Well I’ve done it.
After talking about it for the last few months, I’ve finally given up the idea of getting another job any time soon and decided to get on a plane instead. While throwing it all in and heading to the airport isn’t exactly a unique experience for me (see: 1998, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2005, 2008), this time it’s different. This time, it’s not a great way of getting away from a place that I no longer want to live.
Instead, it’s a convenient excuse to take an extended break from a place that I have really come to love (Melbourne in general, and my neighbourhood in particular) and have every intention of returning to. I don’t know whether this difference is the reason, or whether it’s just the usual pre-travel jitters, but whatever it is I’ve been feeling the fear from the minute that I made this choice.
Stomach cramps? Check. Vague nausea? Check. Sleeping badly? Check, although that’s hardly unusual. There’s no doubt about it, I’m a walking, talking textbook case of the physiological symptoms of stress. I’m doing all of the things that I usually do in this situation despite knowing better.
Making a big long list of all the important things to think about, and then not doing any of them. Procrastinating ‘flicking the switch’ – in this case, walking down to the rental agency and handing in my lease termination. Spending hours researching all of the fantastic places that I’d like to go to, but with a strange sense of detachment – almost like I’m checking out these places on behalf of somebody else. It’s really quite bizarre.
But here’s the thing. Despite all the above, despite not wanting to give up my great apartment and risk not being able to move back into this neighbourhood when I return, despite not wanting to strain the friendships that I’ve worked hard to create and maintain since moving here, despite knowing that I’m going to miss my family and worrying that my little nephew will forget what I even look like … despite all of that, I know that I’m going to do it anyway. In a few weeks time, I’ll be at the airport, passport in hand and emotions going through the roof.
Why? Because travel is an addiction, and like all addictions it needs to be fed regularly. Because I know that once I’m on the plane most of the worries and concerns that I had will melt away, probably in a haze of the warm Heineken that seems to be an airline staple. And most of all, because I know that travelling is an experience that can’t be replicated any other way, that makes me a better person for doing it and that will ultimately revitalise and inspire me for when I do return in a few months time. I love my life in this city, but I need my life on the road to make it complete.
There will still be plenty of doubts – am I really doing the right thing? Can I travel solo for months successfully, having not done it for anything like that length of time in the past? Will these few months of awesomeness make returning to the ‘real world’ just that much harder when I get back? I don’t have the answers to these questions – and I guess that’s the point.
Life thus far has seemed to be about pushing my boundaries and learning what I’m capable of, accepting the risk of failure as part of the journey towards something even bigger and brighter. I know of no better way of doing this than with a pack on my back, and ultimately I suppose that I’d rather have a more challenging life where I’m often feeling uncomfortable, than wallow contently within my comfort zone and never really live at all.
So that’s it. South East Asia and Europe, here I come. Melbourne, this isn’t goodbye, merely adieu. I’ll sure miss you when I’m gone, but will have plenty of great stories to tell you when I return, I promise. See you soon!
If you’re going to be in SE Asia in June / July / August, or Europe in August / September and want to catch up for a beer and to make up tall tales, let me know!