Reflections on Melbourne – A Year LaterMelbourne, Fall 2009
It has been nearly eight months since I departed Melbourne Tullamarine Airport, my cheeks glistening with tears, sitting next to a man who patted my shoulder and told me not to cry, that I would be back. I knew I would, but I wanted to ask him how he could be so sure. He didn’t know anything about me, yet he could sense that in so many ways I was leaving myself behind. I see now that he was blessed with the wisdom that in one way or another, all strangers seem to share. I think of Australia often, if your definition of often is constantly. Living there challenged me to courageousness and broadened my view of the world, as well as my place in it. I still take four-minute showers because Victoria’s decade-long draught put me in the habit of doing so. This year I celebrated the election of Julia Gillard, Australia’s first-ever female prime minister. I thought of the soldiers at Gallipoli on ANZAC Day. My year in Melbourne was not only the greatest of my life, but likely the best and most important decision I will ever make. I am not the same person who touched down in Victoria the day after the worst bushfires in the country’s history. Being on my own so far from anything beloved and familiar was a lesson in shedding baggage and learning to say goodbye. It was a lesson I desperately needed, one that can’t be taught in any classroom, one that I could only teach myself. Most of my plans for the future are far from concrete, but one is definite: I am moving back to Melbourne. It probably won’t be my permanent arrangement, but I am too in-love with the city, too influenced by its trams and cafes, by the country’s snaking ocean roads and endless desert and pastureland, to accept the southern hemisphere as simply a one-time home. Naturally with my student loans to repay and my work visa to secure, I’m not prepared to move immediately. I have set a goal of three years. Three years from now I will be on a plane heading south, smiling to myself and wishing my seatmate were there with me so I could tell him that he was right, and that I am going back home.
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