September 4th, 2020
As I sit under the covers in my double bed at my Carp AirBnB, I don't want to ever forget exactly what this feels like. Despite the discomfort, nerves, sadness and longing - I know that it's a special feeling that's going to also fade before I blink twice.
I am all showered and clean, a little overheated because I don't know how to control the water temperature quite yet. I'm wearing my Harry Potter PJ's from Peter Alexander, my sleepy lotion from Lush and my sterling silver moon from "baby anything" (a local jeweler) in Paddo. I'm also tired to the point of exhaustion, wired to the near point of delirium, and so ready for a hopeful twelve maybe ten hours of restful sleep after 24+ spent traveling.
I left Sydney on a rainy Friday morning after breakfast at Silk, almond flat whites and haloumi. I left with a quick hug from Pimm (my beloved barista), lots of tears from Lou and Des, tight squeezes from Sim and Michelle too, and the perfect amount of time and love from Phil -- my fateful fellow expat since college trips in 2010. I climbed into the lifts with Danielle and Becca just to venture down to the parking garage, where Dani had put her new Suburu for the night so that we could stay up late preparing, talking, packing, and crying a little. The night before, I did last minute things like write cards and make a photo collage for James and Rupert. I cuddled my giant Rupert bear, and drank Vuerve, and had dumplings and noodles from my favorite hole in the wall place across the street. I opted out of my all-time favorite gelato -- Messina -- but only because I had boba tea with James that day instead.
My goodbyes on Thursday prior were both sad and anti-climactic. I packed early while Charlee and I sipped coffee from downstairs. I also hugged Liz, cuddled Scarlett and said bye to Wendy on the phone while staring over Coogee beach for the last time in a while. Liz and I had iced lattes while she held Scarlett, and I walked to the edge of the boardwalk's lookout (only to remember doing the same eleven years before, when I had last set eyes on Sydney). Who knew that 2009 would have been my first of two times saying goodbye?
As I sat with Liz and became overwhelmed by the daunting task of departing, I realized one of many lessons - that not only do I not have to do it alone, but that asking for help lets others be more vulnerable and trusting in me right back. Liz told me so in her beautiful handwritten card, but she showed me so when she cried on her couch or let me into her life during hard moments. That morning in Coogee, I sat on her baby blanket and did the same: shedding tears and hyperventilating while Scarlett nursed happily. I gripped the beautiful pink and turquoise mug they gifted me. Liz also got me tall socks that say: Watch out, I'll fucking hug you. I intend to keep those socks forever.
After my quick jaunt over to Coogee, I bid adieu to the girls and the beaches while heading home to transfer luggage to Fedex (and pay the cleaner). Our morning had been productive; the house was ready, my final possessions were on the balcony and James had deconstructed the bed so that I could sleep on it one final time (but so that L could also take it). Though I had wanted him to come over, spend time, help me take it apart and maybe break it down in the process -- I'm confident that everything that happened that afternoon was as it should have been. There were no drawn out goodbyes; no awkward chemistry or latent sparks. I gave him my final love letter in the form of a very brief and casual card - he took his jumper, gave me a hug and texted me Friday to have a "safe flight Xx." Just like these strange feelings tonight, that undeniable crush and love hangover that made my torso ache would soon fade too, slowly crystalizing into a fond and sexy memory.
Tonight i fought my jet lag by chatting with friends & my new landlord Debbie, and by heading to the beach for sunset. I ran back to grab a jacket because the coastal air told me I wouldn't be warm for long. I'm so glad I did -- the ocean breeze off the waves was perfectly comfortable through my breathable sleeves. As I hit the sand and strode toward the tide for firm footing, I felt the ache and a lump surge into my throat as the day closed. I didn't want it to be my last day as abroad down under. Not yet.
The moment I turned west, seeking that sunset on the horizon and wondering if I had made the right decision leaving one coast for another, two dolphins rose out of the water directly in front of me. My heart skipped so audibly that I laughed, swallowed tears and didn't decide -- I knew that they were the sign I hadn't known I was looking for. If I've asked God and the Universe lately to help me know I've made the right decision, She did so immediately and showed me that I won't be alone here. As I walked briskly, listening to my familiar tunes and checking out my new skyline where the sky meets the sea, the dolphin duo kept me company. What were the chances of that?
I think it's normal to feel the sticky discomfort of a new place, a bit of solitude, sadness for what's gone and nervousness for what's to come. Heck, I should know the feeling by now: I've done this a minimum of twice by leaving LA and SF.... more when you count the times away, in strange dorms and hotels and apartments that were not yet mine. Each time, I sit in curiosity and also ritual: praying, listening, watching familiar characters on TV and lathering myself up in my favorite scent. I know that things will more than smell familiar soon.
Until then, I'll forever be abroad in mindset.
Abroad at Heart
Who am I?
I am a girl who loves my island and a girl who loves the sea; it calls me.