Growing up, I knew of you, and imagined you as this untamed place, with trees and fierce wildlife. You were the home of the Tassie devil.
As I began the process to apply to meet you for the first time, I started to do a little more research. You were the state at the bottom of Australia, your population was about the size of Newfoundland. You were half the size of my island, and you sounded like you had much nicer weather.
Months went by, and I became engulfed with my preparation. I couldn’t wait to meet you. Australia was the home of the flat white, my favourite Starbucks drink, so flat whites on the waterfront had to be a thing. You also seemed to have claims to seafood fame, so that would be a must. Your Instagram profile was nothing but vast, remote mountains, balanced with sunrises and starscapes. Given my love for the outdoors, I imagined is getting along well.
Finally, it was time for me to board a really big plane, and fly over 18 000 km to you.
And what can I say? It was love at first sight. As I came in over the ocean, I saw your gorgeous mountains, rolling hills and baby blue water. I experienced the first turn around over the ocean and nearly land on the beach thrill offered by the Hobart airport.
For our first weekend date, I got to experience your Salamanca Market, and be swept up in your fresh produce and friendly vendors. I ventured to your Museum and Old and New Art, and laughed as I questioned where in the name of goodness I was. It turns out your flat whites were even more incredible than imagined, and have turned me into a mild coffee snob. That weekend set the theme for our time together-it opened my eyes to immersing myself into this new place.
My dearest Tassie, we did the honeymoon phase together, but I also stood by you as we passed out of that phase and I had to endure your rainy days, and kill your spiders and scorpions. Somehow, despite that, you are just as ruggedly beautiful in my eyes.
Your people are one of a kind. I have never been someone to make friends easily, but somehow, your folks welcomed me with open arms. I was introduced to your foods (your many glorious foods), learned your lingo and your customs. I may never be able to say capsicum as well as them, but I’m glad they can laugh along with me when I try. I’ll defend them and advocate for you to the end my love to any mainlander who dare say unpleasant things about you.
I had many people tell me that this trip would “Change everything”. I called foolishness on them all. I had travelled overseas before, I was half worldly. I was going for a work term, it was all organized. It was only for six weeks, plus a vacation. “Change everything trips” happened to teenagers on gap years who went around backpacking. That was for hipsters.
Well, I’m writing this to you from the plane, on the way to Sydney. And I’m telling you now, I’m eating my words. I think it happened so slowly, that I didn’t really notice it. But as I packed to leave my new love, it became clear to me, that I felt like I didn’t quite recognize myself in the mirror. This isn’t me I thought. But somehow, it is. It all is. I see it now, and I can own it. I can go somewhere new, and make friends, and survive. I can live out of a suitcase for two months, meaning I really need to slim out my worldly possessions when I get home. I don’t need a meal plan for a week in advance, and a little chaos and spontaneity won’t actually kill me. I’ve rediscovered how young 22 actually is. Yeah, I’m starting residency in June, but it’s only a year. I’m grateful to not have any further commitment beyond that right now. It’s actually a wonderful feeling to be able to savour my independence and lack of true responsibility or commitment. I see this me, and I accept it. I own it.
I know this all pretty much sounds like a Pinterest post on the benefits of travelling. I’m not sure how relatable it is, and I know this is much more sentimental and reflective than my usual posts. But Tasmania, this is what you have inspired. I hope you’re as proud of it as I am.