On Going Home

On Going Home

“Be more excited, Laura. You’re going home.

Tears were running down my face as I sat in Denpasar airport. My brain was scattered; salty wet drips were having a party on my face, one of those shit parties that no one rocks up to with not enough punch provided.

I clasped my too-small wallet and bent passport in my left hand, right hand running through my washed hair. It was a sensation that now felt unnatural, given that past month had made me used to going without conditioner. My attempt at shaving my legs had got half the job done; little tracks of hair here or there – like my legs were a race course preparing for tires with no tread.

For the last month, I had been frolicking (or falling) around Bali with a crew of people who redefined the terms “drunk”, “loose” and “bruised”. I had come to know the ins and outs of Canggu, a small coastal village in the island’s south west, like it was my hometown. My mind had been opened to a whole new world of culture. I had eaten things I couldn’t pronounce, seen sunsets I couldn’t fathom the colour of, and come home in the rain, dripping wet and braless in a guy’s white tee.

Home was Perth, Western Australia – a beautiful city, but a city where there was an abundance of inhabitants who didn’t fancy change and enjoyed the comfort of a regular routine. As great as this was for them, I had come to love the independence a month away had had given me the opportunity to have.

I touched down in Perth after a short three hours. It was 3:30pm on a Sunday, and the Niagara Falls of tears were very much still cascading down my cheeks, earning me strange looks from the people on either sides of me. Weirdly, I already missed the feeling of riding on the back of a scooter with a broken speedometer and a black seat that’s daily connection with the sun made my butt cheeks sweat out enough toxins to create a McDonald’s cheeseburger.

My mother, brother and Perth friends all seemed excited to see me on the phone, so I started practising my best “happy” face in fear of letting them down with my disappointment to be back home.

The next day, feeling empty and forlorn, I arranged to catch up with a great friend of mine: carrying out our ritual of talking shit and drinking a milkshake together. The pretend smile wasn’t required as I fondly told her stories of all the ridiculous things I’d been up to the past month. The messes, the crashes, the one-too-many drunken times glass found its way into my leathery and newly-browned feet. She laughed along.

“All these stories are making me feel spontaneous! Should we go to the beach?”

She hated the beach. A huge smile etched itself across my face.

“Fuck, why not?”

Bather-less and straight from the city, we drove to the ocean and stripped off our pants. I was in blissful disbelief; this was my one friend who I knew despised the sand, the salty water and everything the beach had to offer. My friend who always wore black jeans, a black t-shirt and boots, with winged eyeliner on point.

That same friend was now ahead of me as we stumbled down to the water’s edge in nothing but bra and underwear in a public place as we submerged our heads beneath the waves.

*

Leaving Bali, and especially leaving the people at the hostel that had become a home, broke my heart. I cried in the taxi to the airport, where the driver attempted to lift the mood by playing some catchy Western pop from the radio. I cried sitting at the airport gate as I ate Pringles leftover from the communal kitchen, which had miraculously not been raided by my drunken roommates. I cried between philosophical d&ms with the kind taxi driver who took me from Perth airport to my house.

But home was okay. It’s what you make it, I guess, and my friend’s spontaneous attitude at the beach ignited the fire in me once more to get out of my comfort zone – this time in my own backyard. 30 days away had turned me into a wannabe wolf – not a lone one, just one that liked to use its paws to go on exciting adventures instead of making unnecessary holes in the hand-me-down carpet by the fireplace.

So at 5:30am tomorrow, I have a flight out of here to Tasmania, then I’m moving to Sydney. Tonight, I’m in limbo – poor and confused, but excited: a 21-year-old whose first taste of independence has lit a fuse. A rusty one, a poorly-lit one with the wind blowing it in unknown diagonals of direction, but all the same, a fuse that wasn’t there before.

Cover by Nolan Marketti