Sunny (mostly) Perth: Notes On Coming Home

Whenever I imagined Perth when I was away, it was the clear blue sky that came to mind. I would imagine breathing in the crisp, cool air of autumn or spring and raising my face to the endless blue. Perth has a new, fresh feel, atmospherically a world away from cities like Bangkok or Beijing though geographically rather close.

Returning to Perth in September didn’t disappoint. On our first morning I walked down to the unassuming riverfront near my Mum’s house, my 3 year-old niece clutching my hand like no time had passed at all (a certain cuddly toy panda from China may have been instrumental in resuming our relationship).

Whilst I was adjusting to being back, she busied herself with the very important task of plucking flowers from every garden bed along the way, which we placed behind our ears and in our hair.

I marvelled at her ability to be completely immersed in the moment and the task at hand, whilst my head whirled with thoughts about being back, reuniting with my family and our future travel plans.

When we finally reached the foreshore (a ten minute walk with a three-year-old can easily become thirty) I looked out over the old jetty towards the meagre yet growing city skyline. I’d been waiting for that view for some reason, as though confirmation of actually being in Perth.

Before we left Bangkok, it felt very strange to be returning home. We’d existed in a bubble of our own creation for the last six months and were afraid that going home might burst it. Tyrhone joked around before we arrived saying really mean things like, “Well, it’s been fun. Back to work now…” or “I can’t believe it’s all over!” The sort of things we used to say after holidays abroad.

Only this ain’t a holiday. It’s life now, at least for the foreseeable future.

The next day, Tyrhone and I were ‘home alone’ at Mum’s place (she does have a job and was working). Standing over the sink doing the dishes I had a revelation.

“I’ve found my thing,” I said to him through the open French doors into the courtyard.

“I’ve always been looking for it and now I’ve found it.”

I’ve rarely experienced such certainty in my life, and even writing this now evokes all manner of doubt, but I know that in that moment I knew I wanted to travel and write, and that’s it. That’s what I love to do.

Though the last six months have thrown many challenges my way, the journey truly began many months earlier. A conversation had in the middle of mounting bills, clashing expectations and one very strained relationship unsure if it would make the distance. And three very simple but powerful words uttered in complete honesty by my boyfriend.

“I. Don’t. Know.”

The question being answered, simple in its directness but complex in its brevity, “What do you want?”

I surprised myself with how I accepted these words (I mean, not exactly something every girl wants to hear after five years together), because it gave me the opportunity to ask it to myself.

And the answer was surprisingly the same.

And so began the process of narrowing down what we didn’t want:

  • Regret
  • Settling
  • Unfulfilling jobs
  • Huge financial committment
  • Marriage and kids

And to clarify the last one, it was quite a relief to realise that whilst my boyfriend wasn’t keen on the idea, neither was I. So instead of wondering if maybe we weren’t in love enough, I was able to realise that I just wasn’t ready for that life yet. And it was okay for him not be too.

And then what we did want:

  • Each other. We really did love each other.
  • Adventure
  • Freedom
  • To travel the world without a pre-determined time frame.

I knew there was something else I wanted, but couldn’t put my finger on it. Travel was a good place to start though. The idea of selling up to travel the world ignited a spark within me (within us), that lit a fire to power me through accepting a redundancy from my job of eleven years, to selling our home, down to the last donated pair of shoes.

I grappled and struggled with such huge change, but still the fire burned, pushing me onwards.

A month into 0ur adventure, the reality of not having a home to go back to hit me like a tonne of bricks, but very soon the weight of discomfort became the very spring-board of freedom. Not having a home meant being able to make one anywhere. Anywhere we chose.

And that felt good.

And it’s that freedom that buoys me now and makes me bounce out of bed in the morning to face a day of endless opportunities. I’ve never felt so free, so in love with what I’m doing that I have to push back the thoughts that tell me that somehow a life like this isn’t really possible.

Because I choose to believe it is.

Oh, and the thing that I couldn’t put my finger on, was writing. I’d always wanted to be a writer yet always felt I had nothing to write about.

But now I do.

And I love it.

 *******************

And then, a couple of days later, since life likes to throw curve balls, I received sad news that my father had passed away. Not having had much of a relationship with him, it wasn’t the grief of what I’d lost but rather what I’d never had that proved the most crushing.

And it’s knocked me around in a way I didn’t see coming. I guess I’d aways held out hope that he would change, that I’d be able to accept him, that I didn’t need him to say sorry. Given enough time, perhaps I could have found the acceptance that I needed in order to know him. I’d found the love, forgiveness (I think) and compassion that allowed me to love him from a distance, but that was all.

The finality of death always brings things to a head though. The time that we trick ourselves into believing will go on forever has another agenda, one that I know I will never understand. But rather than be angry at it, I have faith that it knows the whole story, whilst I am just a tiny letter in a word on a page in a book in a library of infinite anthologies.

I don’t control the story, just form a small yet vital part along with all the other letters.

And the story we write together is tragic and sad and joyful and miraculous and funny and rude and full of intrigue.

*******************

I read a Hemingway quote on Pinterest (would you believe?!) the other day that read, “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”

Coincidentally, I then read a quote in a book that said, “Living wasn’t what Hemingway did best, we should remember him as a writer.”

I’ve never read Hemingway, reserving my admiration for his long-term lover, adventurer and writer, Martha Gelhorn, but I like the first quote, and I suppose he knew what he was talking about when it came to writing.

