Ask me the stories

In Australia, Brie and I met a girl in a hostel, and she told us something. She said that one of the hardest things about going back home after a long time abroad is that you’ve changed, but that nobody notices it.

She’s right. Yes, I look like me, I sound like me, I am me, minus an appendix. But in 11 months I have lived SO much, had so many adventures, and grown up more than ever. I have written dozens and dozens of chapters of my story, but it’s one I can’t read to everyone. Sure, you can tell people the funny bits, the memorable bits. How can I share the feelings that I felt, the things a camera couldn’t capture, the smells you can’t even describe. Maybe you can only try to.

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When we were on the farm in Oz, Brie and I watched a roo get run over. I think it was the night before my birthday and we went out in the ute with Greg to find a missing cow. The heat of the day had gone, a thousand shades of orange camouflaged the roo, but on the other side of the waterhole, he stopped drinking and stood up, so that the three of us noticed him. He was taller than the tallest person I know, strong and powerful. For a few seconds, he stared at us, Brie and I breathed in awe and the engine ran in the background. Then he turned, and in a couple of gargantuan hops had reached the edge of the paddock.

It was probably the only time in my life I could say that time really seemed to stop. It was like being in a trance. Before I could even blink, this roo had jumped the fence and was about to collide with an approaching car. We knew it would happen, but it happened so quickly, and we all watched helplessly. He hit the top of the bonnet, then bounced right off to the side of the road. The car came to a halt and we started driving to the perimeter, then we got out and climbed a barbed wire fence. Everything had felt slowed, but it gradually sped up to reality and a young mum got out of her car to have a look at the damage. She wouldn’t be able to drive her car again. There was a toddler in the back and I almost started crying, although the little girl was absolutely oblivious to what had just happened.

Down the road, said roo was thrashing around, still alive. His arm and both legs had been broken and Greg had to end it for him. No one had a gun, so he had to try using a log, which wasn’t enough either. In the end, someone else who stopped had a knife. I think most of us live our lives so far away from nature and in such sanitised conditions, we are so distanced from things like this, which happen often in the country. There are actually 2 kangaroos for every 1 Australian and based on the long distance drives I did, you’ll see more of them as roadkill than all the roadkill on British roads out together.

Anyway the whole experience of watching this, was so shocking and at the same time, such a thrill. My heart raced, how can something be so disturbing yet also exciting and mesmerising?

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No email, photo, scrapbook or voice message can record the time I’ve lived abroad. I’m going to come home soon, catch up with my friends and family, do all the things I’ve missed doing. It’s going to be hard, slotting back in where I left off, but no challenge is too big now, no mountain too high. Don’t ask me what the best bit was, ask me the most special place, the best meal I ate, what it’s like to miss the kids, what it felt like to be in hospital, to fly across the Outback on your birthday. To speak a foreign language so much, you speak German when you’re asked to speak English. I feel rich to have had these experiences, and all I want to do is share them.

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