As my last days in Sydney dwindle down to single digits, this sweet, magical city has been on its best behaviour. The weather has been nothing less than perfect – warm, balmy nights where diners opt for outdoor seating and people take strolls til 8:30pm and can be seen lingering on beaches well into the night. The last few weeks have seen a slow-burning lethargy building up within me, followed by a manic scramble to fit in catch-ups with as many people as humanly possible. This summer I’ve had many friends re-enter my life and I’ve been showered with so much love and affection that it’s making leaving all the more difficult.
I spent my holiday break riding shinkansens, licking shockingly matcha-green soft serves late at night and eating melt-in-your-mouth-cry-real-tears tender fresh sashimi with 10 other friends during a gorgeous Japanese winter in November; held about four different Christmas parties and ate too much; laughed and cried and fell asleep at 5:30am on Christmas Day with wonderful friends by my side; celebrated a major anniversary milestone with my boyfriend; spent New Years Eve on the beach and greeted the New Year with some of my favourite people.
I grew comfortable moving through airports, sitting in airplanes. I visited my cousin in Perth for the first time and fell in love with the tranquil beaches of the West Coast where the sun would set on the water, so different to the dynamic force and velocity of the waves in Sydney. Perth was all about balance – time slowed down as we spent the whole week unwinding, relaxing, all the while on a schedule that had been planned out down to the hour. I looked and felt different in Perth – more awake and alive. I came home to Sydney with a golden-brown glow, undeniable tan lines, priceless memories and a pocket full of treasured moments immortalised in Polaroid photos.
I liked Perth but loved being home, even if many of my closest friends were away on a South-East Asia adventure. I was comfortable and warm in a familiar set of arms; was accustomed to familiar sights and smells and routines. I spent more and more time at the beach and was glad to be running around on the footy field again. I re-connected with some old friends – I hadn’t laughed until I cried in such a long time – and fell in love with them all over again.
Drama had a way of finding me and all my friends. We had what seemed like the same conversation countless times. I had arguments and made up again, and argued some more and finally a dangerously comfortable pattern started to become more dangerous than comfortable and the arguing stopped. Actually, everything stopped for a while. My friends came to see me, tried to feed me and slowly my appetite – both for food and for life – came back. Plans for the future were crossed out, reservations were cancelled and new ones were made. I kept visiting the beach, found solace in Sydney’s heartbreakingly picturesque weather, counting down the days until I wouldn’t be able to do so again. To my relief, much of the drama seemed to be settling down.
Many good friendships I already had became even better, and I swallowed in my surroundings and my loved ones as though I could breathe them in and hold my breath for ever. Ordinary scenes became beautiful; walking home from the train station at sunset was a treat, nothing less than a blessing. Everything seems much more precious when you have to leave for (what currently appears to be) a significant amount of time. I opened my home to my friends, and for a period of time it seemed as though they were over ever single day. My heart, like my living room, felt full – most of the time.
My relationship ended, and in the same week a new one between two of my good friends started. For a while, happiness always seemed to be tinged with sadness, a kind of grieving. I received more love than I deserved – I kissed good friends on the lips, grabbed butts and cuddled platonically. I spent too many anxious hours on a birthday outfit and fretted about my makeup in real-time but it all worked out well and I felt silly for worrying. My friends spoiled me rotten on my birthday with gifts and thoughts and I felt a kind of hollowness within me – I was utterly undeserving of so much of their love. I took gifts home, read the cards but refused to open all the presents.
I lost my initial fear of moving away from all my friends and started to grow more and more excited about China as time wore on. I managed to tentatively convince myself I wouldn’t be leaving anything behind, only gaining (but hopefully not kilos). I googled my host city and felt ready and prepared to love a new one. The love I was receiving only made my heart bigger, even though sometimes I felt like I wanted to close off and protect what I already had. The concept of tomorrows was both exciting and off-putting; certain things I looked forward to and others I didn’t. I spent a lot of time trying to deal with emotions at war with one another but always accepted how I felt, which made it easier.
I realise that tend to deal with change how I deal with wading into the sea – unwilling at first, but a happy fish in the water once I’m fully immersed. Truth be told, I’m terrified of the future, but the joy I have in my life right now is overriding that by far.
tl;dr: did a lot of shit during the summer, broke up with my boyfriend but my mates are top lads so it’s gonna be ok, pretty much ready to f!@# shit up in china and stuff myself w dumplings
P.S. To Juliana and Winnie who are flying out tomorrow (eep!!!!), all the best and see you in Shanghai! xo