Feeling foreign in a different country is something I always enjoy. It gives a sense of renewal. It’s similar to turning to a new page of an unsolved maze or, yes, standing under a new climbing route for an on-sight. It’s like eating up a bowl of delightful uncertainty mixed in with a tinge of adventure sweetened by romantic undertones. The momentary blank slate handed off to me when I step off an international flight allows me to draw up whatever I want but at the same time helps me notice the things I always keep in the background. I get to choose who I want to be and discover who I really am. Sounds like a proverbial statement doesn’t it? It can pass for something out of the pages of a Paulo Coelho novel…or not. I’d rather have a Tolkien kind of story anyways.
There is something different though about my trips to Australia. It is a foreign country to me no doubt. It’s so foreign it’s regarded by most to be on the “other” side of the world short to say in a more than literal kind of way. It is where lefts are rights and to go straight may mean going about it in a roundabout kind of way. It is where there is a strict gun policy implemented in as short as three months, something I think is unheard of. It is where politicians step down from office voluntarily to prove a humanitarian point. What? It is where the sidewalks belong to people and not cars, and it is where you can have gay time all four seasons of the year, eat it and even share it. Strangely I don’t feel foreign there at all.
It can be the language. English is everywhere regardless of cultural diversity. It can be the climbing. Rocks and routes and boulder problems are just a quick tumble down from the next train stop. It can be the small number of malls closing by 5:00p.m., and the abundant and growing number of public parks remaining open 24/7. It can be the people I spent time with and developed strong connections with. In as short as two months, I’ve become attached to the many "it's" that stare me like a mirror. In as short as two months, leaving, something I consider myself fairly familiar with, has become harder and harder.
The land down under didn’t give me the same feel as France, Spain, Italy, China, Japan or Thailand. I’m not disappointed. There’s still Kalymnos, Ha-Long Bay, Hampi and other parts of the world to fill in those voids. How do I feel about Oz? I’m going back there. It’s not to search for the feeling of being lost again. It’s not to search for new ideas or new landscapes. It’ll be to belong to an ideal, to be with people like me, and to be in a place I can become decisively less foreign.