When I left Australia 7 years ago, to say I was devastated was an understatement. I’m not a crier, but I publicly sobbed like a child on the way to the airport after saying goodbye to the people who had become like family to me during my short stint living there.
The whole flight back to the US I was brainstorming rampantly, wondering how quickly I would be able to make it back. As things go, I became too caught up with life, and it kept getting put on the back burner. While I checked for visas on occasion and wondered what had changed on the other side of the world, I knew in my heart I wasn’t going to be able to make it back quickly.
Spare time feels like a luxury at this point in my life. I spend a lot of my time juggling two jobs, trying to find a balance so I can maintain being a loyal friend and a good family member, while still managing to travel and putting a roof over my head. And forget about maintaining that roof.
My housekeeping skills are sub par at best, and finding the time and energy to cook and clean for myself is quite the chore. Not that I was wonderful at either of those things before I was this busy (just this morning I decided I would make myself banana pancakes for breakfast and am regretting the decision as there is currently flour everywhere in my apartment).
I have three days off this month. And it stresses me out a lot, but I also don’t hate it. There’s a part of me that enjoys being so busy that I don’t have time to think about other things. But it eventually catches up with me, and I find myself wanting a break and some sleep and maybe to have more quality time catching up with my loved ones.
But travel is the love of my life. I’m constantly planning the next trip in my head, and having a job that sends me all over the place, while stressful, satiates that need to be on the road and pacifies the side of me that would be screaming to get out and be on the move.
My boss called me to go over the calendar and see when I was free to work my tee shirt selling gig at conventions.
“I’m only busy one weekend in September,” I stated, eagerly awaiting the options he could give me.
“That’s such a bummer. I really wanted you to go to Australia for me but it falls that weekend you’re already booked. I can send you to Portland though if you want.”
My heart sank. The warm feeling flooded back over me with a rush of memories and nostalgia. Australia was now a realistic possibility. If I had the chance to go back, on someone else’s dime, could I possibly say no?
I spent the next day apologizing to friends and rearranging the trip to Austin that I had planned. Australia was so close to my grasp I could almost touch it, and I even if I had to do some major shuffling around, I had to make it happen.
I remembered landing on the first day I arrived in Sydney, walking through the city in the early hours of the morning before I could check in to my hostel and steadfastly thinking, “There is no doubt in my mind that I’m in the right place and that this was the right choice.”
It wasn’t always an easy road over there. I had plenty of struggles for the duration of my stay. And the decision to get a visa and go came together in the course of about 2-3 months, so there were days when I would wake up wondering what I had gotten myself into for jumping in and not taking the time to think things through.
So now when I look back at my experience with rose colored glasses I have to tell myself it wasn’t always picture perfect. But Australia holds a special place in my heart and I think quite fondly of it. Truth be told I’m nervous to go back.
A lot of my people there have moved to different cities all over the world. Seven years is a long time and accounts for a lot of change—both with me and with the country. I was 22 when I first landed there, fresh out of college, eager to explore. Now I’m 30, jaded and set in my ways.
My love for that country is so genuine, but I keep running through my mind what it will feel like to be back under such different circumstances.
I had plenty of times where I could have gone back, but I figured I’d already been there, and why not go see Greece instead? Or check out the Olympics in London? Or meet up with my old roommate in Portugal? After all, Australia would still be there waiting while I was off gallivanting around like the travel glutton I am.
I know it won’t be the same. So much changes in 7 years, but I can’t think of the last time I was this excited about something. And I feel a sense of vindication that my hard work might actually be paying off.