I knew coming back to Australia would be hard. I anticipated the sinking feeling in my stomach that would mark the trip at an end. I foresaw the weirdness of coming back as somebody’s ex-girlfriend. I even psyched myself up for all the administration that would need to be done (new passport, drivers licence etc). Yet for all the emotional prepping, I still envisioned spending the six weeks at home writing, going on walks with my cat and having fun catch-ups with friends.
As my plane swooped low over Brisbane for what would be the last landing of the trip, I looked out the window and saw the little house where I used to live. And in that moment, I knew “IT” was coming.
“It” being sadness, paranoia, fear, regret and longing (just to name a few). I was sad not to have my own bed to tuck myself into. Paranoid of running into one of the ghosts of my past. Fearful of slipping back to being the person I was when I left. Regretful for not trying harder at my relationships when I was away. Longing to leave this little grey city on the river and never look back.
So instead of being the productive and happy time I had romanticised about, my six weeks at home were mostly spent in my pyjamas on the couch watching Judge Judy with a bowl of brownies in my lap. And yes, there is nothing wrong with having some downtime after a big trip. Pyjamas are the comfiest things on earth, brownies are like sludgy pieces of heaven and damn.. that Judge Judy is fierce. But when one month rolled around and I had nothing to show for it except a couple extra pounds and an increased knowledge of the american legal system, I knew something was wrong with my psychological state of mind.
Call it a slump, culture shock or depression- I was in one and it sucked.
It was like having a little storm cloud over my head but instead of it just raining on me sometimes (cutesy Eeyore style), I felt like it weighed me down, fogged my head and occasionally delivered a sucker punch to my heart.
I stressed about having no money but couldn’t get my butt of the couch to make some. I cried about the kilos I had gained in America but couldn’t find the energy to tie up my jogging shoes. I felt crap knowing my writing was being neglected but couldn’t find the words. Pictures of the Grand Canyon, Las Vegas and L.A sat on my computer tormenting me with the fact that I could never write anything original about the experiences (stupid and untrue). In case you were wondering how pictures can torment a person, it goes a little something like this.
Picture of the Grand Canyon: “HAHA this is the most unoriginal photo ever”
Jo: ” But I really like it. It has pretty colours.”
Picture of the Grand Canyon: “Everyone took this same photo. What could you possible say about it that hasn’t been said before”
Jo: “Well I was going to write about how we did this cool tour, and how we walked along the rim”
Picture of the Grand Canyon: “You look fat”
When not being tormented by photos or comatose in front of the TV, I wrestled with questions about myself. Will I ever be happy settled in one place? Am I perpetually discontent? Am I grateful? Should I be working on a “real” career”? Do I really need to learn how to cook anything other than box brownies? (hopefully not because that ain’t happening..)
Sitting here writing this, I still don’t know the answers to these questions. I don’t know what to do about money. Or my relationships. Or even what to write about on this little blog.
And it is at this part of the blog post that I usually say that I learnt something. Or I might have even come at you with an intricate plan of getting over the slump. Or even a carefully worded apology about how I am sorry for neglecting this blog that I love so much.
Instead, all I can say ( and I’m going to put it in caps so watch out) is that “EVERYTHING IS OKAY“.
Life is crap sometimes. Amazing trips end. Passports are put away. Relationships fizzle away. Just remember that amazing trips also start, passports are dusted off and a new relationship could be just around the corner.
In the meantime, pull up those stripy pyjama bottoms, hug those brownies a little closer and give yourself a freakin’ break.
What was it like coming back from a huge trip for you? Were you okay or did you fall in a heap like me? I would love to know so please write me a comment below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.