2am, 26th December 2015
The night which had only really just begun a couple of hours ago, given the end of Christmas festivities, was suddenly ablaze with lights and rustling through suitcases last-minute. To bring my Hunter Boots or not to bring my Hunter Boots? They make the cut, but a couple of flimsy jumpers get strewn across the hallway in my rush.
I popped into my bedroom for one last look around as it neared 3am. My eyes scanned the baby pink wall, the black and white canvas of my late cat, the heaped pillows I could hardly bear to leave here but could not justify fitting in my luggage. I wouldn’t see this place for months and months, and I hardly knew just how lucky I was to have such a cosy bed, for University mattresses certainly don’t compete. Ahhhh, little did I know…
The driver pulled up just past 3am, and I pulled myself together as we drove off into the dead of night, through Sydney’s dark streets I knew so well. Familiarity was a comfort, and one which I would not have the pleasure of knowing for weeks before I found my place in England.
It was 4:30am when, just as we had passed through security, we received frantic phone calls from family: “We’re here, don’t tell us you’ve already gone through customs?!”
We raced out of the Emirates lounge and towards the long glass walls we knew looked onto the airport food court. Lo and behold, waiting there tragically on the other side of the wall were my cousins, aunty and uncle, haggard after little sleep, with incredulity written across everyone’s faces. How on earth had we managed to miss them?!?! And God, what a surprise that they’d woken up so bloody early!
What followed next was the best moment of this entire departure: 6 phones, 7 people, speaking from across the deadening glass wall, hands touching glass as the moment to say goodbye finally dawned. My hands penned a letter to myself – to be opened in 6 months time on my return home – as I curled up with tears glistening out the corner of my eyes, watching Sydney grow ever smaller as the plane lifted off into the sky.
3pm, 17th April 2016
Huddled around a booth in the Sydney Kingsford Smith International Airport, we munched on sushi and coffees, awaiting the time when I would have to say my goodbyes to my wonderful parents and head on through security. I was antsy – as I always am before a flight – but the difference between how I felt now, in April, compared to the butterflies I had been feeling in December was incredible. Lancaster had become a second home. I had a bedroom full of my own things, a wardrobe stuffed with clothes. I was going back to a boyfriend, and a wonderful group of friends from all over the world. I had a week in London to look forward to, as well as time in Paris the week after that. Everything had changed…
My mum held me tight as we stop beside the infamous Departure sign right outside of the security gates.
“Don’t you go falling in love and staying in England!” she warned.
“Never,” I promised, giving her a final squeeze before passing through the gates and heading to what was an even bigger adventure than the last 4 months had been xx