I love to travel.
One of my lifelong dreams is to travel to Australia.
In fact, as a high schooler, my mature life plan was to learn about seven languages and work on a cruise ship and just meet the people of the world as I traveled for the rest of my life.
Don’t get me wrong, it would still be amazing to fulfill that dream, but my guess is cruise ship attendants probably don’t make a whole lot, and I have kids and a life here that are kinda sorta way more important, but a girl can dream, can’t she?!?
Anyways, my mind has been drifting off to Australia as I make my commute lately. I dream of barbies, beaches, the vastness, the rain forests and the outback and shark cages. I know my self diagnosed anxiety has subsided when I dream of actually reaching that goal instead of being freaked out by the toilet sized spiders and killer sea serpents.
But honestly, most of all I dream of the people.
I imagine simple sentences in what I imagine to be an Aussie accent, smiling to myself, wondering if the farm report would be more entertaining if I had to focus intently on the timbre and cadence of a foreign tongue. I imagine being out of my element and in a fascinating new environment. I imagine everyone good looking, taking weekend trips to Melbourne like they’re all rich and gallivanting around cheerfully.
I imagine making friends with strangers, learning their speech and linguistic anthropology, learning what makes the heart of Aussies beat: what is their collective passion? Why are barbies so incredibly intertwined with the Australian way? What makes this nation of once throw away felons into such a beautiful land of endless possibilities?
I have many friends who seemed surprised by this admission. My friends came from different families where traveling was encouraged and financed. One friend spent a college semester in London, another in Paris, another in Madrid. One friend does missions work in hurricane torn areas of the planet, another does missions work south of the Texas border, and another spent years in Africa, again, doing missions work.
My affluent small community has spread their wings and flown to places beyond my wildest imagination. But I’ve never left the country.
In college I made a friend who loved to travel, much like me :D. We took her car out west attempting Yellowstone, but when our car broke down on the side of a steep mountain road with no cell service, we cut our trip a little short (though reaching the destination during my honeymoon with my husband a few years later).
Another time I got a few friends talked into going a state over; it was amazing. I took church trips to LA and a school trip to Orlando and even saw a friend get married just north of New Orleans. I spent a week in the wilderness that is Northern Minnesota, I canoed nearly a hundred miles down the St. Croix river, and I visit my sister in the big city of Des Moines, Iowa.
But I’ve never left the country. Not even to Canada which is our northern border. (Though I one time swam to its shores illegally while camping in Northern MN and planted my foot for the briefest second before swimming back, but shhhh, don’t tell anyone.)
So, back to the beginning of this rambling thought. I have never been to Australia, though deep in my soul that is where I long to go. But not just for a few days or a touristy week or two, but a good few months to really explore the culture that makes up the incredible Australians.
For the first time in my adult life, I typed the word into a search bar and let my fingers do the exploring.
Without a doubt this has given me more to chew on during the long drives to and from work than anything else in recent history. I now think about the particular parks and beaches mentioned, expanding my beach frame of thought from something white sand outside Melbourne to one of the secret little coves or beaches that you can actually drive on or one with a scenic backdrop unmatched in its grandeur.
What I avoided while googling this great continent were the posts explaining their language. Yes, it’s what I think about most, the people, the language, the culture, but I find that I want to experience it more than I want to learn about it. I want the fantasies in my head to stay alive until the day I reach its shores. I don’t want to ruin it with knowledge.
That thought is amazing to me. I love to read. I love to learn. So the thought that I don’t want to read or learn about the thing that interests me the most,well, that interests me, too.
Am I afraid to squelch the fantasy? It will become too real, I will realize the people are too much like our own (which are awesome, btw). Am I afraid that going there all smartly will lessen the excitement of the adventure? Am I afraid that I will make wrong assumptions and have an incorrect frame of reference should this dream ever come to fruition?
I don’t know. But I do know that for the first time in my adult life I googled the fantasy, bringing it back to life, making it seem more of a reality than a fantasy, and that thought excites me thoroughly.
Maybe someday Paris or Madrid or Tokyo or London or Dubai or Venice, all on the list, too, but my heart is set on Melbourne and its arts district and Sydney with its opera house and its harbor, and all those little towns with outbacks and rain forests and people.
So now, I just gotta hurry up and graduate so I can start making money again 😉