The Fastest Year of My Life

This is the kind of statement that always makes me roll my eyes internally, but here goes:

2013 felt like the fastest year of my life.

I get it now, why people say stuff like that. One minute Jared and I were in the US, trying to figure out what to do with ourselves, and the next we were back in Australia with the whole year ahead of us. Then all of a sudden there were fireworks and the numbers 2014 were splashed all over the place, 2013 swept under the rug and doomed to memory.

It’s weird to me that this year went so quickly, because I moved around less in 2013 than I have in each of the past ten years. I used my passport once last year. Once. And because it’s a new passport, that means it has a grand total of one stamp in it. My passport is now a year old, but we’re still strangers to each other.

This dramatic slamming-on-the-brakes doesn’t reflect a total lack of travel or activity. Here’s a breakdown of the year, compiled mostly for myself in an effort to slow my spinning head, trying to figure out where the time went.


From our base in Indianapolis, Jared and I explored Chicago, flew to Washington D.C., bussed it to Pennsylvania, and went on to New York City. We got to catch up with family and friends who we don’t see nearly enough, and it passed by more quickly than I would have liked.

Starved Rock, IL
Starved Rock State Park in rural Illinois
Washington DC
The Lincoln Memorial: making the penny pretty.
NYC: Selfies with the Statue of Liberty require extreme focus.


We joined my parents for a road trip to St. Augustine, Florida, my mom’s home town and historical Fitzpatrick family vacation spot.

St. Augustine
St. Augustine


In an unexpected twist, Jared and I suddenly realized that we could go straight to Australia and I could apply for a partner visa there. After a few days in LA visiting my sister, we flew to Sydney and returned to Newcastle.

Los Angeles
Los Angeles


I spent most of April compiling the sheaf of documents required for the Australian partner visa application, which, by the way, I’m still waiting for final approval on. I do not wish this experience on anyone.

Partner visa
Partner visa


We started looking for rental apartments so we could move out of Jared’s parents’ house and decided to train for a marathon, and those two things apparently ate up the entire month.

I don’t even have a picture from May, but this one from April is worth publishing.


We moved into our own apartment and Jared surprised me with my first surfboard, custom-made with my sister’s artwork. Marathon training got hard. We ate a bunch and counted the weeks until it would end.

Seahorse love.


Bucket list check: I ran a marathon. It hurt. It took me months to fully recover. I might never do one again. But it was totally worth it.

This is what it looks like when someone is crying inside.


After 18 months of being engaged, we decided on a location and pinned down a September 2014 date for the wedding. The new object of my obsession, the tawny frogmouth also made his (her?) first visit to our balcony.

Tawny Frogmouth
He is so regal.


At the beginning of the month, my mom spontaneously flew out to Australia to visit. At the end of the month, I finally finished the first draft of my memoir – something I’ve been working towards for seven years.

Newcastle Australia
Newcastle Museum

October – November

We settled into life in Merewether, our beachside suburb of Newcastle. Like May, I can’t pinpoint what happened during these months, but this is when living here stopped feeling new and transitioned into comfortable and familiar.

Merewether Ocean Baths
View from the baths.
My wheels at the city library.


This was the month of Jared’s 30th birthday, and all-around festive spirit. The tawny frogmouth returned with a family (!), the sun came out, and summer kicked off. We celebrated the new year in Sydney, at the foot of the harbour bridge. Confirmed: Sydney has the most beautiful harbour in the world.

Sydney Harbour
Sydney Harbour (all that land, all that water)

 …And then it was over.

Now it’s 2014. Do I have resolutions? Not officially. There are things I want to accomplish, things I know I’ll accomplish, and things I hope to change. From my current vantage point, standing here on the edge of 2014, I’m excited about what I see.

This is the year Jared and I get married, and the first time we’ll have friends and family from both sides together for a celebration. All going well, I’ll get my Australian visa. Fingers crossed I’ll even finish the final draft of my book and let other people read it. There are some other ideas – yes, travel plans – brewing for the end of the year.

But I won’t talk about that yet. It’s only January, and I need to slow down and soak it up. Whatever happens, I want to enjoy 2014 because before I know it we’ll be here again, after the holidays, wondering where it all went.

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  1. TOTALLY agreed man – where did this (shoot, I mean last) year go???

    I have loved your tawny frogmouth saga on facebook. What a bird.

    I hope you get more action in your passport this year! Also let’s make 2014 the year we finally meet up? can we can we please?

    1. Um, yes. Unfortunately it looks like I will only be in two places this year: Australia and Hawaii. Looking to do a return visit down under by chance? I will likely still be here, staring at the tree behind the apartment, wondering when the tawnys plan to come back and planning to entice them inside with pieces of raw meat. (That’s a joke. I obviously don’t sit outside with raw meat waiting for a bird. Obviously.)

  2. I really wish I had stumbled onto this site immediately after finishing University. Lots of helpful tips on living abroad in many countries!

    On a related note – is the partner visa really that intense? I am looking at moving back to Newcastle (fun place!) where my girlfriend lives and applying for one! I hope it’s not too stressful…

    1. The partner visa…it felt like my full-time job while I was putting together the application but now it’s a vague memory as I wait to be contacted by a case officer. My application was made complicated by the travel & working abroad I’d done (which required multiple police checks from various countries), and the fact that Jared and I have been together for over 5 years but don’t have the ‘normal’ documents (rent, utility bills) proving that we’ve lived together consistently. In the end, it all came together (I think, I hope). If you have questions about the process feel free to ask, though I’m no expert!

      Thanks for the comment and good luck with whatever you decide – we expats could definitely do worse than Newcastle!

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