I was awoken by an airline tray of food being thrust at me after what felt like 10 minutes sleep. Normally, I dutifully eat whatever I’m served but not today. Yesterday (though plane time feels more like a continuum without distinct days), I watched the sun set just after take off and it felt metaphorically powerful. Doubly so was the impact of this morning’s sunrise over Sydney.
As we started our descent, I squirmed as much as my economy seat would allow. The women next to me tried to spark up conversation for the first time and it was all I could do not to shout at her “Too late lady! Not now!” as I eclipsed her view out the window with my trepidatious form. The coastline came into view and quickly built up to the city – a sight that has made my soul soar on so many previous occasions now confused and confronted me with so much uncertainty.
By the time we touched down, I was like a caged animal wanting to escape but cowering in the corner. We de-boarded and I had a dream run through baggage collection and passport control – with my e-passport, I didn’t even have to speak to anyone, just pass straight through. It was all happening too quickly! Luckily, I had items to declare which bought me a little time but not much. The very friendly customs officer cleared my wooden elephants with a cursory glance and wished me a good day. I’m sure I looked at him with big eyes that pleaded “help me” as though an unseen assailant was holding me hostage. He didn’t notice and seemed blissfully unaware that he was my last point of contact before entering a parallel universe that looked in almost every way like the life I left but completely and unutterably different.
The entire premise of this blog is The Fool’s Journey – stepping off a metaphorical cliff edge into the unknown based on an intuition that it must be done without any assurance of what awaits below. Eight months ago, passing through these gates was that precipice. Now that same precipice has ironically become a mirror image of itself. I saw the sliding doors just a few feet away and was temporarily paralysed by the equal push and pull of my desire to ‘jump off’. I audibly told myself to get it together, took three deep breaths and pushed through…
… and there they were, the most glorious and heart warming welcome party that anyone could ever wish to see – my family! It was 6am and they had all made the extraordinary effort to be there with balloons and banners flying. It was quite the spectacle with jumping and screaming and waving. My nephew Madiba rushed forward to me and gave me the biggest hug that just erased any grief at who wasn’t there – with this much love, there just wasn’t any room for it. I hugged them all in turn, turning to water in their arms. When my Dad cuddled me, I felt like a little girl safe in his embrace. Seeing Mum again had the added dimension of the friendship forged in our travels whilst Bec, Rach, Marlon, Sarah and Gabrielle filled me with the knowledge that what ever I’m about to face, I won’t ever be alone. And then there was not-so-little-anymore Lucca! My baby nephew who was only weeks old when I left, now a proper little person smiling me a welcome home that would melt the hardest heart.
I was bundled up and taken to breakfast which passed like a blur. My brain barely registered being there before everyone was disbanding to go about their days. I went with Rach, Marlon and Madiba at the latter’s insistence to be further debriefed about the goings on in my absence. But of course, my mind was on the one big reunion that was yet to take place. I was sick with anxiety about seeing Matthew so reasoned there was no point putting it off.
I called ahead and although it wasn’t far, I asked Rach to drive me unsure whether my legs would carry me and definitely in no state to drive myself. My heart beat out of my chest, every nervous habit, tick or twitch I developed in the aftermath surfaced as shaking legs bore me forward to my own front door upon which I had to knock for the very first time.
Prior to this trip, the longest Matthew and I had spent apart was a week. Now almost 8 months later, these last few moments were agony. He opened the door and there he was! Despite my earlier phone call, my knock had woken him up – obviously my anxiety about our reunion wasn’t shared. None the less we hugged for the longest time and although I felt a thousand things in that instant, mostly I was just pleased to see him. It was surreal feeling like a guest in my own house, feeling the need for permission to polk around my own stuff and not a notion that was discouraged. We sat and chatted but I was eventually given my cue to leave – people to see, places to be. And that was that. I left my house, no longer resident, and walked back to Rach’s after a little sob and pause for breath in the lane way by our house.
The remainder of the day passed in a jet-lagged, sleep-deprived, emotionally-spent daze. I followed where I was led with no will to exert. Rach, Marlon and Madiba looked after me and delivered me safely to Bec’s place where I’ll be staying until… until what I simply don’t know. I have anticipated this day for so long but not a moment beyond it. Despite my exhaustion, I have stayed up and up and up perhaps in a vain attempt to stave off the inevitable.
Tomorrow, a new day will dawn on an unimagined future and a new adventure will begin.