About seven months ago I found myself on a plane back to Australia from Bogota, Colombia. I wasn’t ready to come back, actually I didn’t want to come back, but unfortunately (and fortunately) my lack of a permanent visa meant I had to pack up my life and head back “home”.
At that time, “home” wasn’t Australia. It was in an apartment on a busy street in Colombia’s capital city. Home was looking up at the mountains surrounding the city and being OK with getting lost; home was taking a risk and living a dream; home was a hard place to live and a whole lot of personal growth and satisfaction.
I arrived back in Australia in August last year and took refuge in my parents’ house in the suburbs. Waiting for me there, along with the family dog Millie, was a box of my belongings: a couple of newspaper clippings, some clothing, books and a couple of items I’d been gifted over the years.
Months had passed before I felt the sudden yet familiar pang for closure and purpose. I looked around and saw that nothing around me was mine. I didn’t have a room to call my own, not a drawer, not a nook that I felt was mine and mine alone. I felt like I didn’t have anything, you know, like physical proof that I existed, that I had accomplished something, that I was something.
This made me feel defeated and I began to fiercely and unapologetically grab at anything I could.
Where’s that painting I received while working at the magazine?
Where’s my acoustic guitar?
Will that person, that friend, that lover, ever give back the money I lent them?
I was grasping things that I felt would prove my identity, things I could identify as success, things that made me feel like I had something, that I was worth something, that my life hadn’t been reduced to a couple of faded books and old clothing in a cardboard box.
I haven’t found that guitar or that painting, I haven’t received that money, and slowly I’ve realised it doesn’t matter; it’s time to let go and move forward.
Sure, I’d love to strum that old guitar until my fingers callous, but that’s just not going to happen.
I’d really like to see that painting hanging on my wall at some point, as a reminder of my first interview as a writer for a magazine; or maybe it’s more shallow than that, maybe I just want a nice piece of art on the wall just for the sake of having a nice piece of art on the wall.
But it isn’t going to be hanging on my wall, because it too is gone.
And while I hope one day I will check my bank account and see a couple of extra pennies to my name, I’m done losing sleep wondering when it will happen.
If I continue to hold on to all the heaviness, all the longing for things lost, all the memories of time passed, what will I make of the present?
Why am I wasting my time? I found myself wondering one night in bed.
Why didn’t I do this sooner? I thought, before slowly and peacefully drifting off to sleep.