Usually I feel reflective, nostalgic or philosophical when I find myself at the airport ready to begin another chapter. I felt happy and enthused, but not ready to delve into deep, complicated thoughts about life and what the future has in store. All I could focus on was getting myself fed, while I stared out the window after passing through a relatively painless customs and security check. I had a small scissor with my old moleskin from the PCT buried inside my backpack, and when the woman identified me as the owner, she sighed and remarked sarcastically, ‘these are my favourite types of bags’. I think she actually felt bad unravelling all my carefully packed contents, scrutinising my sawyer squeeze water filter, tent, and hiking clothes, before having to dig even deeper for the zip-locked culprit.
Just before I left Abu Dhabi, I felt an enormous pull to go back to Australia. Within these few weeks, I shared so much with the people that mean the most to me, I can’t even imagine not being here during this time. I celebrated new life, old life, and the completion of life. I became closer to close friends, and I was able to share joyful and important moments with my family.
Perhaps that’s why there wasn’t room for grand philosophies after I said goodbye to my parents at the international terminal in Sydney. I was feeling a little sad to leave. But in 14 hours and 9 minutes I’ll be standing on the ground in a new hemisphere (two actually according to Fuller – the Northern and Western!) and life will continue under a new setting, the way it always does.
One of my best friends commented on this visit that I seemed more comfortable being me. No more Googling true love or the meaning of life. I think she’s right. I’ve never felt so comfortable in my own skin and so sure of where my life is heading. Somehow I feel older and more weighted, like gravity is holding me down with a firmer grip and I have a more stable footing on this earth. It feels good when you’re happy being you. Satisfied with your shortcomings and able to appreciate the better sides of yourself.
If this chapter goes to plan, I won’t be dragging around my home in a suitcase for at least a few months. I can unpack, settle in, and feather my nest for a while; then reassess. One step at a time. Another lesson from the trail. As long as you’re moving forward, you’ll eventually reach your destination, and in many respects the stars have already begun to align. I said to a friend yesterday that I feel like I’m slipstreaming life at the moment, swimming with the tide instead of against it. I’ve narrowed down my goals and options for the year, so it feels easier to make the right decisions. I’m looking for a place to rent within a small radius of blocks, and I’ve applied for just one job. I’ll continue moving forward until I’ve secured both, or until a second option is a must. Then the rest will be a surprise.
A lot of people at this time of the year will be setting off on their epic adventure along the PCT. Wild is screening on the plane, but I promised a close friend we would watch it together, so I’m still waiting patiently to see the movie. I’ve heard mixed reviews, but the main reason I want to watch it is to see the trail again. I have a tendency to watch other people’s screens when flying, taking in snippets of movies in silence. That way I don’t have to commit to my own selection, and I can tune in and out of the film without spoiling the whole movie. The woman next to me however has just switched on Wild, so I’ve covered my right eye with my bandana while I write, stopping my eyes from straying to watch.
It’s funny how often I get onto a plane without really contemplating the reality of flying. It’s not until about half way through that I realise just how insane the concept actually is. Climbing inside a huge metallic bird that soars you to another destination in a matter of hours. You sit in a chair, most of the time in darkness, doing everything in your power to distract you from the fact that you’re thousands of feet in the air; movies, music, reading or sleeping. Then the lights come on, you eat a meal, the plane lands, everyone stands up, you walk off the plane, and just like that you’re in another country.
This will be my reality in about 13.5 hours, so I’ve got plenty of time to watch my silent movies and delve into those deep philosophies should I choose. Then just like magic, I’ll be walking off the plane in a new setting, and life will start again.