You’ve been asked why you haven’t written much about Australia. It’s not that you haven’t been doing anything interesting. You have. You’ve shared drinks with eccentric millionaires. You’ve kissed Navy boys. You’ve attended shows and festivals and house parties. You’ve explored the city and the beaches and the bodies of other people. You’ve pursued new work opportunities and learned new skills and you like to think you’re maybe learning a thing or two about yourself, in that cliched way that always happens when obnoxious Americans go overseas.
But you’re bored.
The things you know you should be excited about don’t excite you. You watch the tourists and backpackers and travelers marvel at this and at that, snapping photos, eagerly discussing their new experiences, but when they turn to you to hear your opinion you have nothing to say. Everything comes out generic. It was “nice.”
And that seems like such a stupid thing to say. You’re 7,500 miles from home, always bordering on broke, always exploring a new job, always meeting new people, but you can’t shake that feeling.
That… boredom. And not just boredom, the worry. You see a country that parallels the United States, but that respects and values its workers and its education and its health, and you worry about how long it will last. You see minor American influences and worry that it will fuck up this country the same way it fucked up a land you haven’t been proud to call home since you were ten years old. Your brain contracts and twists as you remember being eleven years old and rehearsing for a God, Flag and Country speech that required you to support the three things you had the least faith in. You probably got an A or a B on it. You were always a good student. You always said what your teachers wanted you to say.
You notice that something as simple as being bored during a night of drinking in Chinatown will drag you through bizarre memories of middle school and dread for the future of a country that you aren’t even a citizen of. One of your friends, a boy from the Netherlands who brings a positive demeanor to every moment has learned to detect when you start to detach yourself from reality and suggests a cigarette break every time. You don’t smoke but you always go with him.
Standing outside a bar in Chinatown, you stand with him in silence as he rolls a cigarette on a windowsill.
“Usually we talk more,” you say, referencing your tradition of using smoke breaks as an excuse to chat. It’s a tradition you’ve shared with dozens of friends over the years.
“When you talk you don’t breathe,” he says.
You stay silent. Inhale. Exhale. Drink. Repeat.
As he finishes his cigarette you tell him you’re going to spend a few more minutes outside. He leaves a nicotine kiss on your cheek and goes inside.
It’s difficult to explain the combination of boredom and worry that resides within you, because to others they seem like opposing forces. They are, but that’s how your body and mind have always worked. You’re a Gemini, and the twins that reside within you are always eager to wrestle. Someday you will stop hiding behind the words “boredom” and “worry” to describe what you’re experiencing. Today is not that day.
Each day is an attempt to reclaim your wonder for the world.
And now, as you’re just over a month away from leaving Australia and returning home, you have.
This time you’ll have to work a little harder to protect it.