Still recoiling from Trousergate, I flew from Cairns to Gold Coast to meet Andrew the Aussie. I made my way over to the carousel to pick up my backpack, so I could start another new adventure! Ten minutes later, I was still at the carousel. Round and round it went, and still.. my bag was nowhere to be found. In my carry on bag, all I had was my purse, passport, 5 books, eye-liner and mascara. That would NOT get me very far. I could feel panic rising inside of me and worried thoughts were whizzing about in my head at the speed of lightning. ‘****.’, ‘What am I going to wear?’, ‘Why is my life so difficult?’, ‘That’s it. I’ve had enough. I’m going back to England.’, ‘Where’s my insurance form? Oh, ****. It was in the bag too.’, ‘Shut up, Abigail – don’t be a drama queen. You have an email copy.’, ‘Don’t tell me to shut up. My life was in that bag.’ ‘YOU shut up. Shorts that people often think is actually a belt, six generic black vests, slutty dresses, rugby tops that you will soon come to regret bringing because it’s too hot for Australia – you dumbass, and 600 contact lenses.. that’s your life? Really? You materialistic *****.’, ‘I swear to God, I would punch you in the face if you weren’t me.’ After I snapped out of my little dramatic Jan Brady moment, I realised that my bag had arrived. Phew. I made my way outside and waited for Andrew to arrive. He arrived soon after, with a husky in tow.. I instantly fell in love. With Jess the husky, that is.. not Andrew. Gold Coast was amazing. We went for a stroll on the beach and saw about ten whales splashing around.. or maybe it was two whales jumping up and down five times..? We had a couple of drinks, more strolling, a bit of perving, strolling and drinking – it was just what I needed. Afterwards, we made our way to Byron Bay, which was as equally amazing. The views were to die for. I saw some more whales and felt quite smug, as Rikki had gone whale watching a few days before for $80, and here I was – surrounded by whales in close proximity, for free. Then began the long and arduous 10 hours drive to Sydney.. well, for Andrew – I just slept in the passenger seat, mumbling and dribbling. We soon washed away the stress and pain by taking a dip into the Jacuzzi.. bliss. Sydney! The first week passed quickly as Andrew showed me the beaches, a Mustang garage, the city, pubs, restaurants and so on. The weather was glorious and I enjoyed myself a lot. The first weekend was the International Fleet Review, which meant up to 40 warships, 16 tall ships and 8,000 naval personnel from more than 20 nations would converge at Sydney Harbour and celebrate. Celebrate what exactly…? I wasn’t sure, but as long as I saw some sexy female sailors, I was in. Oh boy.. little did I know. Andrew thought he would start off by introducing me to his drinking ground, The Rocks. I’m not proud to say we chugged an unreasonable amount of alcohol, made acquaintances with some strange people (like I said to someone earlier on, I always tend attract the weirdos, the elderly and the middle aged transsexuals) before I dragged him to a gay nightclub with Laura, where I jumped into a cage with 6 half naked gyrating men and a lady, and started dancing and twerking. The shame.. the next day, I could not move, speak or eat. Served me right. PLUS, I saw no sexy female sailors. The week after that was a chilled out one, I went to a BBQ, visited the city, curled up into a ball and watched TV, chilled by the pool. It was a nice week, but too much time on your own can make you think about everything and nothing. More to come about that later on at the end. The weekend, however, was a different story. Sydney brings out the animalistic side in me, it would seem so. I decided to go out with Sammy and Laura to a lesbian nightclub – Snatch and Grab. I was responsible for getting the goon. Goon? What’s that? Well, most people in Australia know it, most backpackers drink it almost daily – it’s basically wine in a box and it ***** you up. What was meant to be a 5 minutes walk to the shop ended up being an hour’s journey – aimlessly walking around the city in search for the goon. I was sent on a wild ‘goon’ chase, I guess you could say.. finally, goon was purchased and chugged – we made our way to the club and danced all night. Shots after shots, spirits after spirits.. the night ended with me trying to break into a massive JCB digger. I told you, the goon ***** you up. On Sunday, Andrew said he would be visiting a guy to sort out his hearing aids, and then he would watch cricket. I jumped at the chance of visiting an audiologist – I hoped he would be able to fix my hearing aids.. so, I hopped in the car and we drove to see the audiologist. The audiologist was NOT helpful, despite his best intentions. “This is a rubbish hearing aid.” “I was told that it was the top of the range?” “Well, it’s