Coming Home. Capital C. Capital H.
This particular concept that I consciously delayed for months is lovely. Melbourne is stinking hot. Accio-pool,-aircon-on-like-a-Mariah-video,-lather-the-DO-type hot. My brother got cool: he puts potions in his hair and wears ironic tees. My parents remain as awesome and gorgeous as ever. My friends, as always, have my heart. Mum’s cooking should be Michelin starred. And my new niece? Well, she’s already a thousand times more beautiful than Paris.
Still, it’s no understatement to admit that I am currently waist-deep in what is commonly referred to as PTD: Post Travel Depression. Official definition: the post-vacation blues. A mood some experience after a lengthy trip. Tiredness, boredom and feelings of nostalgia is common. That is to say, the mundane routine of life has caught up with me- university expectations, job searching, the 201 bus- and I already dream of finding higher ground abroad; of returning to that rickety rowboat on dream-like Lake Bled. I’m not going to lie. I put off writing this final post for an age. I didn’t want to face that this blog is over. That this adventure is over. Ended. Finito. Dunzo.
When catching up with old pals and new acquaintances; how do you express the wonder of your overseas travels in a short conversation? You can’t. Case closed. ”How was the trip?” “Great!” “Favourite place?” “Too many, can’t say!” has to suffice. You don’t want to bore people with endless stories. You don’t want to rub it in the faces. To be brutally honest, you’re pretty sure they’re not actually even that super keen to listen. How do you tell somebody over a coffee that the past 8 months have changed your life and you’re scared that now nothing will ever compare? Visiting some of the most unique cultures and jaw-droppingly stunning sights of the world alongside selfishly hoarding so much time to ponder my existence, I went in to this sure that by February 22, it would all be figured out. But just like Vicky from Vicky Cristina Barcelona, I came back from my adventures certain only of what I didn’t want.
It seems ludicrous to end this with a top ten list of my favourite places. This isn’t a Lonely Planet guide. For some reason, it’s not so much specific locations but certain feelings that I will always cherish. Gasping at the hundreds of mosques in Istanbul, and hearing the call to prayer echo on a rooftop overlooking the Marmara Sea. Visiting the bombed remains of Belgrade’s state library, hours after sleeping on the creepiest night train. Dreaming of Scott Fitzgerald and Louis XVI in class at Sciences Po after a leisurely walk in the Marais, a huge nerdy grin on my face. Exhilarated beyond comprehension at New York’s ‘Sleep No More’. Dancing on Michael’s shoulders to Paolo Nutini at Budapest’s Sziget festival, my spirits higher than the fairy lights on the trees above. Nearly crying with admiration at Cordoba’s Mezquita. Definitely crying at Berlin’s Checkpoint Charlie. Celebrating New Year at Hogmanay. The pasta in Rome. Berthillon’s raspberry gelato. Porto’s port. That moment of bone-chilling frost arriving in Krakow and Montreal. Skiing with Michael down the world-class slopes of Banff. Exploring the gardens of Giverny, clothed in dappled light, with some of the most interesting and inspiring women I’ve ever met in my life. Most of all, just while walking to uni- be it past Notre Dame or past a Monoprix supermarket- it was a pride I’ve never really felt before. Not a boasting sentiment by any means, but a quiet feeling of self-worth. That self-help book style moment of inner confidence knowing that this is good- that you’re really living. Okay, sorry. Pass the bucket. Stepping into get-a-grip preachy here. Slap me into shape, will ya?!
Everybody has an opinion on Paris. Whether you’ve visited for a year or for one Contiki day, everyone tells you to do this, to do that, to go here, to skip there… it’s overwhelming. Mum oohed and aahed over living on Ile-St Louis (ok, so I did too). Dad expected me to become a fromage connaisseur. Michael wanted to see the Louvre. My best galpals just made me watch ‘Taken’. At the end of it all, Paree is a dirty, bustling city. It’s not student-friendly, wallet-friendly or even super tourist-friendly (okay, let’s face it. Unless you stumble upon the elusive rosy-cheeked market goer, it’s not friendly at all). Too long in the center and sometimes this ginormous groaning metropolis can swallow you up. Regardless, I miss Paris everyday. The carousel at Abbesses. The love locks on Ile de la Cite. Sunday’s ritual Bastille market. The ritzy high-flyers waltzing down Boulevard St Germain. The wallabies at the Jardin des Plantes. The petit enfants on scooters in the Marais. I love Paris because it is everything to everyone and anyone. It’s the searching lights of the Eiffel Tower, it’s the zing in a particularly tasty wine, it’s Carla Bruni in Vogue. But to me, Paris is stepping out of the Cite metro at midnight after an evening of homemade carrot soup, fresh baguette and future travel planning with my gals in Republique, passing Notre Dame- completely deserted and dimly lit but for a few revellers’ cigarette butts- continuing on over the bridge to Ile-St-Louis, where an old man without his two front teeth is joyously playing the accordion to the ducks in the Seine down below.
I come home from this trip with a mismatched slab of new clothes, a patch-covered backpack, a very empty bank account, and a croissant-pillowed tummy. I come home with friendships from beautiful individuals all over the globe, more photos than Facebook can deal with, and with, somehow (!!) my relationship with Michael still very much intact (haha). But most of all, as corny as it sounds, I return knowing that home is no longer a place or a concept- it’s the people you love.
I hope to travel far and wide for the rest of my life. Living is about adventures and the surface has only just been scraped. I’m so lucky to have visited so many countries, and this thirst for wanderlust is only greatening. But, as Henry Miller famously wrote, “one’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.” And for now and for always, my heart lies with Melbourne. It deserves to be loved and marvelled at just as much as any other city on Earth. I can’t wait to live Melbourne the way I lived Paris- fully and freely and fearlessly. And you know what? It too deserves its own blog.