Just like that it’s all over. This is the closest I hope to come to being released from prison. It doesn’t feel quite right, the freedom to leave. Yes, alright I know that’s a bit extreme. I’ve not been held here against my will, but I’ve known that leaving would jeopardise my chances of staying in Australia for another year. I’ve had the ticket for the bus booked for a week, my tent has been dropped, my bags are packed and piled up in the corner of the shed. I am ready to go home.
The journey back was a bit of a blur. The night bus left Mildura at 21:50 and was scheduled to arrive in Melbourne at 06:40 the following morning. There were few enough people traveling that I could afford to stretch out across both seats in an attempt to find a spot comfortable enough to fall asleep. The journey went some what quickly as I passed in and out of wakefulness whenever we slowed to a stop. Once we’d left Ballarat I was a little bit excited, I knew that it wouldn’t be long until I would see the familiar skyscrapers rising from the heart of the city. The bus arrived pretty much on time and I jumped into a cab and headed across town to Richmond where I could wash myself, my clothes and crawl into a soft, warm bed that I could lay down in for a while.
On my first venture back in to the city I found myself a little overwhelmed by how tall everything is. From Mildura to Swan Hill I was hard pushed to find anything bigger than a radio tower, in Curlwaa I reckon the tallest point on the horizon was probably a tree. The nearly 300m tall Eureka Tower might have had me feeling a little queasy the first time I considered quite how high that is. This was new. I’ll admit that I’m not great with heights, but that’s usually when I’m at the top of something looking down. Having both feet firmly planted on the ground with my stomach doing backflips wasn’t something I’d considered experiencing, especially not with a sight that I consider to be so familiar to me.
I had expected to feel claustrophobic at times. The simple convenience of walking to the supermarket, what a treat that is by the way, probably involves encounters with more people than I think I’ve seen in the past three months. Captain Obvious is here to inform you that the city is busy. Thank you Captain Obvious. I was expecting the closeness to include to how confined the city is with buildings blocking open views but that hasn’t happened. I think the height of some of the tower blocks, along with the low rolling hills that I had never noticed before has aided with making it easier to comprehend the vast sprawling metropolis.
Then there’s the bloody weather, probably the most mundane, boring, most talked about subject on the planet. Alright, so we’re 500km further south now, of course it’s colder. It is still winter, although I’m sure we must be approaching spring soon. We’re on the coast, it makes sense that the wind is stronger. Then of course there’s the fact that this is Melbourne; a city famous for displaying four seasons in one day. I’ve seen hail, rain, and beautiful clear blue skies and that’s just this morning.
That’s all well and good but how does it actually feel to be back? I was expecting things to be stressful; the job search, the house hunting were both high on my list of things I could be legitimately worried about. I had various paranoid moments where I would ask myself “what if the government say I can’t stay?” Well, they didn’t; I’ve done what was required and I’m here for another year. The apartment sorted itself out much quicker than I had expected and I’ll be moving into my third (fourth if you’re counting the tent) Australian residence in a couple of weeks. The job was even easier, my old recruitment agency got me set up almost immediately upon my return and I’ve been in training for the past week for a new customer services role.
No doubt about it then, I’m pleased to be here. Seeing the skyline alone just makes me happy. Walking through the laneways, stopping in a quaint little cafe for an always indulgent, occasionally curious breakfast. Various fritters are apparently the new big deal; quinoa, and zucchini and corn, both interesting, both work exceptionally well with perfectly round poached eggs. Jumping on a tram of an evening, heading to a bar with friend where we can indulge in a beer or four that actually has a distinct flavour has been high on the list of things I’ve been looking forward to. I’ll soon be settling back into the routine of city life and frankly, I couldn’t be happier about it. It is, as they say, good to be home!