The following day, I made friends with a few girls in my room and we decided to have a beach day, so we moseyed on down to the Rocks to check out the market and then over to Circular Quay where we caught the ferry over to Manly – for what was going to be my last visit to my favorite beach in Sydney. As the ferry approached the harbor, the sun quickly disappeared. The three of us girls made our way down to the beach and ate some lunch, as we watched the gray skies get darker and darker. Of course, we knew the inevitable was going to happen – it was going to rain on our beach day. RAIN ON MY LAST BEACH DAY. Of course it would. Why wouldn’t it?! Even though it was calling for sunny skies all day – the rain came and ruined my last Australian beach day. Oh well, c’est la vie. Life goes on. The girls and I returned back to the hostel where we all decided to get a nice cheap meal at SideBar (the basement bar in our hostel… which has really GOOD cheap meals). Since it was Sunday, we were told that it was the Pool tournament night and all girls who entered the competition get a free drink… so low and behold, before we knew it, the four of us were playing pool against about 25 guys (most of whom knew what they were doing, unlike us). We all held our own and managed to pull of a good showing, but did have our asses handed to us on a platter – ohhhhh well. That night was a fun night of meeting and mingling with other backpackers, complete with copious amount of alcohol. I think it’s fair to say that everyone had a pretty good time that night.
The next day was “mission: Melissa needs to find a dress for the wedding” day. I hit up the stores at the Westfield mall on Pitt Street bright and early (pretty much as soon as they opened). I tried on an excessive number of dresses, none that I liked enough or thought appropriate to be worn to a wedding. After a good 4 or 5 hours of shopping (and anyone who knows me, knows that I absolutely LOATHE shopping to begin with), I gave up. I had planned to meet up with Lionel so he could return some of my stuff that had been left in the car in Melbourne (when I was stuck in the hospital), and we were going to share pics with each other. So we made our way back to my hostel and we did our picture exchange, chatted and then before I knew it, a few hours had passed and he had to make his way back to Manley. I decided to take some time to go out and get a few last minute things that I wanted to bring back with me – a new pair of Havianas, a jar of vegemite and perhaps a few little souvenirs, if I could find any worth buying.
It was coming down to my last evening in beautiful Sydney and wonderful Australia… and I was getting really bummed out about having to leave the next morning. The girls in my room, and I went back down to the SideBar for another cheap but yummy dinner and then headed back to the room. I had to do my final pack and organize the remnants of my backpacking life. Lucy, the British girl in my room, was also kind enough to share some music and movies off of her hard drive to ensure that I was all set for my long plane ride ahead. I went to bed at a fairly decent hour, knowing that I had to be up by 7:30 in order to get to the airport in time to make my flights.
I woke up to my mother calling me the next morning (after all the traveling I’ve done in my life, the 130 cities in 15 countries, she still seems to think that I need a wake up call or I’ll miss my flight… such is not the case). Instead of going back to sleep for another half hour, I took my time getting dressed and double checking that I had everything, before I headed down to the reception to check out. After a quick train ride to the airport and before I knew it, I had my passport and boarding pass in hand and was in line for Australian customs. Now the following thing I did, I do not recommend anyone else do… I was super sad about leaving, like absolutely miserable – and I wasn’t going to hide it. The conversation went as follows:
Customs Agent: What’s wrong? You look so sad.
Me: I don’t want to leave!
Customs Agent: Why are you leaving? Is your visa up?
Me: No! I have a wedding to go to in Florida for one of my best friends and I can’t miss it. But I don’t want to leave Australia! I love it here. In fact, you shouldn’t let me get on the plane. I’m dangerous.
Customs Agent: (laughing) Aww, I’m sure that’s not the case. But why don’t you just find some nice Aussie bloke to marry ya?
Me: Well that was what I was trying to do for the last four months, but it didn’t happen.
Customs Agent: Awww.
Me: Well are YOU single?
Customs Agent: Yeah.
Me: Wanna get married?
Customs Agent: sure! Now? We could go to the chapel upstairs, it’d take 10minutes.
Me: Perfect! Let’s go!
Customs Agent: I’d have to ask my supervisor if I can get 10min off or so… but he’s gone on his break. I guess it’ll just have to wait.
Me: Wait? We can’t just let our love wait.
Customs Agent: I’m sorry, have a nice flight though. Come back when you can and we’ll get married.
Me: (pouting) okay…
I must admit, it was pretty funny, and it was my last ditch effort to try to stay in the country. Alas, before I knew it, I was boarding the plane. I had been given a window seat and was pretty upset about it – I hate window seats. Give me the aisle any day. However, lady luck was partially on my side, as one of the only empty seats on the plane was the middle seat next to me. The older gentleman sitting in the aisle seat was also very kind and pretty much let me have the 2nd seat to curl up on. The fourteen hour flight from Sydney to Vancouver went surprisingly faster than I thought it would –especially considering I only managed to get 1hour or so of sleep.
Now this is where I started to get pretty sneaky – when I was back in the hospital, I had received an email from Aeroplan letting me know that my flight from Chicago to Tampa had been cancelled – since I was in no state to deal with that while sitting in the hospital dying of food poisoning, I had called my dad and asked him to take care of it. He managed to get me a flight to Toronto and then worked it out so that I could fly to Tampa on the same flight as the rest of my family on the Thursday. We agreed to keep this a secret from my mom and sister, so we could surprise them.
So instead of flying from Vancouver to Chicago as per the original schedule, I flew from Vancouver to Toronto and was picked up at the airport by my dad. As I came through the doors from baggage claim, there was my dad, waiting for me with an iced cap from Tim Hortons. I’m not going to lie, it was very nice to see him after being away for four months. We drove home and we decided to surprise my mom by getting my dad to go inside and asking her to go out to the car to get some groceries. She opened the door to the car and just froze. It was hilarious. She didn’t even know what to say or do. And of course she started crying. I guess it’s pretty safe to say that she was happy to see me and very much surprised.
So there you have it, my faithful readers…the conclusion of my four-month journey down under. I’ve now been home for about six weeks, and I miss Australia and New Zealand every single day. Alas, I must get back to real life – at least for now. My goal of figuring out what I want to do with my life didn’t really go over as planned. I was much too busy moving around every few days actually enjoying myself and jamming my days full of fun and adventure to sit and reflect. I hope that I can get another opportunity in the somewhat near future to go on an extended trip and actually figure out what my true calling is. Until then, I can remember the memories and friendships I made while away.
Now Playing: More Than Life by Whitley