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SURRY HILLS
On arriving in Sydney we stayed with Anna and her fiance Sam, before finding our own studio flat in Surry Hills. With my industry experience I was able to gain entry into a technical college where I studied business management. Nando had no problem finding full time work in the city centre and I worked part time as a live artists' model at Julian Ashton Art School.

Soon after completing a diploma in Business Management I got a job in sales with a finance company in the heart of Sydney's high rise finance district. After 2 years of Sydney I'd become almost completely reclusive. Without the constant challenges of managing a lodge and being in charge of a team I'd lost touch with the parts of myself that I felt most proud of. All the skills I'd learnt and made use of in Peru now seemed obsolete. My life became a tightly tuned routine of work and chores, without any room for enjoyment. I'd not made any friends in Sydney, and even though we were all living in the same city, I'd become distant with Anna, James and Mum. Family get-togethers had become a painful ordeal, which I dreaded and avoided as much as possible. I didn't have the time or energy to be with people and felt I had nothing to offer them. I recoiled from my family's attention and concern, which at that time felt intrusive and critical.

My best friend from Kalang, Phil, had been trying to get in touch with me, but I'd not been answering his calls. He ambushed me one day outside my building as I was leaving work. His bluntness affected me.
I couldn't ignore him telling me I looked sick and he was worried. I knew I was sick. I was deeply unhappy and I felt trapped.

Seeing him again was a huge reminder of what my life had once been like and how different it was now. He reassured me that it didn't have to be that way and that I could change. I felt I'd been granted permission to get out of Sydney and my present misery, and so I took it.
RUNNING AWAY
I left my job, Nando and Sydney soon after running into Phil and moved to Big Bush to stay with Dad. I focused my days around doing things I enjoyed doing, like painting and gardening and going for long walks in the bush, but as the months passed my uneasiness grew, and it became more and more apparent that I couldn't stay there forever. Nando left Sydney and joined me at Big Bush a few months later while we planned what to do next.

In a manic blur I got my drivers' licence, bought a car and set out with Nando up to Bellingen to find somewhere
to live. Over the course of the next 3-4 years we lived at Kalang near Bellingen, Cairns in North Queensland, and back to Sydney again. I worked as a hotel room assistant, artist in residence at the Cairns Flecker Botanical Gardens, I briefly had a market stall where I sold t-shirts and prints, and I taught English.

None of it felt right. I even returned to Peru by myself for a year and got another position working as resident manager at Cock of the Rock Lodge in Manu National Park, until once again my emotional baggage caught
up with me and I returned, defeated, to Australia and Nando with nowhere left to go.