July 28, 2017

Officially An Expat

I’ve just arrived at the Brisbane airport and am therefore officially an expatriate in Australia. I'm contemplating some emotions as I wait for my connecting flight to Cairns in the Northeast corner of the country.

Since I stopped working three weeks ago, I’ve waited for the reality to set in, for the full realization of this endeavor to sink in. And even as I sit in the Brisbane airport my emotions feel unchanged. I’m fully aware of what the next twelve months will entail but it doesn’t appear that my emotions have caught up with reality. Sure I’m excited about a long holiday (which is still my view point) and I shed many tears over my goodbyes. But there’s no fear or anxiety, and that to me seems odd.  

As someone who typically over plans even the smallest of trips I’ve landed in Australia pretty blind. My lodging after I arrive in Cairns was confirmed less than 24 hours before heading to O’Hare Airport. And while I have at least confirm my first two WWOOF placements, I have four days in Cairns to settle in before that starts. And I have no to do list - no sights, restaurants or photo ops. What I’ve got is my bags and a place to sleep.

I can’t wrap my head around why I’m so calm about my lack of plans. Typically when flying, halfway to the airport I get a sinking feeling in my stomach as I worry about missing my flight. And I get the same feeling when trying to navigate unfamiliar airports while catching a connection. Any unknown will put me on edge when traveling; I’m constantly alert. Yet I have felt none of those worries since my travel to Australia started 25 hours ago.

I’ve got three rationales I’m tossing around. One, for once time is on my side. I have a year to get things done instead of a few days. Maybe I’m taking a laissez-faire approach because right now I would struggle to tell you what day it is, and I've got not clue on the date. Three weeks off work has been bliss – retired life is amazing. I’ve got one year (or until the money runs out) to be in control of where I go and when.

And second, it’s possible I’m already prepared to roll with the punches, to just see what happens. That would be a huge change to my normal mindset but it will definitely be a skill needed over the next year. While I have a tentative schedule I’m fully aware things will change as unexpected opportunities pop up. So I have to be prepared to accept change. 

Third, I’m freaking tired. This jaunt across Australia has been in the works for seven months now and I’m tired. While I’ve done little planning for what happens after I arrive, tying up loose ends in Chicago seemed never ending. I know a few days of relaxation would do me a lot of benefit.

It’s probably a mix of things. But it’s a good feeling to get here and be completely at ease with the decision to up-root my life to become a rambling farmer. I’m ready to get this adventure started. Now if only I could figure out how I’ll find my first host after I land in Cairns… no contact info and no cell service. Who is this mellow person!?

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