The Abolition of Apprehension
Sunday November 29th. The train was pulling in to Sydney’s International Terminal as the ethereal electric guitar of Angus and Julia Stone's 'Big Jet Plane' began playing through my headphones. The air-conditioning in the carriage was unrelenting and seemingly set to ‘icy’, with only intermittent breaths of warmth seeping through the top level of the carriage at each stop.
England is cold at Christmas. It’s time I got used to this. With twenty-seven days to go until I was set to migrate to a country I knew very little about, the anxiety was fast setting in.
My chest tightened, a wave of sadness overcame my very being and a shortness of breath ensued. My eyes became unfocused; all that was tangibly ahead appeared to be a blur, my vision only welcoming the uncertain depths of what my mind chose to project: a vignette perspective of my immediate future - the possibilities of ‘what could be’ in the UK in the coming months.
I thought of all I was leaving behind: my beloved family, my closest friends (some of whom I’d know for decades). I thought of my beautiful German Shepherd and the cataracts in his left eye. I felt like whimpering, crying to myself as I rocked gently with the sway of the moving carriage as it pulled into Domestic Terminal. I considered the reality that I may not be there to see him go, and felt guilty - even selfish for leaving him behind, with no way of communicating to him from the other side of the world just how much I loved him.
I thought about the wonderful students I'd developed a strong and supportive bond with, and considered how far they'd come in such a short period of time; their improved behaviour and newly found sense of confidence in the classroom formed the foundation of my memories at the school. In that moment of introspection, I felt so proud to have played a part in honing their sense of self, but also disappointed and again, guilty that I would not be there to see them graduate. I felt as though I were letting them down.
As the train departed Mascot’s platform, the dark tunnel the carriage had now entered had begun to resemble the amalgamation of conflicting thoughts and feelings I'd had over the last few months leading to my impending migration.
I saw more commuters enter the carriage at Green Hills Station - the majority carrying or dragging suitcases with them in excess. I fantasied about their stories, particularly the families with small children in tow. Are they tourists here in Sydney? Are they new migrants to our sunburnt land? Are they travelling for work, like me? Is my homeland more prosperous than theirs? Am I arrogant to complain about how ‘bored’ I am in Sydney when its beauty and conveniences are always at the tip of my fingers?
As the train climbed the slow decent of the underground tunnel out into the open air, the exposure of the convoluted railway lines reminded passengers bound for Central Station that they were due to alight. The morning sun was strangely reassuring as it shone throughout the carriage, enveloping me in a comforting wave of warmth. An immediate sense of reassurance that everything would be ok dawned upon me as the sunlight soaked my summer-tanned skin and the railway tracks untangled into singular lines, directing decisive routes for the drivers.
I disembarked the carriage with a sea of tourists and chic locals who were undoubtedly headed for the nearest coffee cart before their morning stroll to work. Upon swiping my trusty Opal card at the barrier, I blended amongst the mixed crowd walking towards the Eddy Street exit before noticing my mother and sister standing at the station's exit. With smiles on their faces, they waved eagerly before turning to each other with a look of pleasant anticipation, then headed my way. We had planned for a ‘Girls’ Day Out’ months ago but our busy schedules had prevented such a time until now.
As we moved toward each other, I foresaw the feeling of elation we’d experience when we were once again reunited upon my return from the U.K. The overwhelming excitement would undoubtedly lead to a steep low the next day as I readjusted back to life in Australia. I would certainly long for the company of my new friends in England, the cooler weather, and the English comforts I’d become accustomed to over time; however, I would feel at ease because my family would be within arms reach once again.
The loving presence of my mother and sister at Sydney’s Central Station that morning was a reminder that I’d always have the strong support of my family and closest friends to form the resilience of my foundation. Regardless of where I travelled to, with whom or for how long, I would never truly be alone. In that moment of realisation under the sunny archway at Central Station, I knew this for certain.
That morning journey on the Airport Line stabilised the anxious thoughts preluding my imminent international departure. The emergence from the underground tunnel reminded me that life is not meant to be lived in the dark – in fear of the unknown or spent in waiting. Life is to be embraced and every opportunity for adventure grasped tightly with both hands. Life is a labyrinth and it is how we navigate it that determines our destination and our success.
Sunday 29th November marked a new day - a new way of thinking and a new chapter in my life, just as December 27th would mark the beginning of a promising and exciting new life for me.
By Belinda Pearce
29th November 2015.