"The world is round and the place which may seem like the end may also be only the beginning."
- Ivy Baker Priest
I thought a bit about the "too much, too soon" thing and in fact, I don't think it's that I wanted to stay in Europe, because by the end of January, I WAS ready to go back. It's not that I was fed up with Europe (although Prague was less inspiring than I'd hoped); it's just that I was out of energy, out of money, and starting to get bored of the whole tourist lifestyle: the food-shopping, the hanging around the flat, the drinking and staying up until 2 or 3 in the morning. Most of all, the summer skies and familiar faces of Australia were beckoning. So what bothered me was not that our trip ended - it was always going to end, after all, and I was prepared for that fact - but that when it did, and I was back in Melbourne, the whole thing seemed like it had never happened. It struck me as almost cruel, how insignificant and remote all those memories seemed, just two or three days after getting back. I loved being back and seeing all my friends again, but when I tried telling them about the trip, it suddenly seemed so long ago, so fleeting, as if I was telling them about nothing more than a dream I had last night.... Which is why I appreciate our little correspondence: because the contact I've kept with you is something that's continued beyond the trip; makes it live on in some small but meaningful way in my life back here in Australia.
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I love indulging in Life's Simple Pleasures - in friends, in my dogs, in drawing, music-making, eating out etc - but in Europe, I was being made constantly aware that I had a life ahead of me that involved more, DEMANDED more, than just socializing and creative hobbies. Especially when I was in Poland, people would ask me, "So, what are you going to do for a career?" And I realized that I had no answer to that, because I don't know. I mean, I KNOW that I'd like to be a film director or music artist, but these aren't realistic prospects at the moment: I'm too young, I've got no experience, and no relevant qualifications. Even more often, people would ask me: "So, when are you going to get married? Do you have a lover back in Australia?" And usually I'd answer back, half-jokingly half-seriously, that "Australian girls don't appeal to me -- I need a European." To which they'd immediately respond, "Well, in that case, stay in Europe!"
At the time I dismissed it as a joke, but now I wonder. My parents have been talking about the same thing for quite some time - about getting a job there and staying with my extended family - but the thing is, it'd be such a massive and expensive move. For someone who spends so much time on the phone or seeing friends, it'd be difficult to leave them all behind for so long. It'd be hard leaving behind my dogs too, as well as the mild Australian climate I'm so used to, and even my bedroom, that little private place of mine full of surrealist artwork, electronic music and books. But then I think back to Europe and wonder, wouldn't it be worth it?
I know exactly the dreamy feeling, when one is trying to decide was it a dream or reality. It is typical after incredible experiences such as a journey. For me it goes like this. After floating/drifting for a week in a haze the reality strikes, but I try to fight against it with everything I possess. Then I am forced somehow to build or carry on with my life. It is some kind of innate (?) way to survive. But all that time I seem to be living in 2 worlds. Partly my thoughts and dreams are still in that other world and I subconsciously look for similarities. The blond boy in school is one example of this. But forgetting is not a possibility; I don't want to forget. The experiences make us who we are and Europe is part of you and Köln, Vienna, Rome, New York, Montreal, Stockholm..... are part of me. These places/experiences and the people we have met are always within us. I hope I explained it clearly, albeit my thoughts are often too complex to explain. If I may carry on I would note that if Vienna was a dream, we both dreamt it. But it was reality, because I have empiric evidence of it and actually someone pinched me during that time and the pain was real :)
[ . . . . ]
I hope you have been sleeping well and enjoying your mother's cooking and the company of your friends (including Pipi and Happy) and the Australian Summer. Here it was -10*C this morning and I could not help thinking about the sun and warmness, when the bloody cold wind tried to defeat me.
Elka, I have something rather pleasing to report: I'M OFFICIALLY GOING TO EUROPE IN JUNE/JULY THIS YEAR!!
I discussed the whole Europe thing with my parents last night, and they think it's a great idea to go mid-year with my buddy Nathan, coz it'll be summer over there and everything will be nice and, well, summery! No gloves required, no need to deny myself ice-cream. Saving up $$$ shouldn't be much of a problem, coz I've still got a thousand bucks left over from my last trip: in a way, breaking my bankcard in Prague was a blessing coz it actually helped me save money. Also I'll be getting a couple of hundred bucks from my neighbour in return for doing odd jobs around her house.... every six months she pays me to clean her car, paint her kitchen, plant new plants in her garden etc, although I get the feeling what she's REALLY paying for is my company.... but anyway, all that aside aside the point is that I'll be back in just five months!!
Me with my dog Pipi, two months before my second trip.