston Red Sox at Yankee Stadium; wandered the aisles of Eataly and Foragers; took in the sun and cleverness of the Highline; rode the Circle Line; saw the Manhattan lights from Brooklyn at night; and caught a taxi to see the old studio of one of my high school photography heros, Robert Mapplethorpe.
I also spent time with great people — old friends and new — and felt comfortable, and excited in the New York. Two very important factors in wanting to move to a city.
“If only I could get a visa to work in the US” I said to my friend.
“You can” he casually replied.
“Yes — it is called an E3 visa. It is a special one for Australians. You should check it out”.
So check it out I did and I’ve recently returned to NYC and am exploring options to work.
While there are no guarantees, my plan is to get a job offer, and then make a request to the US Embassy for an E3 visa. If I don’t find work, ‘plan B’ of this experiment is to make the most of the northern hemisphere summer and go travelling. Though of I course all fingers are crossed that ‘plan A’ is a shining success.
And then, for the first time, I will experience living in an American city.