It’s 15 years ago this month since I left Australia for London. I never really said good-bye properly, because I fully expected to return within a year. I wasn’t intending on making London my permanent move.
I’m still not convinced that it is.
“Have those years flown by,” a friend recently enquired, I replied, “Indeed they have.” I’m sure she meant what she said next in a positive way, “Well, if you’re lucky, you’ll get to do those 15 years over twice more and still have some time to spare at the end.” The thought disturbed me. In that moment I truly grasped just how quickly our lives slip by.
I recall, clearly, the night before my departure. I drove to my favorite beach and sat on my own, watching the sun as it set over the ocean. Dolphins played in the surf, and I wondered what was waiting for me on the other side of the seas and continents I’d be flying across the next day. I’d never been to the UK.
It was unusually hot for the season, and I lingered as long as I could. I savored the warmth and enjoyed the almost tangible feeling of freedom that flowed through my veins. I knew I was on the cusp of an experience that would inevitably change me. I just wasn’t sure how.
I rose to my feet, and as I did so, I felt the sand trickle between my toes. The evening breeze caught the skirt of my white dress and suddenly it was swirling around me. It was an ethereal moment, marking the passing from one world into another.
I met my friends for dinner, and we cheerily squeezed a few too many bottoms around a tiny table at my favorite pizzeria, forcing our sweaty legs to cling to one another. I felt as though their limbs were physically pleading with mine to stay. I could feel uncertainty creeping in.
But I was determined; quietly thrilled with myself for finally doing something I’d longed for and talked about for so long. Plus I felt so brave to be going on my own.
I’ve always longed for something: not for things, but for experiences and to be with the people I love. When I lived in Australia, I longed to be abroad and living a very different life – the one I’m living now. Now I long for my country and the people I miss the most ‘back home.’ I also long to travel more and to live in other countries; to learn their language and way of life; to forge the kind of friendships that only come when you’re deeply immersed in a community.
I’ve learnt that longing is simply a part of who I am.
Maybe that’s how it is for many of us. Perhaps a lifetime of longing is what keeps us moving forward and living life to the fullest. I’m just grateful we don’t need to be entirely content, in order to be blissfully happy.