well, my adidas were a HIT. it was a monday night. i casually stumbled upon (after extensive research) this super trendy cocktail bar (the bar is literally called “this must be the place”) wearing my REI pack, sweaty tank, and—dare i even mention it—leggings. luckily there were only two other people in the place (the one that this must be), so they were forced to talk to what the cat had just dragged in. they asked me how i heard about the bar, and when i told them “i think i actually just googled ‘coolest bar in sydney’,” it was as though i had cracked the magic code. suddenly i was their new best friend and was invited to join them for the rest of the evening. these two fellows happen to be well-known characters of the sydney bar and restaurant scene, and they decided to give me a tour of the secret bars, those places that are completely unmarked and require a special knock to be let in by a large man (they probably aren’t secret at all and i definitely made up the special knock bit) and then you walk in and everyone knows who you are and you’re immediately served multiple rounds, on the house. then at midnight you’re craving thai and the best thai restaurant stays open for you and brings you the chef’s selection of dishes. like what. all of this actually happened. i’m pretty sure. it was straight out of that scene from goodfellas. who was a celebrity in sydney for a night (kind of, not really)?? THIS GIRL! it was probably the coolest i will ever feel in my entire life. in my adidas. i really need some better shoes.
after many sydney shenanigans, i decided against the camping trip. i needed to go home, and dorothy welcomed me with open arms back in brisbane.
but first, the day i missed my flight because i decided to walk to the airport. that’s right, WALK. i had heard that there was a cheaper way to get to sydney airport rather than take the train straight into the terminal. i thought, hey sure, i’ll happily walk a bit to save ten dollars! saving money is a great thing! yeah! so i took a train that stops outside of the airport. google maps said the walk to the airport was 15 minutes. ha! i walk 15 minutes in my sleep. this will be great. the pleasant “15-minute walk” was to the international terminal. not the domestic terminal. as the 15-minute walk turned into a 30-minute one, it quickly turned into a run. in my sandals, with my pack, and my sweater, and my other small pack, and my water bottle in hand. this run turned into a sprint. tried hitching rides but the AIRPORT isn’t exactly a place where there are nice little spots to pull over on the side of the road and people are generally DRIVING to catch their FLIGHTS like SANE PEOPLE. i finally arrived. completely drenched in sweat, exactly 30 minutes before departure. the first thing i see is a sign that says “as of august 3, 2015, check-in for all qantas flights closes 30 minutes before departure.” they closed check-in the minute i arrived and would not make an exception. i was too late. $107 rebooking fee. i ran to the bathroom to cry. i splashed some water on my face, only to learn that this is one of those bathrooms that only has hand dryers. faces do not fit into the dyson hand dryer, in case you were wondering. the best part is, i was the only person in line at security, so i got to the gate in time to watch my original flight not only take off but also BOARD. my flight. the one i “missed.” i actually laughed and waved maniacally to my would-have-been fellow passengers. after all of this, i recovered surprisingly quickly. i got a sandwich (my new cure-all) and was happily reading my book in no time. so i’m dumb. and too thrifty. and i make mistakes. but i can forgive myself. and i don’t regret walking to the sydney airport. because now that i’ve learned my lesson, i can share it with the world: NEVER walk to the airport. just don’t do it. just. don’t.
so now i’m back with dorothy. home. i have never before realized the value of home as i have in these past six weeks. the comfort of being surrounded by the same familiar things—to see my shoes lined up under the desk, to recognize the way the light scatters on my bed in the morning, to know there is someone waiting for me to get up and have tea with her. this is a safe place, a place where i am not a burden, a place where i can be myself. in this past week i’ve built up a tiny little life and routine in brisbane, and i’ve almost been convinced to stay. i’ve met so many good people whom i don’t want to leave. i’m starting to see that traveling is way more about the people than the places. the birdwatching camp, for example. the flattest place on earth. nothing but cows and sleepy little towns. i’m yawning just thinking about it. but those gosh darn birdwatchers were really something special. the other day, dorothy and i visited some historical museum in tambourine mountain (top 10 sights of australia, let me tell you), and i listened to an 88-year-old man play piano in such a sad, honest way that i nearly cried. in sydney, a complete stranger bought me breakfast for no reason. a beautiful dutch girl that i had only known for a few days waited for my bus with me and stayed waiting long after i had boarded, just to make sure it departed smoothly. i don’t need breathtaking scenery to be blown away by this world. just some real, raw humanity. and it’s a lot easier to find if you look for it. but looking for it isn’t easy. does that make sense? (although if those humans happen to be in breathtaking scenery, even better, amirite?)
i’ve booked a flight to new zealand on tuesday, and i’m dreading it. said no one, ever. you probably can’t understand that. of course i want to go, i’ve always wanted to go, but continually going to new places is so terrifying for me. every place i have left, i have not wanted to leave, and i think it’s because i’m afraid of what’s next. i am living in constant fear of the unknown. i consume myself with the what-ifs. what if i don’t meet people? what if i feel lonely? what if i get robbed (my shoe collection is clearly quite valuable)? what if what happened that one time happens again? what if i don’t know what to do or where to go? what if i make mistakes? this fear is exactly what i am trying to embrace. i am trying to rid myself of unnecessary attachments to the past and anxieties about the future. i am trying to get to the point where, during a yoga class, instead of screaming obscenities in my mind at the person who is telling me to “lean into the discomfort,” i am running wholeheartedly into it. this is not a vacation. this is not a “year off.” sure, i’ll be tagged in photos with new friends and in awesome places (woe is me). but this is perhaps the most difficult time of my life, even harder than losing my dad. because i am forcing myself to learn a new way of being. i am actively throwing myself to the wolves. every day, i am dragging myself outside of my comfort zone, stumbling, beating myself up, questioning my decisions, and then trying with all my might to pat myself on the back despite my blunders and imperfections. it’s funny because i thought this whole traveling thing was supposed to be, like, i don’t know, fun?
somehow, it still is.