She stood ankle deep in pure white sand, alone on a perfect beach. Between her toes the warm granules of sand gently exfoliated her skin. The summer sun kissed her forehead while the afternoon sea breeze tickled her cheeks. Between salted lips she breathed deep breaths, her eyes watering as she gazed out at the Indian Ocean before her.
For months her stomach had churned, her intestines felt like they were knotted and she constantly felt anxious. She knew what the diagnosis was; she was suffocating from her surroundings and needed to escape. Staring at what seemed like an endless, gleaming blue, she imagined what it would be like on the other side of the world, anywhere else but where she was.
She’d grown up in one of the most isolated cities in the world and had never travelled. She loved her friends and family but felt like a spectator on the side, watching them live out their lives while her very own was stagnate. Every day felt banal; she wasn’t meeting anyone new and she wasn’t learning anything about the world.
She had been born and raised in that city, but it never truly felt like home. She didn’t like who she was in it; she didn’t really know who she was in it. What she did know was it was a place where she had been heartbroken too many times and a place where she had made foolish mistakes. Something needed to change. She needed to get out. Leaving was a great opportunity to heal, to find herself, and in a way, to start fresh.
In her final year of university she began to plan. She had to see the world before starting her career otherwise she would end up tied down, miserable, and most likely burning a few employment bridges. She booked a round the world ticket with stops in Tokyo, New York and London. She organised a visa for the UK and would cancel the return flight once there.
Originally, she had wanted to live in Portugal as she had been taking Portuguese language lessons every Saturday for a year and thought it would be a great opportunity to become fluent, but as it would be her first time both living and travelling overseas, she instead decided on residing in an English speaking country which would be an easier transition for her. The UK was only a hop, skip and a jump to the rest of Europe anyway.
She scrimped and saved, and bit by bit the date of her departure edged nearer. Anxiety slowly began to fade and in its place anticipation grew. The closer she got to leaving, the surer she became in her decision to leave. Selling her belongings and fitting her life into a backpack was a truly liberating experience.
When she said goodbye to her parents at the airport, she didn’t cry. She could tell by their expressions that they had been waiting for her to, and they seemed surprised by her lack of emotion at such a moment. Of course she was going to miss them, but she was more than ready to leave her current world behind. She walked through the gates, not once looking back.
In the departure lounge she stood at the floor to ceiling windows overlooking the main runway, both hands delicately pressed on the glass in front of her chest. Below, a Boeing 747 was being prepared. It was nearly midnight and she realised she wouldn’t see another Australian sunset for a long time.
The P.A rang out and her flight number was called for boarding. This was it she thought, it was actually happening. She smiled at the thought and the journey ahead, and in an instant, everything she had been feeling for a long time finally vanished.