It’s now an hour and a week since I returned to Adelaide, which really shocks me to think about. This week has just flown by in a blaze of confusion, overwhelming feelings and reunions. It’s flown, but I’m still trying to figure out if it was because I was having fun.
Returning home after exchange is hard. I can feel that already. From a time when you’re absolutely free, relying on yourself to get by and make the most of it, to returning to responsibility and stress… well, I’ve said it before. It’s not too breezy. Sure, there’s the comfort of home, but there’s also the boredom and suffocation. I’m still trying to fight my way out of the bog of feeling but I’ll let you know when I’ve dug myself out.
What I’ve gathered so far is that I need to keep moving, keep changing. I can’t rest now and let too much of “reality” wash over me. I have to take time to get things straight. I need time without the stress of the future to just let myself get washed gradually and calmly down stream.
The problem is, something that I believe a lot of Gens Y and Z can relate to, is that we’re all so trained to plan. We taught, not unwisely, that you need to have your path planned, begin working for a well-paying career and family in your early teens, pick the appropriate courses at high school, get good enough grades to go to uni, pick the right courses there and then sneak your way into the corporate sphere any way you can.
While I’ve definitely taken all the steps necessary to land me as good a job as I could possibly get at this stage, I’m also feeling this hippy-ish call-to-the-wild, a call to grow my hair out and pick up a really good backpack. Walking through the city centre, seeing business men and women on their lunch breaks, or hurriedly walking to the next meeting, there’s a part of me that revolts. I guess that’s what travel does, doesn’t it? Makes you want to leave the rat race track and go off-road…
But that’s beside the point at this stage. The future is so full of variables, things that could hit like a thousand tonne meteor with no warning, that it’s impossible to plan everything. I know I definitely want to get back into some meaningful and well-fitting work, but I also know I want to spend some time working for myself, upon improving my writing, my body, my mind and my spirit. It’s a tough one, isn’t it?
Something that has definitely kept me from going too mad is that I’ve arrived back in Adelaide at the perfect time. Between Christmas, my birthday, and right at the beginning of our fantastic festival season. Beginning in February with various events and “big gigs”, moving into the world-famous Adelaide Fringe and then finishing with the Festival itself in March. I’m honestly incredibly grateful for being born in a city with such a passion for arts and creativity, such a clawing desire to reach the heights of the world’s great cultural capitals. If you ask me, I think we’re already there… just in a more compact and cozy fashion.
On Friday, I ventured down to gentrified Port Adelaide to a re-purposed mill for one of my favourite music festivals: St. Jerome’s Laneway Festival. I spent the day getting sun burnt, drinking a ridiculous amount of water, boogying to some of my acoustic heroes (Battles, Grimes, Sophie etc.) and catching up with some wide-eyed old friends. While the music was worth the price of admission in itself, I think the best part about this year’s Laneway was discovering my newly-trained ability to make friends with strangers. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve always been able to hypnotise a sucker or two into hanging out with me, but after my six months of having to make friends to survive, I feel like I’ve grown quite adept at it. Let’s put that down as another benefit of solo travel.
Sunday, bloody Sunday, was spent driving through the rolling bleached hills of South Australia and hitting up the overcast beach. Now I’m back, I’ve been able to look at my home with a tourist’s eyes, seeing a whole new world opened up. The hills and valleys might not be quite as dramatic as the alps, or as green as Germany, but they’re beautiful and unique in their own right. An ancient, sun-painted land of orange sand, ocher air and stoney trees. It is a land lapped by gemstone waters, churned up and spit out as opalescent sand by the waves.
This weekend has definitely revealed some under-currents in my own flow of feeling. Painting for the first time in months felt natural and pure, picking up review tickets to upcoming Fringe shows got me excited for the possibilities of human creation, looking through travel pics got me feeling nostalgic and itching to move on again. All in all, despite the pain and the stress and the little fluttering heartburn moving underneath the lungs and up to the brain, I think I’m beginning to move in the right direction. I refuse to be sad, refuse to go back to a time of angst and worry that plagued my younger years, I refuse to sit still and paralysed against the future… It’s just a matter of finding the right path onwards because, let’s be honest, I’m going to need something to top six months in Europe.