At the end of August I left Australia with a one-way ticket and a half-formed plan. Single for the first time since I was a teenager, alone for the first time on the other side of the world. I’d left my marriage. I’d turned my life upside down. My year had been a series of difficult decisions and difficult conversations. The hardest year of my life. It was time for me to leave, get a little lost, and untangle myself from it all.
It was the best thing I ever did.
170 days, 10 countries and countless cities later, while I don’t feel ready for this adventure to end, I know I’m ready to return.
I wouldn’t say I’m going back a different person. I wouldn’t say this trip has changed me. But I would say it has helped me get to know myself a whole lot better. And for that, I’m not a different person, but a stronger one.
I used to be scared of pretty much everything. Failure, what others thought of me, letting people down, life in general. In the first few weeks of this trip I was startled by how not-scary it all seemed. I thought something was wrong with me because things that would have previously terrified me didn’t seem like such a big deal anymore. But then I realised… I had faced my biggest fears. I had failed, and I’d let people down, and I’d fought my way through an incredible amount of guilt. It was really fucking tough, but I did it. And now all those things that used to scare me just aren’t so scary anymore.
I know now that I can be on my own, wholly and happily. I know that I don’t really mind not really knowing where home is. I know new friends can bring just as much joy as old ones. I know language is no barrier. I know kindness is key. I know it’s ok to say no, but sometimes it’s more fun when you just say yes.
I know Paris.
The city that reaches in, opens you wide… And you stay that way. (Yes, I’m quoting Gene Kelly.)
I know that I want to spend more time here. I know that I need to keep traveling.
So here’s the plan.
I’m going back to Australia to build myself a tiny house in Stanthorpe. I want a base, but I don’t want to be tied down. I want to work seasonally. Keep shooting in Australia. Spend the summers in Europe. Spend the winters wherever I feel the need to wander.
I want to put this plan into action.
So it’s time to go back. For a little while, at least.
I want to thank the people who have been a part of this. The people who have taken me in, listened to my stories, told me theirs. The people who have made me a part of their families, their celebrations, their lives. The people who have walked with me, learned with me, over-indulged and daydreamed with me. You will all, always, hold a special place in my heart.
I’ve never been happier. I’ve never felt more excited and inspired. I’m still a little lost. But that’s not such a bad thing. Because when we’re lost, we’re looking. We’re searching and we’re curious. Open to learn, to listen and explore. Accept help, offer it in return. Say yes.
And when I think of it that way, I hope I always feel a little lost.
I never want this to end. And I’m so grateful it isn’t.
Goodbye for now, Paris.
See you soon, Australia.