This originally appeared on my Facebook feed:
Tomorrow at this time I will be crossing the Pacific en route to Los Angeles.
I’ve done the laundry and made my bed – this is as it will be when I come home in 15 weeks. I’ll sleep in it tonight and then not again until either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump has been elected President.
In either case I’m confident I will be glad, on that night, to fall asleep in this room, in this city, under the southern stars. I will be glad to be home. But I will be changed.
When I left for my midlife gap year one of my fears was that it wouldn’t change me. I feared that it would amount to a long holiday and nothing much more. I know it has changed me but I’m still not really sure how.
This, this journey, this campaign – I think will affect me profoundly.
I visited America for about two months last year and it wasn’t as difficult as I’d feared but I was just passing through. I was visiting friends; I was looking; I was simply being there. Now I am going to engage with the place. Election campaigns – when you are in them are intense, consuming, bonding. I’m going to have to open my heart to America again to do this, to do this well. And there’s no point in going if I’m not going to do it well.
My midlife gap year did give me a stronger connection to Australia. When I longed for home, as inevitably happens when you travel for a year, there was no ambiguity about what I meant. Home when I ached for it, imagined it, daydreamed about it was always Australia. It was Sydney. And my family of friends here.
So I think, having made that journey, and come home, been home for a while – I feel grounded and connected, sure about my place here. Sure that this is my place. Certainty here gives me strength to engage anew with the United States.
I was just thinking of the analogy I sometimes use when I think of America and that is of an ex. America as my ex-boyfriend, ex-husband, I’m not sure which, but it’s my ex. My first big ex.
My second big ex – my once-husband-of-11-years – I haven’t spoken with him in 2 ½ years and, now that I’m a writing this, I realise we split up three years ago yesterday. Wow.
It seems like a lifetime ago. Who was I then?
This much I’m sure of I was not as confident then as I am now. I was not as comfortable in my own skin as I am now. I was more frightened, more worried. I was less honest – not in a deceitful way but with myself. I was less willing to see truths that maybe I didn’t like. I was less likely to admit my need for friendship and support. I was less willing to tell the people I loved that I loved them.
I could not then have made the journey I am now set to make.
I don’t know what’s going to happen. I don’t know where I’ll end up working or what I’ll be doing or in whose lives I’m going to become involved. Even more than when I left for my gap year I feel like I’m leaping into fate. I’m going to go. I am going to help. I am going to write about it.
And then I’ll come home. To this room. To the bed I will have made 15 weeks earlier. And some yet newer version of me will fall asleep beneath the southern stars – hopefully with some satisfaction and contentment.
And then I’ll have find a job.