Blue shoes back on American grounds

It’s been six days since I’ve been back, right side up, one among the blend of American accents in my home of the states. UGH, back in Florida.

There are some advantages of being home; The bananas are about $10 cheaper here,noted by the stash taking residence on my kitchen counter. And the Starbuck’s cup of coffee (blame the jet lag on my recent return to caffeine) priced at $1.65, a contrast to the $3.80 AUD I’d been paying while in Melbourne. My Chi, the goddess of all hair straighteners, WORKS here in the states and I’m finally wearing dresses and flip-flops again, a nice touch after seven weeks of winter boots and workplace gear.

Returning home makes my summer in Australia seem so distant. Australia is far away, both physically and by frame of time (15 hours difference: the states is awake while Australia sleeps.). It’s hard to picture Kings Cross alive with its hustle of traffic by day, its slew of inebriated crowd by night. It’s odd to think that the company I spent six weeks interning at, continues its regular business functions… How someone else will continue the articles I once spent my workdays slaving over. It’s difficult to picture that life in Australia continues while I’m home in the suburbs of Florida, back to my life as a college student appreciating the freedom of her summer yet missing the experience of her time abroad.

I’ve taken much away from my summer experience. It was a summer of growing up, of moving past the usual of my camp environment (hereeee I go again), stepping into the shoes of a grown up, with a full time job and a depleting bank account. And for the first time, I’m left with a real sense of my position, of my purpose within the stage I presently am in this chapter of my life.

Mark had once mentioned to me that each stage of life is special and unique, a part of our lives that is vital to appreciate in the moment, rather than moments to look back on with sadness of the time passed. After the moment has gone, it’s only the memories that remain; it becomes our decision to either hold on to the memories with nostalgia or to look back with a sense of gratitude for the times we once had, its influence on the person we have now become. 

Camp wasn’t the chapter for this summer’s experience, a factor I struggled with throughout my summer and one that I pushed myself to eventually come to terms with. I had no space to dwell on my separation from camp and I came to realize I’d have to shelf the struggle to fully appreciate the uniqueness of my experience. Nostalgia is a form of sadness, sadness for the times left behind rather than the admiration of the moments up ahead. If I still wanted camp to be a part of me, I’d have to apply rather than dote on the memories of the past. Keyword: past. I’m in the present, the here, the now. I’m living and developing today’s chapter each second of the day, each moment of my life. Life’s pages flip over, but it’ never a new plot; the plot continues, formulated over the stories of our days, the experiences of our lives. You miss the moment by dwelling on the past. How to keep your memories with you? Gratitude, I believe, is the secret… gratitude for the past in taking you to where you are today.

In terms of The Future, why try to see ahead? Why worry about life after college? I have two years left of my undergraduate studies… I need to appreciate these years NOW without holding on to my past two years and without trying to picture my life as a post graduate. Worry and stress aside, it’s kind of exciting having an open plan for the rest of my life. For now, I’m a college student obsessed with her life in DC with hopes of traveling the world (and meeting the rich, Jewish husband while doing so. Duh.). 10, 20, 50 years down the line… who knows where I’ll be? Who knows where I’ll live, where my career will take me, if I’ll have a family of my own. But who cares for now. That’s all for a later chapter and right now, I’m in no hurry to race through the moment of today.

The freedom of being home is exhilarating. There’s no 9- 5:30 restriction here. I’m aware that I’m still not ready for the confinement a workday brings about. Mark told me not to worry; One day I will be ready… That psychologically, we all grow, we all change, we all develop. The set hours of the workday will add consistency to my life in the future. And someday, Mark said, I will come to appreciate it. Someday, not now.

What else I learned this summer? My summer in Australia was about learning the culture of a world so far removed from my home in the states, yet so similar by initial glance. I learned that an open mind coupled with a desire to absorb the difference of a foreign life is a necessity when living abroad.

I’ve learned that sometimes it’s the individuals you spend a few days with who can have more of an influence on you than the individuals you spend a six week long program with. People come into your life for all reasons. Never doubt someone’s potential, the part they can play in the story of your experiences. Take every advantage you’re provided with to discover others, to move past the superficial conversations and delve into the inner workings of another. The individuals I met on my Ayers Rock outback safari were a group of 24 who marked me with their courage to explore an area whilst not being native English speakers. Take with you the lessons you learn from others who are or have been in your shoes.

I’ve learned that it’s alright to spend money on something that speaks to your passion. Spending my savings on my travels in Australia has left me with comfort of knowing my savings were allocated towards something I truly wanted, not a waste I’d eventually tire of. I’ve learned that there’s not much purpose for saving without a goal for spending. Travel, I’ve decided, is now my goal.

I’ve learned that my blue shoes aren’t really walking shoes and that it’s best I air them out after each time I wear them. (They've accumulated a slight stench over the past few months of wear.) I’ve learned that it’s in fact somewhat difficult to take a picture of the shoes in front of a landmark, that my leg doesn’t stretch high enough for a picture of the shoes with the Opera House.

I’ve learned that an idea can in fact take launch: that this blog, started in the confines of my bedroom, has attracted a range of visitors. The comments I’ve received from readers have meant the world to me… and for those of you who have done so, I sincerely thank you. I’ve learned not to worry to publish my written words on an online medium, that it’s part of the process I must take in my path of becoming a writer.

Above all, I’ve learned that it doesn’t only take a trip abroad, a trip to the other side of the world, to help you discover the peculiarities of yourself. It’s more about the experiences you set yourself upon during your years of growing up; Mine just happen to be about my travels… thankfully, given that it’s the theme of this blog, a blog I’ve used as a way to test out my skills as a potential, future writer.

I return to DC next week and couldn’t be more excited. It’ll be a semester long stay in the district prior to the continuation of my travels, this time with four months study in Paris, France and a summer stay somewhere in Europe with some sort of summer job. (The latter part of the plan is still in the works.)

My return to the states is by no means cause for a hiatus to The Girl with the Traveling Blue Shoes. DC, after all, is really not that boring of a place to be (correction: I’m obsessed with DC). I have a slight inkling that this girl and her traveling blue shoes will come across a thing or two to update her blog with.

Until then, I bid you all sweet dreams. I sincerely thank you all for being loyal followers, for stepping along for the ride of my travels this summer in the world down under. 

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