And then, just like that, my time in Australia was over.
One year ago today, I left Oslo with 29.8 kilos of my life in “Big Blue,” my massive, loyal [and expensive] suitcase. My heart beat so hard that my cheeks thumped with the aftershocks. I had put a lot at stake in investing financially and otherwise into an education in Australia–what if I had made the wrong decision? Alas, I had always wanted to live in Australia. My lonely bachelor’s degree in sociology was getting me nowhere that I wanted to be. I had, however, always loved writing, bringing people together, and hearing their stories. The light-bulb moment arrived, and it was time to act on it! I had no responsibilities, nothing to tie me down–I did not even own a mattress. Now was the time to go!
So I set off with tears in my eyes saying good bye to the friends and the lifestyle I loved dearly in Oslo. It would still be a long time before I could make it home to the U.S., but it was a sacrifice I had to make if I was going to pursue that looming goal, just two semesters in the making.
January 29th was a warm, steamy summer’s day. I arrived at my AirBnb room whose A/C was struggling to keep up with the summer’s pressure. As I hauled my carry-on bags up the stairs in that house, I felt it all (as Feist might say). I felt alone, brave, scared, stupid, adventurous, and EXCITED, all at once.
Eventually settling in a studio flat downtown, I quickly felt myself come alive again, thawing rapidly from so many winters up North. My skin screamed in the strong Australian sun and protested by turning red immediately. I relished trips out the country and to other states in order to let my soul breathe–sometimes, Melbourne was just too full of concrete for this country girl. I pretended my farmer’s market WAS a farm, lugging home $5 boxes of fresh zucchinis, apples, and farm fresh eggs. I lamented daily about hipsters, Tony Abbott, and Woolies. I had gone native, Melbourne-style. I tried to soak in as much as possible, but that only made time fly quicker. Suddenly, I was all out of time.
By January 2015, my skin was sun-kissed and my feet were cracking from walking barefoot so much. I had a degree in my hands, with proud, strong grades despite every curve ball the year threw at me. I was broke, and it was time to find a “real” job. My student visa was running out, and my ticket was return to Oslo.
I write the title with skepticism. Inspired by Forrest Gump, I feel like all of sudden, the day came where I just dropped my shoulders and thought “Well, I made it this far. Might as well turn around and keep going.” A return is inevitable but its capacity and duration remain a project for the gods to deal with. 2014 is hands-down the year I cried the most, learned the most, laughed the most, felt the most. I love both cities and people in them. That’s all I can really say about The Future.
Your support, your letters, your likes and emails and Skype…. it has meant so incredibly much to me. You have been on this journey with me the whole way. You walked with me through a eucalyptus forest. I had you mind when I listened to the koala’s growl in the night. When I drank Little Creatures beer I thought “Yeah, you’d like this.” Thank you, thank you! I’m so happy you joined me.