Monday, August 2, 2010

Returning Home: After Study Abroad

Unintentionally almost, I had traveled around the world. Or, maybe, the world ran away from me for a while but now started to come back. I drank my last beer in Australia, last breath, last thought, and last moment. Just a few hours will pass, and I will walk again in New York City. I will go to see my family, home. I started in New York, came to Asia and Australia – to Curtin University, WA- and I return to the start. Then, life will run away with me once again.

I remember arriving in Perth. Australians rode cars and not kangaroos. It was green enough nearby; just a minute away the red sand raged. I remember the beauty of Fremantle on that first Sunday. The harbor was full with ships as cannons called up ghosts of times past. I remember Yanchap where I threw a spear weakly and failed at surfing. Why did the baby gray kangaroo run away when it saw me?

I was there to study abroad at Curtin University and studying hard was the easiest part. Of course, I was really there to be myself in a different place. Some fears arose at first. I didn’t want to be a stranger in a strange land, with a heart that no one sees, a voice that no one hears.

I remember Asia when I fell in love again with the world and its difference faces. Had the spires of Angkor Wat been more beautiful in the past? Could Shanghai really pack more people into it? In Malaysia, I learned the meaning of good food. And, in Hong Kong, I climbed to see the great Buddha; did it take me any closer to the gods?

I can’t make sense, can’t sort out all the moments, the infinite diversity of instants. Times of joy and laughter and happiness abound- finding a true friend by mistake, maybe too late, but then it’s never too late. Doing all the things I would never do back home; sometimes, I really just sat and looked at the view (but who complains about nature anyway?).

I remember spending late nights in CV, arguing with a long-haired boy and studying to the break of dawn. What funny conversations people can have, sleep-deprived Americans and Australians. I remember dinners with my mentor Ami, who made me laugh and wonder if I would ever have to grow up. I remember chasing after stories for Ripples, wondering if I’d ever understand Australia’s zeitgeist.

I won’t lie, for to lie about this, I might as well not write. Many nights I was homesick and just blue, after the sweet satisfaction of being alone and on my own had passed; even the water was sometimes bitter. I can’t complain. I’d turn different every time I thought; was it just all but a dream?

I remember the Outback, the taste of rusty metal in the air, and the touch of flies on my skin. In Laverton, I met some fairies, children one and all, who charmed away my soul and brought me only light. I remember goat curry burning my tongue, but we could not stop eating till the food itself was totally done. In Leonora, I remember a Golden Gift Race, of men and women, not horses. They ran fast, but no matter would they ever escape gravity? After all, it was discovered at Gin Gin, by letting water balloons fall fast and hard.

Twenty was not too young for anything. In fact, to be twenty forever would be immortality. And, coming back, I’m still twenty, unchanged much exteriorly, even though Australian cuisine is really very tasty. Within I know the difference, more able and more real. When I saw the world outside, I also saw me better.

I remember the Ten Day Northwest Trip, the sighting of the mythical Manta, while I flailed out in the sea. The pinnacle rising up out of the desert made a nice dry picnic site. I remember Australian beaches filled with the finest sands and shells and water. It ebbed and flowed under the sun with rays like golden spears- at least, no sharks ate me. I remember staying up all night to go to the beach first thing in the morning. I wasn’t first at all; the surfers had long been putting out. I remember many things, but to tell them would be unlawful.

Australia has come and gone, like waking up half way through a dream, a nightmare, and strangely not forgetting about it but craving to know the end. I fill up the blank spaces in my head, but the map grows ever larger. When I went abroad, I came again and found the spirit that I’d never lost.

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