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:
- 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.
- 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.”