A flight back to go forward by Loren Cowley

A flight back to go forward 0Travelling back to your roots can teach you many things. Relationship roles are suddenly reversed but more importantly, you realise where you once stood and where you’re actually going.


It’s 3.29pm. My legs are stretched out across our 1980’s back porch sunbed. Soaking up the last sunny afternoon rays, my eyes are taking in the familiar rolling hills and farming landscape at my parents home. Koetsveldt Road, Blackwood Forest. A location that still leaves even the most seasonal postmen bemused "Crickey. Where’s that?".


It has been a mission to simply get some "me" time to concentrate on writing the Spring issue. This particular visit back to my old home was rich in lessons. That whole homesickness thing — totally overrated. I mean it exists but only to show us expats how living overseas — EMPOWERS YOU.


Interesting would be an understatement of the last 2 ½ months back here downunder. This trip defiantly allowed me to decipher my assorted relationships and truly strengthen my own with Jacques. Two years is a long time away from my gumtree family. Even with today’s modern technology, it doesn’t mean everyone is uber "tech savvy". On top of that reception can be a moody little monster, one minute you’re enjoying a perfectly good phone conversation before without any invitation it turns into a Star Trek battle with a running Stephen Hawking commentary — rather funny/handy if it happens to interrupt a sibling argument!


I’ve realised just how hard I’ve been on myself since deciding to move overseas. Beforehand, I felt I needed to justify why and for how long to those who really dragged on about it. Truth is, we don’t owe anyone a timeline — the trick is to be confident in believing that. Once upon a time, I felt solely responsible for maintaining regular contact and communication with my siblings and family. Long story cut short, that backfired spectacularly!! Why? because common knowledge is it actually takes two to tango in any relationship. Period.


See no matter how well technology might be developing to "enrich" our lives by providing immediate accessible contact 24/7. This does not necessarily mean that the contact is well balanced and the communication is healthy.


Alright, so bearing in mind that communications (for sometime) have broken down like a derailed TGV. Safe to say I was fairly anxious before flying out of Nimes. Who do we need to see? Who wants to see us? Jacques doesn’t cope well with intensity! (nor do I for that matter).


I could just visualise this tsunami approaching, swallowing us up. "Keep calm" I tell myself as we board the flight.


The arrival

A flight back to go forwardNo amount of digital hearts or "xoxo" can compare to being scooped up in your own mother’s arms. Instantly transported back to being her little girl, my head burrowing into her loving embrace. We shared stunning beach days in clear aqua waters, cosy cuppa teas in bed and laying on our backs gazing up at the majestic gumtrees set against a blue skyline. Australian gumtrees are the iconic flora symbol of this great land. I will miss rolling scrunching up their eucalyptus leaves in my hands. However, shortly after our arrival that enormous tsunami I was ever so apprehensive of... smashed right on into town. Parfait!


Very sadly my last beautiful grandma passed away. Gratefully I was able to share three very magical moments with her, thanking her with a loving goodbye. Then there was a marvelous family bust up, some estranged relationships and such epic drama it could give The Kardashians a damn good run for their money!


"Tell him he’s dreamin" (The Castle); a perfect phrase when calling a trip back to your roots a "vacation". It’s more like running a tight ship, navigating emotional seas with dramatic undercurrents, enjoying blue sunny skies with a ZEN moment before a friggin’ storm pops out of nowhere! You’re found clutching the mast muttering "Keep calm. Keep calm" before raising decibels fly out your mouth "Mayyyday!! Mayyyday!!" But this is my family. Only one I’ve got on this side of the globe. So (big breath) gumnuts ’n all there’s enough love for smooth sailing generally most of the time. The saying goes, every dark cloud has a silver lining.


The most impressive lesson learnt was from Jacques. Talk about gaining a clear perspective! Here I was thinking the guy was immune to everything, that it was only I who struggled in a different country. How wrong I was! Australia’s culture is rough, bold, crude and yet passionately endearing. It is of course an entirely different culture and language for him.


Floored, I watched him have the same difficulties I experience in France. Tongue-tied moments, shy withdrawal in high speed conversations and puzzled expressions regarding our weird idiomatic sayings like "Friggin’ amazingz or "She’ll be alright/it’ll be OK"(1)


I swooped in for the rescue with a melting heart at our equal grounds, thinking "Hey!? Roles reversed you’re just like me!"


A trip back to your roots is many things. A relationship will learn deeper humility and admiration when we understand that once the backyard changes, so do your roles. It might not always be peaches and cream but it’ll give one heck of an insightful lesson. See the humour in homesickness, realising that most things don’t change. Don’t force others to change — rather be your own example.


Be confident in the path you’re walking on — appreciate the one that walks it with you. Where we are right now, doing our thing overseas is exactly, perfectly where we are meant to be.


Discover. Learn. Grow.


(1) (2017 www.australianexplorer.com)