Even though I may be ‘bleeding’ a little more than usual right now, I know that it is all part of the life that I am evermore committed to living fully. I won’t ever make it to Hemingway status as a writer, but I do hope that I can live this life I’ve been given to the full. And that means following my heart.

Next, my heart is taking me to Mexico. Whilst I have loved seeing my family and friends, I know that this adventure we’re on is what I’m meant to be doing. It’s taught me so much about myself and the world, brought me closer to the guy I love and made me realise that when my time comes, I won’t be thinking, “I wish I’d made more money or owned more houses,” but “I’m so glad I took the plunge and dared to live my dreams.”

Comments

Sunny (mostly) Perth: Notes On Coming Home — 26 Comments

  1. Hi Sarah, I woukd love to catch up for coffee if you have time before you leave again. My number is 041******.Judy

  2. Hi Sarah
    Living your dreams Is an amazing free feeling. It is interesting Matt and I had a lot of difficulty deciding our next destination and reassessed what we wanted. We really wanted Hawaii so that’s our next destination in October. We struggled a bit with the hows but as always with a little faith we have been provided with many Options within our budget. We too are heading back to perth which shall be an interesting experience. I admire your courage for following your dreams and not following societies expectations. Enjoy Mexico :) Jill

    • Hi Jill! Wow, Hawaii was on the cards for us for a while there too!!! I have loved following your journey, and reading about how you guys have grown and changed. Especially the surfing posts! I bet there will be more of that to come in Hawaii, and I look forward to experiencing it through your eyes. Thanks for your lovely words I wish you all the best in your adventures. Aloha xxx

  3. Hey Sarah, reading your blog has been such an inspiration to me. Firstly to plant the seed in my mind that it is actually possible to pack everything up, travel indefinitely and follow my dreams when I believed it was impossible for me. Secondly your wonderful writing has inspired me to start writing again after fifteen years of being literarily dormant. And thirdly that while adventure stories are great, the ones that you get the most out of both as a reader and a writer are those written from the heart. Thank you for your inspiration and keep those words coming. And I feel certain that I’m not the only other letter in lifes anthology that you’ve inspired. Matt

    • Thank you so much Matt, I have a lump in my throat thanks to that!!! So lovely of you, you guys inspire me too, the words you write leap off the page with joy and I’m so chuffed to be a tiny part of that. Rock on!!!

  4. Hi Sarah,
    I am so excited, I have always wanted to visit Mexico and now you are going to take me with you, I can’t wait to read
    you’re blog.
    Love
    Cassa x

  5. Again Sarah your blog never fails to impress, entertain and inspire me :) I knew you were a strong person when I flew with you back in the day ;) however I never really KNEW the person within! Truly inspirational, ambitious and beyond brave…. Xoxo

    • Thank you so much Kirstin!!! Glad we got to bond over the desire to get out and do something different, I hope your plans for down south are going well. Thanks so much for your support and very kind words… :)

  6. Love that Hemmingway quote, Sarah, and love all that you do here. I always feel most satisifed with the posts that I have written where I feel I have done more than simply document my day or my life, but have actually gone that extra mile and put a part of myself on the page. It makes us vulnerable, but readers can tell when you are being your true self and respond to that most of all! Can’t wait to hear about your next set of adventures!

    • Thank you so much Steph, your journey is also amazing and I feel blessed we’re on it together! It’s much more difficult to write openly, I mean, I’m a big believer in boundaries, and yet words from the heart are what I like to read and get a lot from. Happy travels to you too xxx

  7. I’m always uplifted when I read your posts, even when there is a dose of misfortune or curve balls. I love your honesty.

    I feel I’m on the opposite of the fence- feelings of “i need to figure out a career for myself and prove to myself I can earn a decent living if I want to “afford” having kids,” if/when that time comes. the self pressures. Silly really. These ideas of what we think we’re suppose to do. Meanwhile I’m reminded reading your blog and friends who’ve had the career- that following your heart and living your dreams is most important. The irony.

    I’m so glad you’ve taken the plunge and travel and writing is so fulfilling to you. It’s a great feeling to know what you want. I wish you lots of success as a writer.

    Sorry to hear about your father. The finality is always a bit shocking and death can affect one in a variety of ways. I hope you have your comforts and support wherever you are.

    I look forward to read about your adventures in Mexico!

    • Thank you Lauren, I love reading about your journey and have learned a lot from you. You have a wisdom beyond your years and I know whatever path you take will be wonderful!

  8. HI Sarah, I’m glad you found it! From the very first time I read your post, I knew you were born to be a writer. You’re a great storyteller.
    That part about your father was very powerful. I can feel through your words how difficult it was and thank you for sharing.
    Enjoy the rest of your time home.

    • Thanks Marisol, that’s very sweet of you. Your photographs and travel stories are also wonderful, you are a very talented lady, and I’m sure your talents don’t stop there! Thanks so much for your support, it means a lot to me xxx

  9. Loved this Sarah and so glad we got to meet up, however briefly.
    Thinking of you and sending lots of love and best wishes for your ongoing journey . . .
    Looking forward to Mexico!

  10. I’m just coming home from a vacation and today is my first day back at work. It’s hard to imagine coming home and not thinking, “ugh…here we go again. Back to work.” You’ve gained so much perspective of the world and of life in your travels thus far. Thank you for sharing this lovely post and arranging your letters so beautifully.