Welcome to Charlie & Brady, my personal attempt to capture this crazy, fast-paced and ever-changing journey we call ‘life’, if for no other reason than to remember that it happened at all…!
I’m 30 years-old (I still don’t know how that happened!). I love to travel (Rarotonga is next on the ‘To Visit’ list). The past five years have been some of the nuttiest I’ve ever had; in 2012, I was living in Sydney, Australia, had just ended an eight year relationship, and was furiously saving for an upcoming trip and to move to London, when my father introduced me to a man – let’s call him ‘Hank’, shall we? – in New Zealand. On our second night after meeting – the evening before I was due to return to Sydney – Hank said “you know, it’s my 21st birthday next week, and I’m spending it on the Gold Coast. If I buy you a ticket… will you fly over from Sydney, and join me on my holiday?”
Dreamworld, on the Gold Coast, Australia: home of the enormous rollercoaster!
My grandmother had been dying at the time, and I don’t know if it’s because I was suddenly ACUTELY aware of just how short life is, but I agreed, and spent a ridiculous, exhilarating week traipsing through all of the Gold Coast’s theme parks, and – honestly? – falling completely head over heels. A few weeks later, I boarded a plane for Dublin, Ireland to begin the first leg of the overseas adventure I’d been organising for over 12 months, before then making my way to Scotland, and on to Nepal. Hank and I were still speaking every day, and although my original plan had always been to settle in London after finishing in Kathmandu, I decided to join Hank in New Zealand, instead.
In late 2013, Hank and I broke up, and I flew back to Sydney. Three days later, I discovered I was 11 weeks pregnant with Charlie, and – after discussing it with Hank – agreed to fly back to New Zealand. By the time I arrived, though, he’d stopped returning my messages, except to tell me that he didn’t believe the baby I was carrying was his, and that I could “have fun proving it was”. I continued to live in Blenheim for six, miserable (man, were they miserable) months – I stayed because I had cheap rent (so, plenty of opportunity to save), a reasonably-paying full-time job, and because realistically, who else, WHERE else was going to hire a pregnant woman?! – before moving to Auckland, New Zealand at the end of my pregnancy. I gave birth to Charlie in July 2014.
In December 2014, my Auntie Ngaire suggested that I join her on a road trip from Auckland to Whakatane. Whakatane was very much my “happy place”; I’d spent a heap of my childhood there, visiting my maternal grandparents, and when Ngaire and I arrived this time, I quickly fell in love with the idea of actually settling in Whakatane. Once we returned to Auckland, I felt really out-of-place; so I started checking realestate.co.nz daily, and by February 2015, I had moved to and bought a small apartment in Whakatane.
I began working again in August 2015, my first job since leaving Blenheim, and it was there that I met Casey. It’s kind of miraculous that we even started dating; not knowing or conversing with anyone beyond Charlie for months had done nothing for my social skills, and I definitely didn’t want to “meet anyone”. I was burned out; Charlie had numerous – and complicated – health issues. The paternity testing I’d been fighting to have completed – you know, so that I could prove Charlie WAS Hank’s – seemed to be going nowhere. I didn’t have any money; I’d sunk every dollar I had into buying my unit, and while I was thankful to have it, those nights sharing a single, second-hand foam mattress with Charlie – because we literally didn’t have any other furniture! – were r-o-u-g-h. I felt like an empty shell. But Casey was determined to crack through; he invited me to lunch. He sat with me on my empty floor while we talked, for 12 hours. He pushed through each anxiety, every oddity, and within eight months, we had purchased and moved into a house together. We just clicked. In December 2016, he proposed to me on the Brooklyn Bridge, in New York. In September 2017 – ten weeks ago – I gave birth to our son, Brady.
What will the next five years hold? Who knows?! But I’ll try to document the adventures – and misadventures, *gulp* – that happen along the way in the meantime…!