The International Writers Magazine: I am therefore I travel
Living life by the quarter year
I was at the airport. Again. A year ago I left a little five-month ‘nook’ in Melbourne for the sunshine and relaxation Perth had to offer. I set up camp in Perth, sleeping in my friend’s double bed for the first two weeks.
Every morning I would wake to her face beaming at me, delirious for the new day and the sunshine poking through the curtains. Winter, if you can call it that, was arriving in Western Australia, and despite the still high temperatures in the day (around 24 celcius) it would get very cold at night and we were grateful for the warmth we gave each other. We became incredibly close friends and the bed sharing was something we would continue for the next quarter.
I even met family that I had never encountered before. My cousin, a firm expat and happy as is humanly possible; doing what she loves and encouraging everybody else to do so too.
I found a job, some work on a farm among the red dirt that I had been longing for. I woke to the sound of kookaburras most mornings, which, is an experience the first time. I got very confused. ‘They can’t have monkeys in the outback?!’ I thought to myself.
Days when I wasn’t playing with tractors or electric drills, were spent hanging out on the lazy coast, peppered with white beaches and eating ‘Golden Gaytime’ ice cream. (The perfect ice cream and it’s an outrage they don’t have it anywhere else!) But the ‘mandatory’ three to four month change arrived and I upped sticks once more, in search of greener pastures.
You get the itch, curiosity drives you, the umpteen reasons to move on swim in front of you and the excitement for another adventure builds with the climax of your mouse or purse click. Bus/train/flight/ ticket/ bought. It’s time to move on and it never feels like it’s happening until you’re waiting to depart.
In the departure lounge I have a little funeral for what I’m leaving. The best friend I made, still texting promises of a future same sex marriage, the kind from High School.
“I feel like I’m losing a boyfriend!” she said to me, through tears in her work uniform. I visited her pre-Airport, ashen faced, holding my emotions back. These goodbyes happen too often to allow myself a tear-streaked cheek. Besides, I’m the one who gets to have a new adventure! That said, every time, my heart grows heavy and I wonder if it’ll put me over the baggage allowance.
At the time of writing this, I was in fact on my way to stay at a friend’s house who I met the previous year in New Zealand and was once more showing me her limitless supply of hospitality; only with the knowledge I would have to leave her soon due to factors out of my hands*. She’s just as amazing and generous as every person I met while in Australia, who took me in, fed and sheltered me. My only wish during those times was, IS, to one day re-pay their kindnesses. And that’s not counting the hospitality of seemingly disparate cultures, who put all us Western whiteys to shame.
On the plane a transition occurs: like a caterpillar in a chrysalis. Limbo, acceptance of past in to present and excitement for the future. I do love flying - the rush of being in a giant metal can in the sky (as I’m not an Engineer this process is like witchcraft to me). How does it stay up there?! Take-off is the best part. The engines roar, g-force slams you back in to your seat and your eyes in to your sockets. The whole process is really just a series of onomatopoeic words. ‘Woosh’, ‘whiizzzz’, ‘roooaarrr’, ‘hmmmmm’.
Too many people are unimpressed by travel these days. I’ve noticed this to be a trait of larger countries where families and friends are spread out and internal travel is commonplace. Fly internally in England you say? Ok but the English guilt will catch you at the departure lounge.
It’s not that English people are comparably more conscious of our carbon foot print, it’s just that England’s so small that you can’t justify spending money and time on flights when a train will do the same. It’ll be for about the same price anyway but with less faffing in departure lounges. Unless you’re going particularly far, London to Edinburgh for instance, which is about as far as Melbourne to Sydney. This irony is lost on the average Englishman/woman.
If you fly all the time I’m sure it does start to feel like catching a bus. Tall people get squished in to place, babies seem always to start crying as soon as you leave the ground and you’re just as likely to catch a disease from the air con as if you went in to a hospital and rubbed a sick person on your face. But I still love it. Maybe because I’m still a child, and if I get excited about driving tractors (which I do) then I will forever love the process of fitting in to an aeroplane. Or is it a mechanical bird? Once the first sensations of defying gravity are over, then just a small part of me is waiting to land in anticipation for the next place to see.
By this point I’m usually sat with my nose pressed either up against the window, or the shoulder of the person next to me, attempting to take in the view of endless clouds tinged by a pink sunset in all different hues, twinkling lights of a city below, the patchwork of suburbs and countryside, or the shimmers of rolling seas. Either that or it’s just too bright for words and I close the blind to pay more attention to much neglected block-busters of the last few months.
On arrival, full of tiredness and maybe a bit of trepidation, a new place can be overwhelming. Exhausted, I start again, make new friends, find more work so I don’t end up back home tail between my legs. But this new place is different. It has a unique vibe different to the last. The people smile, laugh and relax in different manners to the last place. Any reasoning to the contrary, to me, is like someone who wont try a new food because they think they wont like it. It’s the same bullshit idea that the ignorant person in a circle of friends may insist, ‘I’m not fussed about going to South East Asia, once you’ve been to one of those countries, you’ve seen them all.’
I must say, to digress for just a moment, I feel sorry for those people, imagine living your whole life convincing yourself you don’t want to go somewhere, being satisfied with just looking at pictures of places, or being too scared to go to them yourself. I haven’t been anywhere quite so vast as Australia, where the in-country culture and geographic differences between cities are so wide. For instance in Melbourne in the winter, you could be in Europe, navigating cold winds, sheets of rain and plummeting temperatures. In Darwin, it’s just dry and hot rather than wet and humid. And that’s before you count the massive range of flora and fauna between just those particular cities. Or to illustrate my point better, in Western Australia alone the colour of the ground varies wildly from south where it stays green for most of the year among the wine valleys and forest coastal lands, and deep crimson red in the deserts and the Kimberley in the north and inland.
||So I land in Brisbane, ready to start the next mini chapter in the book I like to call ‘Lucy impersonates the hungry caterpillar by guzzling as many places as she can’.
I’ve had seven courses (actually counted), served on a straw trilby with a pair of parachute pants and I’m still famished.
Lucy is currently building a website, but you can check out more of Lucy’s work via her Facebook page: www.facebook.com/lucymundayjourno or follow her on twitter @mundayjourney
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