In the beginning
August 10th 2017 - In the beginning
I pull up to the lights on the way home from work. It’s the middle of August, 2017. An older man waits patiently to cross the road, his clothes are ragged and he has a defeated look about him. Instantly I feel bad for him, writing this now I still feel bad for him. And then I feel a pang of guilt, what gives me the right feel the way I do? This could be the happiest man alive, the most well travelled with the kind of stories I could only dream about telling. Yet part of me feels like he’s missing out on something. I’ve felt this way as many years as I can remember, I put it down to my own searching.
The searching eased when I met my partner, Taylor. You will hear plenty more about her later, from me and her. In the first person, third person and, in general whatever contravenes literary technique the most. But still, as humans we search everything, trying to find the meaning and trying to understand ourselves. In January 2017 I was doing just that, I was googling ‘most remote job in the world’. I’d already considered Macquarie Island years earlier, and Antarctica is on mine (and Taylor’s) list. A name jumped out at me, Maatsuyker Island. A rugged, isolated island off the coast of South-West Tasmania.
I took note that this was a volunteer opportunity through Parks and Wildlife Service Tasmania. At that point applications weren’t open. I remember looking up first hand experiences on the island, caretakers are required to stay for 6 months and be largely self sufficient. Contact with people would be limited, it rained 250 days of the year and highest recorded wind gusts were at 180km/h. Right up my alley. I mentioned it to one of my sisters and she said something like “sounds cool, but good luck convincing anyone to go with you”!
Taylor didn’t need any convincing! The applications were tough, lengthy selection criteria and fairly specific requirements. I honestly thought we had a decent chance. Sure enough, we got a bloody interview! We flew to Tassie, worst case scenario we figured we would get a holiday in one of the most beautiful places on earth! I was way more nervous than Taylor before the interview, I was trying to hide it so I didn’t freak her out and doing a poor job of it. The interviewers were great, two parks employees and the head of the volunteer friends group on the island.
We found out there were 1000 applicants and that was shortlisted to 8 (couples). I'm pretty sure I looked shocked. Reflecting on this, it makes sense, the advertisement ended up on Facebook with thousands of shares. Not only that, but applications were open to anyone in the world! I left the interview thinking how well we did, Taylor felt good about it but was a little unsure. Either way, it’s not often you interview with someone you love. We went straight to a nearby fruit grower the interviewers told us about, I swear fruit never tasted so good as it did that day.
For the next month we both waited. We both had doubts, why would they pick us when we were much younger than past applicants? With age comes experience and I was worried this might play against us. As well as doubting we would get the opportunity, we had minor arguments about what would happen if we did get it. Would we both have to quit our jobs? What about our wellbeing? And how about that damn wind?!
We got the call that we were successful. I was at work and I could have cried with happiness. But it wasn’t all about me, I waited to see what Taylor said. She said yes! I could have married her there and then, but I thought it might be a good idea to wait and see if we survived the Island first!