3 May 2007

Going Overseas

In seven weeks I'll be leaving the country.

For people who live on other continents, this may not seem like a big thing. You can drive to another country.

I can't imagine what that's like. I can't imagine driving for a few hours, and suddenly being in a different country, with a different language spoken. I can't imagine an international border that does not consist of ocean.

When you're an Aussie who was born here and has never left, the world is divided into two parts. There is Australia, and there is this other place called Overseas. Overseas is where the interesting things happen. Overseas is where the bad, scary things happen. Going Overseas is almost a rite of passage. It doesn't matter where you go. Everywhere that's not here is Overseas.

Australia was started as a prison. For some of us (in other words, me) it still seems like a prison. Unless you have a lot of money, you can't get out of it. You can't walk or drive or swim far enough to get out of it.

When I was young, I had dreams of travelling to far off lands where exciting things happened. I just assumed my life would turn out in a way that let me travel. But it didn't turn out that way.

I watched so many other people leave. It made me so envious and frustrated. I was the one who'd had the dreams of leaving all my life! It wasn't fair of them to live my dreams. I'd thought of it first! And I was the one left behind.

And as the years went by, it began to seem like I'd never leave, like I was stuck on this prison continent. And somehow I twisted my feelings around and learned to love this country, to protect myself from the desire to leave it. Call it a kind of continental Stockholm syndrome, if you will.

Gradually as I grew older, I became scared of leaving. I hid my fear under a veneer of excuses about why I couldn't go.

I don't think I fully realised how afraid I was until this trip flipped over from dream to potential reality. Suddenly, every time I thought of it I became physically sick in my stomach. Talking about it gave me panic attacks. I put off applying for a passport, I put off booking a ticket, I put off paying for the ticket.

Now all this is done. I can't back out now. And suddenly I am free - free of the fear, and free of the bonds that were holding me to this land.

For the first time ever, I'll be flying across the ocean to a place on the other side of the world.

Why? Those of you who've been around here long enough may recall how I wrote about a housemate of mine who came from a foreign country. She became one of my closest friends, and when she left I missed her so much it hurt. So finally, I've been inspired to get off my arse and leave the country, to go and visit her.

Seven weeks and counting.


Stinkypaw said...

So happy for you! You'll love travelling I'm sure! If you're anything like me, you'll get hooked and then that's all you'll want to do - there is so much to see, to discover, to enjoy and to love!

Don't forget, you WILL have to make your way this way, eventually!

But for now, enjoy your time with your old mate and try to keep in touch! Amuses-toi bien!

ArtfulDodger said...

Oh wow, that is sooo exciting!! Is where you are going upside down too? If not, you may have to practice a little, I hear the change can be disorienting. hehe.

Seriously though, that is wonderful and good for you. Someday I hope to be able to return the favor and travel to Australia myself. Just to keep things balanced.

Chaotic Cat said...

The first thing I checked was if the water went down the plug hole the wrong way round hehehhee.

Hugs L

Mesmacat said...

Glad to hear you are going out into the world, I hope you have a lot of fun. Ironically I have just returned to Australia, having become fed up of being out there :)


Anonymous said...

yay!! That is so exciting! I've never left the US further than Mexico or Canada. I've always wanted to go to Australia actually... Do you feel comfortable telling us what country you are going to?

hasarder said...

Sorry it's taken me so long to respond to your comments, people!

Stinkypaw - Yes, I get the feeling this will only be the first of many trips. I think travelling is like tatoos - after the first, you just keep getting the urge.

Art - No, not upside down! Though of course you know that we're on top of the world, and YOU'RE all upside down!
Let me know if you ever do come down this way. I can take you to the good places!

Chaotic Cat - that's exactly what I'm planning to check out as soon as I get there!

Kev - Hey, long time no hear! Good to know you've come back to the land of Oz.

DFP - nope, not telling yet. It's in Europe, and that's all you're getting for now.
You should come to Australia too! Come with Art. You can all stay at my place.

Emily said...

Well, bon voyage, there! I think I will be staying here for quite a while, though I travelled overseas a lot when I was younger (Egypt, Israel, Britain, France, Greece, New Zealand, India, Singapore).

It sounds like its really time you saw what else is out there!

Desmond Jones said...

Geez, H, I'm so sorry I haven't stuck my nose in here in so long.

Of course, here in the US, we only have 'drive-able' borders with Canada and Mexico, and those are the only countries I've ever visited outside the land of my birth. And, no offense to my Canadian friends (of whom I have many), but going to Canada just isn't a very 'foreign' experience, except maybe Quebec.

Heck, for lots of us Yanks, just getting out of our home state can feel pretty exotic. . . ;)