“There’s no place like home. There’s no place like home.”
Such simple words enriched with such substance whispered Dorothy as she closed her eyes with fierce concentration her words only interrupted by the sound of her ruby slippers clicking together. All throughout the seasons of my life some things have remained constant, one being my love for the Wizard of Oz. So deep this love has been my wardrobe has always been decorated with my own ‘ruby slippers’ from patent red flats as a little girl in braids to the many red stiletto’s that have filled by closet as a woman. This powerful quote made famous by the legendary Judy Garland has always been my truth. Home for me, like so many others, is more than just bricks and mortar but a core part of our identity as human beings. That feeling I get as the wheels of the aircraft hit the tarmac in Australia and the rush as the pilot pulls the plane to a stop has always filled me with a sense of instant calm, not only from finally being on the ground but from being home.
This is quite difficult for me to write let alone admit to myself but when I landed back in my very own Land of Oz at the beginning of this month after being away for 1.5 years the myriad of feelings that hit me was vastly different and unexpected. I felt and have been feeling an overwhelming sense of disconnect with the country that birthed me, nurtured me and graced me with a lifestyle full of opportunity. I don’t understand why I feel this way and it’s challenging to find the right words to describe the experience. When I saw my beautiful parents and my crazy family for the first time I burst into tears from pure happiness at seeing their faces and being in their company again. I have never stopped missing them. But I did stop missing Australia. I stopped being homesick a long time ago, a choice I had to make in order to survive being alone for so many months abroad. Now when I am alone, that is when I notice it… how much I miss London, Ireland and the jet setting life I had become accustomed to. The aforementioned places are not my home but they were for a long time. When temporary homes become an intrinsic part of who you are and the time spent in these places have a monumental impact on your life, in fairness I suppose you cannot help but leave some part of your soul behind as a tribute to these countries that fostered you. I have come to realise that travelling for long periods of time or living the expat life changes you drastically and in order to grow from these global experiences the sacrifice is letting go of the old you.
Relocating abroad completely solo was by far the most challenging experience I have faced but I was determined to make it from the start. I knew I needed to evolve because I had become stuck in Australia and was in a very unhealthy place mentally and emotionally, thus in order to succeed I had to suppress my longing for the familiar. I let go to the point where the thought of coming home made me feel quite anxious. Again it is daunting to be honest about his subject as I don’t want people to think I am unappreciative or worse that I don’t love my country or my family, those assumptions could not be further from the truth. Travel just changes you and if you’re not ready for that journey to be over then returning can be unnerving. I am petrified of allowing my return to the comforts of home and the familiarity of my environment to undo all the work I did to get to a place where I finally knew myself and my worth after being lost for a long time. As I write this I have come to the realisation that if I am fearful of my journey being for nothing then that choice lies with me and me alone. I am responsible for what happens next.
I am certainly at a crossroads in my life and am unsure where the next chapter of my life will play out, how it will play out or even who the supporting players will be. But that is ok. I do know one thing though, my love for this world burns brighter than ever before and I am restless to seek the next adventure, whether that be returning back to London in a few months, pursuing a career in Paris or completing embarking on a new career in Dubai. If home doesn’t feel like home anymore, perhaps like me you simply weren’t ready to stop exploring.
Transition is always trying no matter the circumstances and like anything I suppose I need to give myself time… and you should too if you feel a little disconnected. As I wrap this up, I hear the sound of the kookaburras, their laughter warning those who listen of rain to come. I have not heard their playful song in over a year. I see my father sneaking my cat his favourite snack, cheese, I realise I had forgotten that simple fact about our dear pet. In conclusion, I now understand that in order to survive in a foreign environment we must let of our homes and in doing so we forget the little things that make home so endearing. Having forgotten these small yet iconic things disconnect is inevitable. When you’re reminded of the facets of your old life that make your home unique … well your passion for travel will always need nurturing but the disconnect you felt upon returning, though it might not fully go away, it will ease.
All in good time my friends.