Going Home

Posted by JSYL on Friday, August 01, 2008 in , ,
I think I'd been preparing to go home since the day I left it.

(Taken on the flight from Rome to London. Couldn't resist.)

It was a New Year's Eve flight,and I was heading for Sydney airport just as everyone else was heading to various grassy spots and hotel rooms and swanky clubs to wait for the fireworks over the Harbour Bridge, everyone to get drunk like never before, and...oh yeah, the new year to arrive at midnight.

The thing about long flights is, no matter how much you're looking forward to getting to your destination, you always feel like just giving up, turning around and crawling back into bed about halfway through. Unless you're one of those crazy people who likes to fly, or can afford to fly Business class. (Bastards :P)After about 11 hours of waiting for some kind air steward(ess) to announce it was midnight I realised the lights weren't going to come on, and that there were no party poppers, champagne glasses or funny hats to be had, and slept the remaining 13 hours of my journey.

All that sleep somehow renewed my excitement for all things London and Europe and Not Home, though. The pilot cracked the first joke (of many to come during my trip) about London's reputation for dreary weather when announcing the temperature, and said, "Welcome to London." [Side note: I've noticed that that sentence, 'Welcome to London' is never ever followed by an exclamation mark. Always a statement, much like "The sky is blue", "Grass is green", or "We're all going to die from global warming". And not once have I ever heard it said after anything remotely positive, like: "You can't get music like THIS in Sydney- Welcome to London!" It's more like an apology: "You haven't gotten a bank account with Barclays after 6 months of phone messages, in-person interviews and complaints? Well! Welcome to London."]

But I didn't leave hating the place, as my previous posts might mistakenly suggest. I feel like I lived an entire year in it's first half. I had an awesome time, and learned a million and one lessons I wouldn't have if I'd been anywhere else at that point in time. But I kept reminding myself that the time would eventually come to an end, so I would have to make the most of it whilst being ready for it to run out, too. I arrived knowing almost no one and nothing about Australia's so-called 'motherland', but made a whole new life for myself there, complete with new friends, weekend plans, hobbies and an altered dress sense and musical taste to boot.

Leaving London was as understated and unremarkable an affair as my arrival in Sydney. A brief hug and kiss, and one last quick glance-around later(in direct contravention of my personal rule to never turn back once you leave something or someone for good or with a hint of regret), and I was homeward bound. When I arrived in Sydney, I had a huge grin plastered on my face ready to see my parents for the first time in almost eight months, only to find no one there waiting. Long periods of travel have made me resourceful though. I called them using 1800 reverse (Holly Valance is useful for something, I guess), finally found them, and had my long-awaited (but now, somewhat anti-climatic) reunion embrace.

The moment of truth actually came during the last leg of my 23 hour flight. It was only then I finally accepted that my time in London had come to an end.

I'd just spent eight hours in transit at Tokyo airport. I spent it going online to see if anyone in London was awake and on Facebook, thinking about how much my upcoming semester was going to suck after such a teriffic one abroad, and generally just wanting to turn around and fly back. For all it's hang-ups it had been my home for the last eight months, and I missed it like an old friend, or a dress you weren't sure you should buy but which you will agonise over, and inevitably go back to and splurge on after about an hour.

While waiting to take off, a steward asked me about where I'd been. He nodded sympathetically when I told him I'd been gone for ages, and had been in London for most of it. I languished in the familiar old sound of the Australian accent all around me. But I talked about London for probably longer than is expected from a response in small talk. Maybe I was still in denial about the fact that I was no longer in UK airspace. "Going home?" he asked. "Yes.." I said slowly, testing out the word, realising it was the first time I'd acknowledged it out loud since leaving. The Australian high school students behind me chatted about how dramatic their two week stint in Japan had been and how emotional they were to be going home at last. I grimaced. 'Try eight months' I thought. 'Then see how you feel.'

I couldn't sleep the rest of the way back. I kept darting between nostalgic memories from London and tentative predictions about Sydney. I wasn't sure whether I was looking forward to, or dreading our descent. Only one thing was for sure- I wanted to be off this stupid plane asap.

My decision came to me on its own, painlessly. The pilot's announcement was simple, and I remember it word for word because of the way it made me feel:

"Good morning everyone, we will be arriving at Sydney Airport in about 20 minutes. The time there will be 7am. For all of you travelling here on holiday or for business, I'd like to welcome you to Sydney. And for those of you who are coming back, welcome home!"

The Japanese exchange students behind me cheered.

I smiled.




Sounds like you had a great time. Welcome back :D

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