When the foreign becomes the familiar.

by Annie on January 15, 2013

A little over a year and a half ago, I wrote this post about leaving your childhood home behind, and it resonated with a lot of people. At that time, I was sitting in my sister’s kitchen in Kennewick, Washington. We were having a fantastic summer, swimming with my niece and nephew, celebrating birthdays and just enjoying being fun-employed and traveling the world. As happy as I was to be at home, I was still a little bit lost. Living out of a single suitcase, unsure of where I would be living in less than one month. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all about the travel, but let’s be real here, I’m not as tough as I look.

What did I do? I got on that plane at LAX, after two very long and very tearful conversations, one with Mom and one with Dad. I don’t know what I was afraid of. I just missed them and I hadn’t even left yet. I wasn’t sure I was doing the right thing.

Airplane Flight Wing flying to Travel on Vacation

photo credit

But Australia was about starting a new life in an already loved city.

So, things were chugging along just fine. I was working 12 hour shifts as a waitress in a swanky hotel {with a less than swanky paycheck}, Lorenzo was designing his digital dreams as a digital media student and we were living with eight other people in a cold house in the hipster superb of Chippendale. But something wasn’t right. I missed my friends and family, I was too time and money poor to explore Australia and I was worried that I was running out of time on my year long visa.

Then, I became the business woman of my dreams, sort of. I didn’t realize what had happened until I went home at the end of 2012.

When I finally made the trip back home for Christmas, something felt different. Suddenly, it all felt a little more like visiting. Being someone that doesn’t always grasp understanding right in the moment it took me a few days of reflection to understand just what was going on.

Here’s the thing. I missed my life. I missed my home.

Sydney = home.

I know, I know. What an insensitive daughter/sister/niece/friend. But really, I’ve built my life here and it took a trip back to the motherland for me to see it.

You know when you’re first starting out in a new place and everything is unfamiliar? In Australia, the suburb streets are lined with terrace houses, all connected at the walls with different colors paint splashed across their fronts. The first time I saw it, I thought it was weird; so different from home, where childhood houses are spread across blocks all surrounded by picket fences with metal swing sets in the backyards.

Street signs at Peel St

photo credit

I’ve stopped noticing accents. It takes a sudden moment of clarity to realize whether someone is talking like me, or like everyone around me, because they are both so second nature to me now.

Sometimes travelers, when they find themselves writing similar words or thinking similar thoughts, they bolt. They’ve overstayed their welcome. I’ve just found my place, and that is a very exciting feeling.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
  • camorose

    Ahhhh love this. Can totally relate: I honestly feel like “home” has been Nice and Melbourne and Sacramento and now, New York City. And to be honest: I still miss Australia, the way I miss California. It really was home. Keep living the life, lady xxx

  • Heather

    Australia was really feeling like that to me before I left and I didn’t want to leave. I’m happy to be in Charlottesville now, but there’s no other place I’d rather “be at home” than Sydney.

    So happy that you’re happy!!

  • purplekat99

    I can totally relate to you on the accent thing! I heard New Zealand accents, but I don’t know what it was once I moved on to Australia, I didn’t hear them at all. Plus it helped that I could finally understand what people were saying! (New Zealanders mumble too much for my ear.) It was American accents that jumped out at me after a while.

  • http://twitter.com/AndiPerullo Andi Perullo, L.Ac.

    So cool!!!

  • http://www.thepaperplanesblog.com/ Alana – Paper Planes

    Sometimes when things start to feel familiar it becomes stale and sometimes it becomes just right – I wrote a similar post recently (though a little more question of my situation) http://www.thepaperplanesblog.com/the-honeymoons-over/ trying to decide if what I’m feel is too familiar or ‘home’. While I love traveling and seeing different places, sticking around and building a life somewhere is just as appealing…if you’re able to do that in Australia instead of Washington then I think you’re finding the best of both worlds!

  • Erica

    I know how you feel- I spent so much time wishing I had the comforts of home in my apt in Tokyo… until one day I realized that that had become my home, but by then, it was too late. I’d already decided to move back to the US, and now being here feels kind of weird. I know that with time, though, things will change :)

  • http://waywardtraveller.com/ Annie @ Wayward Traveller

    Yep that’s what happened to me the first time I left Australia, although I think to be honest at that time I missed my lifestyle (I was a student) than my life. Now I understand what it really means to feel like home!

    I hope that you get all settled back in the States quickly!

  • http://waywardtraveller.com/ Annie @ Wayward Traveller

    Great post, thanks for sharing it Alana!

  • http://waywardtraveller.com/ Annie @ Wayward Traveller

    Thanks Andi! :)

  • http://waywardtraveller.com/ Annie @ Wayward Traveller

    Ha ha, it’s weird huh? Now that my friends have started saying I sound Aussie, I start to notice it in myself a bit more, but it still takes me ages to recognize and American around here! So weird!

  • http://waywardtraveller.com/ Annie @ Wayward Traveller

    Thanks Heather! I’m so happy that you’re happy back in Charlottesville! I’m sure Sydney hasn’t seen the last of you!

  • http://waywardtraveller.com/ Annie @ Wayward Traveller

    I think it’s so great that you can make each place you live in feel like home. I really struggled in Florence, I think it was mostly in my mind but it just never felt right! I’m so happy to have found my place here in Sydney!

    Like I said, you’ll always have a place to stay in Sydney and I’m sure you still have plenty in Melbs!

  • Erica

    Thanks! Going back to Seattle for some coffee should do the trick ;)

    Can’t get too settled though! I need to run away to another country soon :)

Previous post:

Next post: