life story | a journey of two thousand miles

Friday, January 26, 2018


Security checks, lounge areas, and suitcases wheeled across the floor. Different heads turning in search of direction. Coffee machines, fluorescent lights, and the buzzing chatter of strangers. Through the scene, a girl walks through the terminal, two boarding passes tucked neatly in a passport. Over her shoulders an overstuffed backpack, and tied around her waist is a dark blue hooded jacket.

Her feet pace. Her heart beats. A journey both fun, and too bittersweet. Only holding on to a tiny hope within, that up there where she's going, a new life will begin.

---

4:25 PM (WIB)

Wipe your face wipe your face wipe your face, I told myself when I realized I was about to enter security check with tears still rolling down my cheeks. Only minutes after a tearful farewell with my loved ones, I hurriedly placed my bags onto a conveyor belt and walked through a machine, all while trying my best to avoid another crying episode. The officer glanced at me with a look of pity. Pull yourself together, I finally thought. It was embarrassing to walk through security as a teary-eyed mess.

They're all still downstairs, I couldn't help but think, as I was seated in the waiting room. You could just end everything, stop and turn around, walk out and into their arms. In an alternate universe, you could reach your dreams without leaving anyone behind. 

I was pushed back into reality when the speakers started to sound. Tickets scanned, I walked past the gate, and the alternate universe was nowhere to be found.

5:15 PM 

Minutes later, I was seated in probably the smallest plane I'd ever been in. The airstair had no more than 10 steps to the door, and my row number, 21, was apparently placed directly behind row 8, causing me to turn around in the aisle because I missed it by a few steps. Of course, after 8, comes 21. Why didn't I think of that? It's like they'd origami-folded the plane in half.

To my layover destination, Bali, a flight from my city would only take about 45 minutes. I'd brought a book with me (re: travel necessity), yet only managed to read the first ten pages. My eyes were fixated on the window, showing me a bird's eye view of the city I was born and raised in. Floating past the rice fields and rooftops, I thought of nothing else but my family and friends. The people that formed a world, and the world that I had to leave. 

My mind raced with bits of memories; small "last" moments inviting reminiscence. The one thing I had to bring on this trip, that I never had to bring on any previous travels, was the reminder that there wasn't going to be a flight back home this time. It was no wonder I couldn't read, or eat the free airline bread. So I just sat back, relaxed, and let the feelings come instead.

7:00 PM (WITA)

Eager to get off the plane, I sighed with relief once I stepped on the tarmac. Partly for a safe flight, but also partly because I'm pretty sure the plane was turning me claustrophobic.

And on I went, into Bali's domestic airport, following the stream of people because it usually leads you to the right places. I found an arrival service counter and asked the young man on how to get to the international terminal. 

One of the things I dreaded about this trip was the need to talk to strangers or staff so frequently– mostly for directions. Traveling alone is great, but traveling alone with the need to socialize and interact with people every now and then was challenging. I kept doing it anyway, because I had to. I mean if we don't ask strangers for directions we can lose our way and die or whatever, right?

7:40 PM

Making my way to the terminal included walking through multiple, long, winding hallways in the airport. Empty with no humans in sight, encountering only the occasional wall art and lit-up arrows leading the way. 

On the long walk I noticed a family of three trailing behind me; a mother, a father, and a teenage boy, with multiple bags on their hands. He was obviously a college student, with his parents accompanying him for the move. Can't say I didn't feel slightly mocked to be a girl with only my suitcase to keep me company.

The international terminal of Bali's Ngurah Rai airport was large and newly built. Glass ceilings, clean counters, and about a hundred different stores and dining spots. Had I been with my family, I would've enjoyed it. I would've taken a look around, shop and eat like it was a typical night out. But it wasn't. I had a plane to catch.

International terminals perfectly encapsulate what I love most about airports; a sea of hundreds of people from all walks of life, each with different backgrounds, all heading to different places, and thinking of different plans. Bali's, especially, did not disappoint. You see businessmen in transit, families shouting in foreign languages, tourists with braids and tattoos, carrying surf boards from their summer vacation. It's chaotic but it leaves me in a trance; how everything seen is so wildly diverse, and how every person around me would be miles away by morning.

8:10 PM

What now? I had about an hour left before I needed to board my plane. I wasn't going to shop duty-free, because what was I supposed to do with Dior fragrances and bottles of wine? I decided to sit in a nearby cafeteria. After spotting a table, it meant I had to purchase something. I hadn't eaten in 9 hours, so I decided that 8 PM was a pretty reasonable dinner time. 

Fast forward to about an hour later, after ordering an overpriced airport sandwich, sitting down reading and replying to the encouraging messages I got on my phone (bless your souls), and giving my free airline bread to the cleaning lady, I was seated in the plane, next to a chatty woman from Jakarta, ready to set off on the red-eye flight to Melbourne.

9:45 PM

Because I couldn't sleep, my mind started to slide into the whirlwind of thoughts I had, at that point, become all too familiar with.

This lady won't stop talking. Be nice. She's invading personal space. People do that sometimes. What if they arrest me when I arrive? You watch too many crime shows. What if I get robbed? Airports have security. There's lightning outside, bad weather's not for flying. Relax. We're hitting turbulence, oh God, I'm going to die. You're not.

10:20 PM

I opened the screen's Flight Map because I've always had a thing for those maps, where they show you all these numbers and facts about something as fleeting as being lifted in an aircraft. I enjoy watching the numbers shift, witnessing everything they keep track of; altitude, temperature, the decreasing gap between "distance to destination" and "distance traveled".

My eyes landed on the line connecting the two dots; Bali and Melbourne. Close, and elsewhere. Home, and away. The line formed a slight arc as the plane would glide along the route to finally reach the city of Melbourne. Like flying to a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow. Except an empty apartment isn't exactly a pot of gold. And rainbows don't stretch for two thousand miles.

If my thoughts were runners, they'd be winning all the marathons. Every minute, I'd shift in my seat. Constantly anxious, helplessly restless. Granted, flying coach doesn't exactly give you a king size bed to sleep in, but I figured I was kept awake by something else.

With eyes still on the screen's numbers, I'd drift into a rough sleep if I'm lucky. But by each time I woke, I don't know what you call the feeling of already being sent yet another 500 miles further away from home. I don't know what you call the feeling of knowing the numbers of mileage would steadily increase while your eyes were still closed. Like the journey's a dream but your bed is not where you end up in. Like you're leaving a life behind without even realizing it. 

Picture from Google. Story below.

3:34 AM (EADST)

"When in doubt, look out the window." It's a phrase I like to remind myself of every now and then. This time, I was certainly glad I did, for what I saw out the window that night was life-changing, to say the least.

At 3:34 AM Melbourne time, we were already flying across the continent when I saw it. Not one, not two, but an entire sky of stars. Everywhere surrounding us – not to sound like a Coldplay song – that's what it all was. A sky full of stars. The fullest view of twinkling lights. 

Decorating a dark, lifeless sky, it was the most breathtaking and surreal thing to witness, so much so that I looked through another window just to check. It was like floating through a planetarium. Clouds floating, stars gleaming, and a galaxy so close it felt like you could touch it. 

I knew my phone couldn't take a decent photo of it even if I tried, but that photo I scavenged from Google was the closest I could find. I was having a hard time sleeping, but after viewing that, I was glad that I was never asleep. I didn't try to capture it. I leaned back to finally rest, knowing that the hour stood still on that cold red-eye flight, but the starry sky had calmed me for the rest of the night.

5:53 AM

By 5 AM, the stars had diminished into the blue. It's weird that we think they evaporate into thin air, when in fact they're still shining somewhere, hundreds of lightyears away from our view.

Exhausted from the lack of sleep, I noticed the lights slowly turning on. The captain's voice soon broke the silence, rocking everyone awake from their deep slumber (lucky folks). We were less than an hour away from landing. They'd served us a breakfast meal shortly afterwards; boring, tasteless airline food. Good morning, Australia.

5:53 AM and I see hints of sunrise in the distance. Shades of light blue, yellow and orange, complementing each other like a gradient of pastel colors. Soft tones melting into the horizon. I love it when skies look like brush strokes. I love it when nature proves itself to be much better than anything we can create. 

I'm glad sunrises are always beautiful when seen from anywhere in the world,

the way I'm glad for clouds and meadows, 

and how I never closed my window.

I'm glad for chance and new adventures and things that scare but help me change,

the way I'm glad I'm well and breathing, 

to find a purpose that I'm seeking.


---

This blogger would like to apologize for her lack of content lately because as you can probably tell, she's been through quite a lot lately. 

Anyway! I've been battling severe writer's block for days since I moved here. Not only am I tired 99% of the time, but it was hard to put into words an experience that pulled my heart in all directions. Let's just say I'm not at my peak writing moments these days. But I hope that's okay.
(So excuse the dryness, and the slightly abrupt end. It's 12:24 AM and my brain can only try so hard.)

Many times, I've sat with my laptop, trying to write about this story. The story of how I ventured on a two-thousand-mile trip on my own, to a city I've never lived in, starting a life I've never experienced. And yet, time and again, I would fail to find the words. 

But I finally wrote it down. Or at least I tried my best to. 

This was the (very lengthy) story of my journey, presented in bits and pieces of the trip, and my tiny thoughts and moments along the way. I hope you enjoyed the read, or that you can save it for a rainy day. (Or a starry night, whichever comes first.)

ICYMI: I've moved to Melbourne because I'm starting university next month. I came alone, and spent my first three days alone, before my mom caught up with me in her flight this morning. Her ticket had to be postponed due to some circumstances that arose. Nevertheless, I am safe, alive, and well, and I'm the happiest I've been.

This was just the "moving trip" part of the story, but I'll probably be writing more about life in this new city, and how I'm settling in (perhaps a sequel piece). There are plenty I'm learning and experiencing, and I'd be glad to share them with you. Lastly, thank you for every message of encouragement and love that I've received these past few days.

You make me feel blessed, wherever I am.

---

Here's to trying,











17 comments

  1. This is awesome :) love your blog , good luck out there buddy

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  2. I know the feeling of leaving everything you love behind and moving to a new place. Sure, on one hand it's exciting but at the same time, there's a hollow in your chest when you think about those you're leaving behind. I'm glad you made it to Melbourne safely Risa and I hope you have an amazing time throughout university. xx

    Coco Bella Blog

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    Replies
    1. How nice of you to say! Thank you for reading and for the lovely comment <3 cheers!

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  3. I know how you feel! When I moved to the UK with knowing nobody and with anxiety, I didn't interact with anyone for 2 weeks. It was horrible but it will pass. :)

    Mariya
    www.brunetteondemand.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Mariya, how sweet of you to leave this comment! I've been interacting with many different people back and forth these days but I do have a feeling I'll go through that phase at some point. <3 Thanks for sharing and have a nice week!

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  4. It is so hard to move away. I moved from Portugal to the UK almost 5 years ago and came with my partner. I am very close to my family (dad , mum and brother) and never felt such strong emotional pain on the day I left. It is still hard sometimes but I try and visit them as much as I can.
    Hope you enjoy your new adventure!

    www.thelisasworld.com

    ReplyDelete
  5. I love the post I've never seen someone do something like this congrats I love it!
    Please visit my Blog!

    http://www.alessabernal.com/
    Alessa Bernal

    ReplyDelete
  6. This is so beautifully written. I really could imagine myself being there with you. I wish you the best of luck settling in, and can't wait to hear more of your adventures <3

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  7. Beautiful! I really enjoyed reading your blog post. I hope to read more about your new beginning in Melbourne. Thanks for sharing. :)

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    Replies
    1. Aw thank you Jennifer <3 more posts about that'll be up soon!

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  8. I love the way you write. I hope you'll love Melbourne and enjoy your entire university experience abroad! I've always wished I could study abroad. Anyway, I went on a holiday to Melbourne last month and now it's a dream to someday move there :')

    All the best in everything you do!!
    Tiara X

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    Replies
    1. Thank you so much for reading and for leaving such a nice comment, Tiara. <3 It's a wonderful city, do come visit and let me know if you do! Hehe cheers x

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  9. Best wishes <3 The first excerpt really hit me with the same emotions with I moved to Asia~~

    Vivian | LIVE IN LOVE
    IG | @viviyunn_

    ~

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  10. I hope you love Melbourne!
    sputniksweetheartn.blogspot.com.au

    ReplyDelete

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