not. There are better hearing aids out there.” “Well in England, this is the best one?” “Well, in Australia, it’s not. Let me see, which is the best one..?” “Ok, so it’s not the best here. That’s fine. However, can you fix it?” “No. Here’s the number of a guy. He might not be able to fix it, but..” I tried my best to not cry and hit him for luring me into a debate about my so-called ****** hearing aid and then demolishing me by saying he couldn’t fix it. However, before I went to see him, I did prepare myself for the fact that he might not be able to fix it, but I wasn’t banking on my reaction on the way back.. I was surprised because I got a bit teary. Functioning on just one hearing aid that I’m still not used to because it hasn’t been programmed properly in a new country full of strangers is overwhelming. I slapped myself out of it and tried to enjoy the sunny day. Andrew pulled up at the North Sydney Oval ground. When he said he would be watching cricket, I had assumed that we would be watching on the television. He had tricked me and there was no escape. I thought it would be fun to watch Queensland play against Victoria for an hour or two. How wrong I was.. During the fifth hour of cricket..! I was sitting in the back of the stadium, next to the Victoria team, when I saw a guy in his forties with learning difficulties making his way up the stands. He was clutching his bag and a notepad. It was obvious he was an avid collector of signatures, having made his way around the Oval earlier with the Queensland team. He sat in the row next to me, nervously holding his notepad. I could see him glancing at the Victoria team, hoping to make eye contact. They were all engrossed into the game to even notice him. He started muttering and fidgeting, and I could feel my heart strings pulling. It was obvious he was very anxious and nervous. He stood up, and took a few steps and halted – turned around and saw down. He had lost his nerves. All the while, I was sitting there – watching.. willing him to take that extra step, but he couldn’t do it. He repeated this about 3 or 4 times, and every time he stood up, I felt like an anxious mother at the first day of school – watching her little boy nervously approaching a group of children, praying he wouldn’t get rejected. At that moment, I realised at some point in our lives, we all were that guy, We’ve all faced rejection, we’ve all been judged, we’ve all been laughed at (me more than most, that’s for sure) and vice versa. We’ve rejected people, we’ve judged people and we’ve laughed at people, sometimes without realising and we don’t realise the repercussions of it. Sometimes, we should hit the pause button and take the time to reflect on our actions before we react. It could make all the difference to a person’s confidence, their attitudes and their lives. What happened in the end? Well, the guy was like Thomas, the little engine who could. He ignored his anxiety, his insecurities, stood up and walked over to the team and asked for their signatures. I felt like Jenny in ‘Forrest Gump’ – I was silently shouting, “Run Geoffrey, run!” in my head (I don’t know what his name was but he looked like a Geoffrey to me) and smiled as he returned to his seat, proud as Punch. Travelling on my own has certainly given me a lot of food for
thought – there’s no sense of familiarity, no support network and no set routine. Therefore I’m constantly analysing myself and my actions, current and past. By doing this, I’ve come to realise some ugly truths, about myself and others, irrational and not so irrational doubts and issues reared its ugly head. I’m constantly doubting myself and my confidence has taken a battering, what with my hearing aids not working. It hasn’t been easy and at times I’ve felt like a **** – why am I putting myself through this when I could easily be back at home in England, with my family and friends..? But.. every time I start to panic, I take a deep breath and remind myself that I’ve also realised my strengths, I’ve come to admire my morals, my convictions and determination. When you travel, you learn a lot about responsibility; you become very aware of people in terms of kindness and respect – towards yourself and for them, you become aware of safety – your own for the sake of the people who care for you, and others. You become aware of every action and it’s good. As time goes by, you’ll analyse, cry, laugh and peel back layers and layers of yourself, and you’ll find the person you’re meant to be. It’s certainly character building, and will hold you in good steed for the future. When you’re travelling, you are what you are, right there and then. People don’t have your past to hold against you. No yesterdays on the road. Make the most of it. With that being said, I’ve enjoyed Sydney, but it’s time for me to fly once again. Next destination? Melbourne.