I've travelled for so long that there is nothing more beautiful to me, than the memory of arriving, of belonging. I know how it feels, but not how I can recreate it. I've been in Sydney for five months, and yet it takes ages to find my place. I settled in with my job and my shared flat, I know how to get around the city and still, I'm just visiting. It's like my head hasn't caught up yet. It takes a long time to settle (and I'll probably have to wait much longer). I'm restless.
The ten kilometres to my job, I've walked in one go once and in parts often. I now manage to relax on the bus and read without fear of missing my stop. It has happened more than once that I looked out of the bus window, deeply engrossed in my book, only to realise I had driven too far or gotten off the bus prematurely. Now, I don't even have to raise my head to check where I am. The colour of a wall in the outermost corner of my field of vision is enough to tell me how far there still is to go.
The feeling of home, however, does not settle with the growing familiarity of my surroundings. I decide to do everything in my power to lure my wandering heart into its new nest. I invest in my mother's washing powder, order clothes from my favourite labels to rebuild my travel wardrobe into something that suits my new work environment (a process lasting several months) and enrol in an improvisation course. Somewhere I have to get to know the right people and why not try something new? So far, I have mostly met other Europeans and only one Australian to whom I feel the pull of friendship, a circumstance that irks me. What makes it so challenging to get to know these people?
The first improvisation course is brain gymnastics, but just exciting enough that I enrol for a full term, which begins two months later. I'm waiting patiently. It's a lot of fun to get creative with random people without the lurking presence of failure. I feel like I'm right where I'm supposed to be. I'm not very good at improvising, but that's what makes it so attractive to me. If it works, it gives me wings. It's hard to describe. I won't even try. "No, but" and "Yes, and" are little words whose function and effect are only slowly becoming clear to me. It's about trying, and only that leads to understanding — an attitude after my own heart and something I would not have tried in Germany. It's not all bad.
My life in Sydney is never full or merry, and that's OK. I've never been one who's comfortable in crowds, and most things here are done in groups. The question if I want to stop travelling and go back home, spend time with my friends and family, pops up again and again. It makes me wonder if I wanted to stay here at all if it was not about money. And of course, the honest answer to this question is no. The life I'm living is not in any way connected to my lofty and romantic ideals. And even though these thoughts waft around in me, they are not persistent enough to make me decide. I stay. After all, it's rarely bad, just never GREAT.
Recently, I watched a series on Australian television that weaved a narrative around the first colonial settlers, and I had to turn it off. I could not face the sad reality of the colonial beginnings, even within a clean-washed Hollywood version. The injustice, the lust-driven behaviour and the system-sanctioned violence are to close to what I experience here. It makes me shudder. I encounter this country through the eyes of an immigrant. Although I have at no point planned to make this my permanent home, that doesn't change the way they see me. Too many people before me have stayed. It's a lesson and another living reality I get to experience on my journey. Here in Australia, I automatically start from zero. Neither class nor family plays a role. People see me for what I am, and that's not much.
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