Three months, that’s all. That’s all that’s left between me and the fulfillment of my oldest and dearest dream, between me and a promise I made to myself when I was very, very young, between me and the first time ever that I see a world beyond the Wide Brown Land that I was born in.
I’m going overseas for the very first time. I can’t wait! I’m going to America!
Now, to fully appreciate the enormity of this you’ve got to know a few things about me, and about the thinking that happens down here. First of all is this: I’m from Tasmania. Know where that is? It’s a little island off the coast of Mainland Australia. Yes, it exists (I know this because I live there). It’s very pretty, it’s rather small, and pretty much everyone who’s born here, at least for a season, thinks/dreams/talks about what it’ll be like when they leave.
I was a lucky kid, because back in the 80s when airline travel was hugely expensive I still got to go to the mainland once every couple of years or so. I kept all my boarding passes, airline refresher towelettes, napkins, you name it, if it had the airline logo on it I brought it home. I adored traveling. When I was old enough to get an atlas for school I pored over it, looking at all the countries that, when I was old enough, I would go to, and wondered how big my collection of airline paraphernalia would get, and I’d plot with a ruler how far north I’d been each time.
Not very far. North became my god, my dream, my ultimate. I’m from Tasmania. Check that out on a map. Now look up about five centimeters to the very bottom of mainland Australia. Not very far north at all, really. I kept dreaming.
Life happened, as it does, and by the time I was at the age when all my friends packed up for their big overseas adventures I stayed home and stewed in silent jealousy and practiced my best fake smile when well-meaning people told me “your time will come!”.
My time has come. Three months. Twelve weeks is all, and I’m sure that by the end I’ll be so sick of airline paraphernalia that I’ll never want to travel again.
Yesterday I decided for the third time that it wasn’t a good idea to go, that it was just not safe, that things would happen that I’d have no control over and I’d be stuck and lost and foreign in a place where people say words like “trash can” and “root beer” and they wouldn’t understand me when I tell them how desperate I’m feeling. This has happened before. Not the lost and foreign and desperate (well, unless you count my visit to Canberra), but the I-can’t-go. The first time it was transport. Too hard. Wrong side of the road. Ditch the whole idea. The second time it was guns, and the third time it was tarantulas (or, if you like, trianchulas)).
Now, here’s the other thing you need to know about me: I’m fearless. Nothing scares me. I’ll try anything, and most things I have, and sometimes more than once. Throwing caution to the wind and stepping out and doing it anyway is one of the things I’m best at in life, for better or worse. Except, it seems, when it comes to staying with friends in English-speaking countries in comfortable houses in the suburbs. Why, tell me, is this scaring me so much?
I don’t think it’s just me (Not the America thing, there are a few hundred million Americans who think America is the most normal place on earth, even when they do say “trash can” and “root beer”). I think that deep inside all of us is a fear of stepping into our deepest dreams. I don’t know why.
The only person who’s trying to sabotage my dreaming is me. I think it’s time to stop. And, in three months, it will be time to go. There will be guns, and possibly even spiders. I will see trash cans and drink root beer and be misunderstood and overtired, and probably cry more than I want to, and on the whole, it will be everything I ever dreamed, and then I’ll come home and never be the same again. Dreams do that to you, don’t they?