18 days. 18 days. 18 days.
It’s strange being in a different mindset to everyone else going on this adventure with me. There are 7 of us in total flying out of Sydney in 18 days, 7 of us taking a crazy 27 hour flight to the other side of the world. And all of us are excited, and I’m pretty sure all of us are a little nervous or anxious or sad, for different reasons.
The last 6 months of my life has really impacted me. A lot of things have happened. I’ve gotten to know a lot more about myself, how capable I am, how strong I am, what I can handle and achieve. Although I’ve gone about my life in 2011 so far in a rather uncharacteristically quiet way, the last 6 months has been full of heartache and joy. Full of love. Full of so many things I can’t begin to describe. 12 months ago when I applied for this program, I had no idea that the start of 2011 would be so life-changing for me. I had no idea that I would have to fight myself to go. And even though I’ve gone about it in my own quiet way (which is not really like me at all), I’ve learnt so much, and I’m struggling to comprehend how I can just leave it all behind.
When I was younger I took a lot of photos. Sometimes I’d come away from a camp, or a holiday, not remembering what I had done, and I’d have to look back through the photos to remind myself. A lot of the time I wasn’t IN the photos, because I’d spent so long trying to capture the photos, to capture the memories, that I wasn’t really in the memory myself.
You’ll notice that lately there haven’t been too many photos on my facebook or twitter, but that’s not because I haven’t been doing things. It’s because instead of taking photos, I’ve been making memories. I’ve been enjoying my time, enjoying the things I’ve been doing, enjoying the company of the people I’ve been doing them with, and instead of being pedantic about ‘recording’ them in pictures, I’ve been recording them in my mind.
This is the first time in recent memory that I can remember change affecting me like this. I remember being excited leaving New Zealand at 14 years old, to move to Australia. I remember being excited to leave Adelaide at 16 to move to Broken Hill. I remember being excited to move to Sydney at 19. I remember being excited to go to the US for 3 months last year.
I guess it’s different this time, because every other time I guess I was probably feeling like I was moving on to something better. But this time I don’t feel like this. It’s not that I am not excited, nor am I happy to be going. I am SO excited to go to my new family in the US and learn about their kids, and experience their life. But I am happy here. I am finally truly happy with the family I am working for. I am happy in my life. I am happy with my friends and the people I surround myself with. And I don’t think I have ever been truly this happy where I am, and now I finally am and I have to leave.
Maybe it was a big decision to make a year ago that I would just pack up my life in a years’ time and go overseas, with not much ability or elasticity to change those plans. Maybe it was silly. But it’s what I’m about to do.
And I’m taking my memories with me. All the good times, all the fun things, the laughs, the smiles, the taunts, pokes, cuddles, fights, phone calls and text messages. All of it. Everything. It’s all in my memory. And when I need to, I can fish around and find whatever it is I need to bring a smile to my face.
And I’m using these last few days, this last handful of time that I can spend with my favourite people, to make more memories. I’ve made a list of the things I want to do before I go, and who I want to do it with. One last lunch with my favourite lunch buddies. One last roast dinner with my mum and family in Broken Hill. One last drive with my Dad. One last visit to the dentist with my sister chairside while I have my cavities drilled and filled. One last gossip session with my high school best friend. One last 5-minute Greek lesson with my Poppy. One last cuddle with my brother as a 2 year old. One last story to read. One last shopping trip to take. One last walk, one last night out, one last car ride, one last cuddle, one last kiss.
I am SO excited to go, don’t get me wrong. I can’t wait to get to my new home with my new host family. I can’t wait to read the great Australian and New Zealand storybooks I have picked out for my new kids. I can’t wait to make new friends, catch up with old friends, go to Walmart, to explore the US a little bit more. I can’t wait for snow and Pop Tarts and Broadway and Starbucks.
I’m just sad about what I’m leaving behind. Much more so than I thought I could ever be, the travelling gypsy that I’ve become. Maybe, just maybe, my heart has found some place it wants to settle down.