It’s been 4 weeks – a month – since I landed back in Australia.
And yet it doesn’t feel like I have stopped travelling.
For starters, getting home was a travel mission itself with two stopovers and 38 hours between leaving my Spanish family and returning to my own (I feel like this may just be the most relatable thing about travel).
I’ve concluded it makes sense to see Australia as the youngest child, so free and fun and wild she is and also so darn far away from her Mother, England.
But at about hour 33, I started to get rumblings of familiarity as I loaded onto my flight out of Denpasar and ran into an old work colleague who’d been in Bali vacationing with his family.
Okay, it was more a smack in the face – my old workplace, my routines, working 9-5 – hit me with full force.
Not to mention being surrounded by people who actually spoke English as their first language, and more specifically, North Queensland English (it’s another language, trust me).
Did it feel good?
Not particularly. But that could’ve had more to do with no sleep and my body begrudgingly getting reacquainted with sweat and humidity.
Eventually, I made it through customs in Townsville and there they were: my mother, father and younger sister.
Time slowed. Music seemed to play. It was so…how do I put it…it was so…
Common. Normal. Blah.
I felt more than thought ‘Oh, I’m home. There they are, just as they’ve always been.’
Don’t get me wrong, it was lovely to see them (and nice to hear some music in the Townsville Airport).
But, it seemed so strange to just be thrust like that back into ‘reality’ or ‘normal’.
Even after 38 hours of making my way through airport security after airport security, eating my way through carrier-provided meal after meal, it felt sudden to be back.
Time had seemed to suspend itself from the moment I left four months beforehand, let me dilly and dally overseas, and then catapulted me back to the exact moment I left.
I had definitely missed home and the people there, but seeing them, I have to admit, was a bit anti-climactic.
Not in an ‘I don’t want to be here, I didn’t miss you, Get gone’ kind of way.
It just seemed weird for there to be fanfare about my return because, all of a sudden, it felt like I never left.
But, I pushed that feeling and the thought of a long cold shower, fresh clothes, and unsocked feet to the back of my mind to try and be present for my welcoming home.
At least I tried. It was difficult not to feel the weight of readjusting and returning to normal conversation – the day-to-day annoyances, the rundown on where everyone is and what they are doing and all those things I had kind of opted out of by way of living in a different time zone.
It was weird. A kind of out-of-body experience – me, an alien working out how to breathe in this new atmosphere.
Over the next week though, I slowly grew back into my body while also maintaining my travel persona, covering more than 2000km to events.
I got to see people I hadn’t seen since even months before I left. I got to see my baby niece smile in person. I got to see and do the things I had been missing.
Meanwhile, I maintained some part in the life of my Spanish family, emailing daily to update each other on what we were doing, figuring out the time of day there and thinking what I’d be doing.
Then that slowly stopped.
Now, a month later, it feels crazy to think I ever left.
Everything is the same, but at the same time, it is all different.
I am different.
And some days it can be lonely. I get frustrated with the issues that seem to just be recurring day after day, year after year here when I know how many lives can be lived in a short space of time if you let in the new and let go of the past.
When you let go of fear and embrace curiosity.
It’s also hard to see ‘returning home’ and my feelings about that with any clarity as I leave again in two weeks for another adventure.
The great news about leaving again so soon is I get to soak up all the goodness of being home and jump back out of all the heavy and bad bits again.
I’ve remembered what’s important to me, and what isn’t; what is a shiny spoon and what just looks shiny from a distance but is covered with grime up close.
I think returning home, like travel, offers it’s own very important and exciting opportunity for learning and growth.
And, I’m excited that I get to do both again very soon.