I write from the warmth of my bed in South Africa, my final temporary home before returning stateside, the result of a jetlag I cannot seem to overcome. After walking into the living room to look for my kindle and accidentally setting the alarm off, waking up my sleepy cousins, the realization that ‘this is Africa’ has finally hit me. Australia is over, and I think it’s time to write my conclusion.
I left on Monday, July 14. It was weird going back to Sydney when none of my friends were there to hang out with, but I wasn’t really sad until I got to the airport and I checked my bags. After some last minute gift shopping, I stood at the window for a long time to watch the planes prepare for takeoff and land anew. They were the wings that brought me so easily to this faraway continent, and were just as easily going to whisk me away, and I was hating that I had to go. I didn’t want to leave the place I had so naturally been able to make my home. And as Mer’s and Christina’s best song was, well, their farewell song, I put it on repeat and filled my ears with it.
“Where does the good go?” ask Sarah and Tegan. It’s with us always in our memories, photos, and trinkets. The things that we keep not because we like carting crap around the world, but because of the things they remind us of, like playing cards and drinking beer in Westport, NZ. Or driving down the Great Ocean Road with music blaring from our phones because we forgot to buy proper speakers. Or dressing up for the symphony at the Opera House. These are the good things from my five beautiful months in Sydney, and they will go with me always.
The wings that brought me to Australia gave me wings to simply be, and it was wonderfully refreshing. I can now take flight on my own, and that freedom should be even better. It’s not that I’ve become a completely new person, no. The idea that that’s what happens when you go abroad is too extreme. Instead, I was in a place where no one knew me and the lack of judgment was invigorating. I don’t think I realized how conscientious I was until I didn’t have to be anymore. Until I could literally chose everything I wanted to portray about myself, the stupid and funny stuff that makes a foundation for solid friendships, and just not care. It was nothing new…it was just the stuff that was usually reserved for my closest friends. But I learned to put most of it out there from the get-go, and it made meeting people a whole lot more interesting. And so the idea of reintegrating back home is a bit daunting and a bit exciting all at once, but I’ll deal with that when I get there. Right now, I have to make the most of being back in SA for a month, and the rest will follow.