The hardest part about living a life of ongoing travel is not the visa red tape. It is not language barriers, or long flights, or even managing finances.
The hardest part, the worst part, the thing I dread…
is saying goodbye.
People asked me how my parents felt, now that I was leaving again. I knew the answer – sad. Gutted even, but with the understanding that living in Australia is what I want to do. Supportive, but disappointed. I think that deep down, they will always wish that it was different – that I wanted to stay in the midwest, buy a house, and have babies – but they know that that’s not me.
But what people don’t tend to ask is how I feel about leaving again. There’s a general assumption that moving to Australia is exciting, all sunshine and kangaroos, beaches and barbecues. Because it’s what I want, I must be looking forward to it.
All of this is true.
Leaving my family was devastating.
I wrote a post about this last year, “When You’re the One Who Leaves,” and I still believe everything I wrote. For me, leaving is the worst part about travel.
Travel is not without its compromises, and the biggest one of all is that I’ll never be that daughter, sister, or friend – the one who lives down the road and you see every other week. And sometimes, that kills me. Of course I want to be that person, but the reality is that I’m not.
I can’t be that person and follow the driving force in me, the one that propelled me back here, to Australia. Wanting to live here, however, does not necessarily mean that I don’t want to be there, with my family.
This time, leaving was harder than it’s ever been. I was in the States for almost three months – the longest I’ve spent on my native shores since 2007. Possibly the longest period I’ll ever spend there again, although Jared and I haven’t ruled out moving there in the future, albeit the distant future.
In the days leading up to our flight, I wasn’t excited. I was sort of gobsmacked, actually, and felt like I’d been bum-rushed by the departure date. I knew I’d have to say goodbye to my parents, again. I’d already said goodbye to my friends and one of my sisters, and that had sucked.
What can you say to someone when you love them and don’t know when you’ll see them again? And worse, because you chose to leave?
My parents took us to the Indianapolis airport. Our flight was delayed, so we ate dinner at Café Patachou. For a little while, I was able to pretend like this wasn’t it, the Big Goodbye, but I knew that it was. You can’t forget something like that.
Our final hugs were painful and upsetting, but necessary. I cried on and off on the plane to LA, realizing that it’s always going to be like this. I’ll be leaving or they’ll be leaving.
I don’t want to live with my parents in Indiana, but I’m glad that I got the opportunity to do it, however briefly. I am happy to be here in Australia, looking forward to setting down roots and establishing a home base.
But it isn’t easy, leaving little parts of your heart all over the world, wishing things could somehow be different. Wishing that following your dreams didn’t mean sacrificing time with your family.
This is the life I’ve chosen. It’s what I want. The sadness will fade into the background, and the stimulation of daily life will come forward.
I once worked with a guy whose personal mantra was “Do the best you can with what you have.” So that’s what we’ll do. It won’t be perfect, but it’ll be as close as we can get it.
Also – now everyone I know has a real good excuse to get on a plane to Australia.
So what the bloody hell are you waiting for?