Lifestyle · Travel

Turning 60 in the Land of Oz

image1Eleanore Wells with her sister apartment hunting in Sydney, Australia.

I’m turning 60 this year. And since my 59th birthday, I’ve spent a lot of time wondering what my 60s would be like and what they should be like. At first the idea of being 60 felt really daunting. It’s a really big number; my biggest yet (tee-hee). I wanted to be sure that what I was doing or had done was worthy of proudly claiming such a big number. I was also really cognizant that many people my age spend too much time talking about what they used to do. I don’t like the idea of my best years being behind me. I didn’t know how I would see to it that that didn’t happen, but I knew that I would. . .somehow.

Then, almost like magic, an offer to transfer to our Sydney, Australia office fell in my lap. I thought about it for maybe five minutes before saying “yes, of course.” The thinking-about-it-for-five-minutes is a direct result of my being single and child free; I only had to consider what I wanted, and what’s in it for me, without worrying about whose life I might be ruining. This could be exactly the kind of adventure I was hoping for. Turning 60 in the Land of Oz feels perfect.

I didn’t fret for a single moment about my decision to do this. It just felt right. I spent a lot of time, though, fretting about how I would pull it off logistically: what to do with my NYC co-op, my second home in Long Island, my car, all the crap I’ve accumulated all these years on earth. I had a couple of sleepless nights.

Here’s where I netted out: I gave away more than half of everything I own. It felt really good. Sold my car to a friend. Friends are looking after the Long Island home, which I will rent from time to time but not all of the time. My NYC co-op is on the market, waiting for a sub-letter. As I wrote this from the plane on my way to Sydney, I had this fantasy that the open house that was held will yield a really promising prospect. Then all the loose ends will be tied up and I can breathe even easier.

After I arrive in Sydney, I’ll stay in corporate housing until I find my own place. My sister is meeting me there and will be a good second eye for finding an apartment for me that’s just right. I’ve enjoyed fantasizing about my new residence in Sydney. Something minimalist and open, which is a curious twist because there’s nothing minimalist about the way I lived in NYC.

I had a fun lunch with some Aussie co-workers who helped me narrow down neighborhoods I might like to live in (which, by the way, was super helpful because I’ve never been to Sydney. Yes, I’ve packed up and moved to a place I’ve never been to. That’s all part of the adventure!)

The hope is to find something sufficiently close to my office in North Sydney and robust enough to keep me happy after-hours and on weekends—meaning restaurants, shopping, and stuff to do, indoors and out. Milson’s Point is my first choice: vibrant, with magnificent water views.

Once I made the decision to move, I noticed that I approached NYC slightly differently. I stopped looking at two things I typically like looking at: clothing and men. Clothing because, well, I’m throwing things out and not looking to re-accumulate. And the man thing just made sense. Here’s why: I went to a great party at Jazz at Lincoln Center.

While enjoying the festivities, I noticed a pretty good-looking guy looking my way. When we made eye contact, he smiled, nodded, and lifted his champagne glass to me. Under normal circumstances, I would have responded in kind and maybe even gone over to him. This time, I froze for a second and then looked away. “Oh no,” I thought, “this is no time to fall in love.” Dramatically, I took it all the way to love, when the reality is that it could have ended after a conversation. But I was taking no chances. My single status was the reason I was able to so easily take advantage of this opportunity. I certainly wasn’t going to start complicating things now with this handsome stranger.

IMG_4568Saying goodbye to the New York friends.

My heart is still full from the send-off I got from my amazing friends. A month of parties, dinners, and cozy tête-à-têtes made me feel so loved. . .and so lucky to have these people in my life. It’s that whole roots-and-wings thing. Most people apply this to kids, but it fits me, too. I realized that I have the stuff it takes to fly into this new life chapter because I am so rooted in the security of these strong relationships I have.

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  • Eeanore Wells October 6, 2015 at 5:59 am

    Thanks all. I’m really excited about this. My sister left today so now the reality of what I’ve done will settle in soon!

  • Susanna Gaertner October 5, 2015 at 7:25 pm

    What a splendid adventure!
    I did something like this (six months in Sydney–Manly, to be precise–, six in NYC) about 20 years ago and was prepared to settle permanently in Oz, if only I could get a job. Space restrictions here prevent me from telling you what happened during my various interviews.
    Fortunately, you have a job waiting for you.
    Here’s wishing you all the very best in your new abode.

  • Deborah Harkins October 5, 2015 at 1:00 pm

    Eleanore, I so admire your adventurousness! It’s breathtaking! Congratulations on your daring, and we look forward to many Eleanore bulletins from Australia.

  • Andrea October 5, 2015 at 8:05 am

    What an awesome opportunity! Please keep us posted on your Sydney adventures. Best of luck to you

  • Walker Thornton October 5, 2015 at 7:43 am

    What a grand adventure! I think this is just fabulous–do let us know how things go as you move into 60–so far so good as I start on 61.