S likes to say, there are years when nothing happens… then years where everything happens all at once. 2021 was the latter.
I originally wanted to do a super detailed end-of-year blog post that everyone used to do back in our Livejournal days, but… eh. Too time-consuming, and a bit too personal. I guess I’m no longer the teenage girl who would gladly share each and every detail of her life. 😛
Instead, I thought about what this year meant to me… and that would be coming home.
Around 10 years ago, when I first moved overseas, I read an article about how the nice thing about living overseas was that there was always someone waiting to greet you on the other side. A nice sentiment, but I would feel sorry for myself because I didn’t feel like it applied to me.
Sure, whenever I went back to the Philippines, my family would give me a grand welcome. But whenever I went back to the US, then Australia? There would be nobody to meet me at the gates. I’d take public transportation back to an empty apartment. I did recognise how lucky I was, being able to live in this lucky country, and having my own place to go back to… but I’m not going to deny it wasn’t lonely at times, and arriving to nobody was one of those times. I had friends, work, community… but I felt that I could decide to move elsewhere in the next month, and it was a little sad that I didn’t feel strongly about anything that would make me stay.
I went to the US for work this December. It was a strange feeling, travelling again. I went to California first, to catch up with friends and family, then Arizona, for a work offsite. It was good to see everyone, some (like the next generation of kiddos, and my coworkers!) for the first time… it was good to eat all my favourite American food and bask in a different culture.
Everything went swimmingly until I got towards the end of my trip, when all these things started happening which made me worried I wouldn’t be able to go home.
First was Omicron, which had been an increasing cloud, the threat of the Australian government imposing new guidelines and restrictions hanging like the sword of Damocles. Second, a false positive COVID test a few days before I flew out. (Fortunately, I got a negative test the next day – the first of four negatives since then – so it really was a false positive.) Third, my connecting flight got mechanical failure and we had to wait for a new aircraft. And then… I was just generally being paranoid that the Australian government, strict as they are, would prevent me from boarding because of the false positive test. There was also turbulence on the plane… turbulence, I’ve never gotten used to.
All throughout that time, I kept opening a photo that S had sent me. It was our dear little house during twilight. There was an outline of our rescue pup waiting patiently in the doorway. All I wanted so much that it hurt was to be back there.
Obviously, it all turned out well. I arrived back in Sydney safely, with nothing to show for the “ordeal” but three days of home quarantine. When I got home, there was a bouquet of fresh flowers on the bedside table, and a happy dog with a wide grin and a very waggy tail. And of course, S.
It’s been three weeks since I arrived and things have gone back to normal. But I can still remember, vividly, the ache of wanting to be home, of wanting to go back into my everyday life. And that sums up my 2021. Finding home, coming home, creating our home. I’m filled with immense gratitude and I hope that I never, ever take this life we’ve created for ourselves for granted.
So that’s it for 2021. 2022, I’m ready for you.