Also last Sunday we caught up with Rob, who has been trying really valiantly not to mope since his girlfriend Hanna left to take up her dream job in Sydney. (I’m trying not to mope without Hanna as well – she was my best yoga buddy and she put me onto aqua-aerobics too. One hour class + two hours chatting over coffee = a morning well spent with Hanna.)
First we let Rob thrash us at 2-on-1 basketball. (He’s really tall. And accurate with the goal shooting even after a couple of beers). Then we thought that a little live jazz down at the surf club might further lighten his spirits.
Townsville can be really tough on couples, and it has been the setting for many a tug-of-war, especially between couples who move to Townsville for one of them to take up a job here. No one moves to Townsville for any reason other than work, and it’s often the case that it’s a good career move for one person, while the other person has to take a serious dip or put their career on hold for the duration. The worst example couple I know is Debbie and Clayton: they moved here from Brisbane so that Deb could become the HR Co-ordinator on a mine site. Clayton's a chef, so he's at his busiest when Deb comes home on the weekend ... not at all ideal.
All the good employment opportunities here are in the "dirty" industries: big dirt-moving machinery, any kind of engineering, any trade, or construction. There’s not much on offer in the sort of work I used to go for – quite high level administration, personal assistant or event co-ordination. There was absolutely nothing here for Hanna, whose specialisation is European languages. That made it really hard for her to stay.
But it’s not always bad. Sometimes it works out really well; mostly when the other person was already looking for an excuse to give up their day job. Hayden and I fall into this category – I agreed to move here on condition that I would work only part time, and that I would have loads of time at home to do my own writing. Al and Julie are another couple who are making the most of it: they moved up here from Melbourne when Julie was offered quite a good job in a law firm; Al now works part time in the bike shop and spends the rest of his time training for Ironman, and it's much better for him to train in the mild Townsville winter than the snivelling Melbourne one, up to the world champs in Kona in August.
We never think of ourselves as here in Townsville for the long haul. We’re only here while it’s good for Hayden’s career - and we'll disappear in a flash when the next opportunity comes along. But already we’ve had way too many goodbye drinks … and it does get me down sometimes.