Well, I did it.
I boxed up nearly all of my possessions, donated a large portion of my clothes and stored the rest for winter and my eventual return home, took two weeks to say goodbye to everyone I know, and got on the plane.
Putting it that way makes it seem like it was easy. To be honest, I’m not sure if it was easy and I knew what I was doing or if I put my mind and emotions on autopilot to make room for the unknown. October may have been the most emotionally trying month of my life. I had to say goodbye to a very special woman in my life who left us quite suddenly. The weeks I spent between her passing and me leaving were filled with putting as much effort as possible into savoring the life I live and the people in it. I interviewed each one of my mom’s siblings individually as part of a personal video project I’ll be working on for the next year or so. I stuffed myself on so many goodbye lunches, dinners, and drinks that I almost hoped they didn’t have any food in Australia. I took Lacey, the pug I love quite unconditionally, for many walks and we explored parts of my parents’ property that we had never seen before. I watched the World Series with my dad and started to like baseball for the first time ever. I bundled up against the cold to help my mom feed her horses at night. I spent time hanging out with my 16 year-old brother, watching the new Walking Dead episodes every week, screaming and squirming right beside him.
I lived life harder.
I burst into tears as I said goodbye to Lacey the morning I left. And again when my mom and her friends walked me to the security line in Boise. It was like ripping off a bandaid. I had made my decision and I had to go for it. I couldn’t not do it.
I got on the plane.
A high school friend picked me up in Los Angeles for dinner during my layover. We went to a restaurant in Manhattan Beach and I met his girlfriend for the first time. After dinner we walked to the pier and it was incredibly surreal to remember the last time I had seen the Pacific ocean months ago I and how I felt I was going home to the wrong side of it and had actually burst into tears mid-flight. And that night I was flying back to the correct side to be next to the person I belonged with.
After a one-hour delay in our departure from LAX due to having to switch to a smaller plane last minute, and a semi-torturous 15 hour flight that I mostly slept through, I arrived in Melbourne on a breezy, cool sunny spring morning. I couldn’t turn around and run back home. Partly because I sure as hell didn’t want to endure another 24 hours of travel but mostly because I was at peace with where I was. I had flown the nest in a very big way and landed exactly where I was supposed to be.
In the ten or so years we’ve known each other, Dale and I had never done particularly well in life if we had fallen out of touch. I can’t help but wonder if October might have been better if he had been around but the moment I saw him at the arrivals gate made everything worth it. All of the goodbyes and the tears. The fears vanished. I was back in Australia but more importantly finally back with him and ready to start our new adventures together.