Our story will never be made into a movie. I’ll never get a book deal about how we met. It was too easy, like it was the natural thing to do. I don’t remember the moment I fell in love him, I’ve tried to think of it, to pinpoint that second when my life changed. I can’t. One day I just realised that I did, and I liked it.
If you have never been to Darwin NT Australia then let me paint you a picture. I arrived in Darwin airport in early 2011 with a friend. We jumped on a bus and asked the driver to let us know when we reached the town centre. It didn’t take too long before we were angrily telling the driver that we had asked for the town CENTRE, not this random street. We were told that this was Darwin city centre. Having spent the last few months living in Sydney we were pretty shocked by the size differences in the cities. From what we could see, Darwin consisted of one main street filled with bars and hostels. We walked into the first hostel we came across and booked a bed for a week.
The best way I can describe Darwin life is like Never Never Land, filled with lost boys and tinkerbells. The main activity at the time was drinking. Darwin only has two seasons: wet season and dry season. Dry season is six months of glorious summer, not a cloud to be spotted in the clear blue sky. Days are spent at the beach, in the bar, exploring the national parks. The temperature rarely dropping below 30degrees celsius, but when it did you felt the need to put a sweater on, it was so easy to adjust to always being hot. Then the build up starts, signaling that the wet season was approaching. We were warned about it before it arrived and it was like nothing I had ever experienced. Wait, I’m getting ahead of myself, thats a story for part 2. It was dry season when we arrived and we made the most of it.
Being Irish, the necessary right of passage in Darwin was to immediately get a job in the Irish bar. This was actually counterproductive to the main hobby of being extremely drunk every night of the week as suddenly I found myself on the wrong side of the bar to my friends. When I did finally get a night off I needed to be introduced to the new friends that had joined the group. One such night of introductions was happening at a bar called Monsoons. “This is so and so she’s in our hostel room, this is blah blah he works in the kebab shop.” Such were the usual introductions and accompanying descriptions. After multiple polite handshakes and hi-nice-to-meet-you-I’m-sarah moments I arrived at the end of the line, the drunk person yelling the descriptions into my ear was about to launch into a dialogue that I found myself suddenly riveted to hear when I was pulled into a bear hug by the newcomer instead.
My skin tingled. It felt hot and more alive than it ever had. I wondered how drunk I was and then realised I had only just arrived. He laughed and pulled me in close so I could hear him. I have no clue what he said to me. His accent was strong and he was beautiful and it was all I could do to keep my legs from buckling under me.
Unable to talk and blushing as red as an Irish person in summer I ran off to the bar to get a drink. I was too nervous to go back and talk to him so I avoided him for the rest of the night, the thought in the back of my mind that there was something about that Welsh man. Little did I know then that he would never be far from my mind for the rest of my life.
We had been in Australia for six months now and we had no intention of leaving. In order to get a second year visa we would have to do three months of farm work or construction. Being small, weak Irish women we decided that construction would be an excellent idea. And it actually was. We loved our jobs on the construction site, our boss was Irish too and he treated us well. We worked hard and made good money.
In this time I was actively avoiding The Welsh Guy. I would see him around town all the time, something would come over me every time and I would run and hide instinctively. He overwhelmed me in a way I could not understand. I looked for him everywhere I went and then panicked if I actually saw him. One time in particular I had popped across to the grocery store. I grabbed a box of cereal off one of the shelves, it was the last box so the gap behind it was empty and I could see right through to the next aisle. There he was, in the next aisle, behind my cereal box. It could have been beautiful, like the fish tank scene from Romeo and Juliet. But instead I freaked out, dropped to the ground and army crawled all the way to the check out till.
He was seeing someone at the time, so was I actually. Months passed. I left. I moved to Perth and then to Sydney. Still I couldn’t get Darwin or The Welsh Guy out of my head. Something was pulling me back there. I needed to go. I ended my relationship and packed my bag again. I sat on the plane looking out the window as the Northern Territory’s Coast line came into view and I wondered if The Welsh Guy was even still in Darwin. The thought that maybe he wasn’t was painful. I had had enough. I gave myself an ultimatum. The next time I saw him I would speak to him and if I didn’t then that was that, it was nothing and I needed to move on.
It was amazing being reunited with the girls. We got ready in our hostel room. They were aware of my mission to finally talk to The Welsh Guy. There was a rugby match on that night, Ireland Vs Australia, it was a big one and the bar was packed. My eyes searched for him, he was no where to be seen. I was disappointed but watched the match with the girls and soon we were all having a brilliant night. Next, it was on to the late bar, Wisdom. My heart jumped out of my chest and into a strangers glass of double vodka and coke when I saw him. Ok change of plan, there was no way I could talk to him. Far too nervous. I needed a new plan.
Drinks bought, we danced our way through the crowd and stopped near him to chat. My back was to him and in that moment he stepped backwards, bumping into me and spilling my drink. (I may or may not have been standing in a position where this was unavoidable….)
Apologies and oh-hey-haven’t-we-met-befores were said and he was insisting on buying me another drink. He remembered me too.
We got to the crowded bar, the queue at least 5 people deep, and yelled our orders to the overworked and stressed out bar tender. We were pressed against each other and the bar in the huge crowd, we laughed and talked while the drinks were made. The Welsh Guy turned out to be The Scottish Guy, I was never very good with accents. Drinks in hand and still chatting, he punched his PIN number into the credit card machine the bar tender handed him. His eyes went wide, I glanced down at the machine. DECLINED showed up on the screen in big letters. He looked at me, RUN he said!
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