24/08/13

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As I felt the cold outside air hit my face, I sleepily slid my eye mask off and sat up straight. "Are we here?" I asked the person next to me. They nodded.
As the passengers surrounding me began to stand up and walk out, I quickly gathered my things and crammed them into my old, tattered duffle bag, which I'd had since forever.
Before standing up, I pulled out my phone and checked my appearance after the 21 hour flight from London to Sydney. 'Nothing special' I thought, 'but good enough'.

As I stood up I bumped my head on the tiny light above my seat. "Great" I sighed under my breath, "add that to the list of signs telling me I shouldn't be here".
In fairness, that had been the first sign, but I always had a habit of exaggerating things to sound like the people from movies. In fact, my entire purpose of being in the city was to snap out of that 'hey let's try to be a movie character as much as humanely possible' phase; I may have only been sixteen, but my future felt right around the corner.

After I had collected my suitcases from one of those circular-conveyer-belt-things, I rounded a corner of the airport which led me to the arrivals section. Around me I noticed all of the other passengers from my flight craning their necks eagerly to find their families and friends, aside from the few who were departing the airport alone. But I didn't need to search for the people I was looking for; their distinctiveness could be seen a mile off.

And that was when I spotted them- the last group of people in the long row of 'loved ones' and taxi drivers. There stood my four cousins along with my Aunt and Uncle, all painted with that signature Meller smile and twinkle in their eye. "Aria!" My cousin Alyssa shouted. Instantly I ran up to her and became swamped in hugs from my family, and once again, within less than five seconds they had made me feel as though I belonged there with them. Questions darted at me from each of them all of a sudden. "How was your flight?". "Is London nice this time of year?". "How's your father?". "How's your sister?". "Are you looking forward to spending the next few months with us?". But my social skills were never my strongest suit, which caused me to stammer out a "uhh..ah..umm......" in all the hubbub. Most people would find that childish and strange, but my family just laughed with me- another thing I loved about them.

After the hugging and celebration of my arrival had calmed, I caught my breath. "It's so great to see you guys!" I exclaimed, "I've missed this place so much!".
"It's great to have you, believe me. Lari couldn't wait to have someone her own age to hang around" my aunt smiled. Lari pulled her classic teenage 'stop it mum, that's embarrassing' face that I was oh so accustomed to.
"It's true though" she shrugged, "I haven't seen you since-".
"That time you all took me surfing when I was 10" I remembered, "man I loved that summer". My cousin Jared exhaled in a laugh. "Well now that it's much more than a summer, I'll make you a pro" he joked.
"Hey don't you still have that injury? Or that other injury?" I laughed, and the others joined me.
"Hey, injuries are how you become great at something!" He protested, "you would know that, Aria". I smiled shyly at the ground.
"Speaking of which" my uncle piped up, "how's the ballet going?" He asked me. Those words made me sadder than I thought they would; I really hated what I had to tell them. "Uhh" I said awkwardly, "ballet has.. Kind of been put on hold.. Because of my back injury.." I told them, trying to shrug it off as if it was no big deal.
"Oh, that's awful!" My aunt sympathised. I shrugged, "it's fine, really, I'm fine". Instantly that awkward pause I was famed for creating dawned upon us once again. Thankfully however, it was broken by my cousin, Marcus. "Anyway" he sighed, bending down to pick up one of my suitcases, "we'd better get a move on, before the motorway clogs up". With soundly nods of agreement, my family helped me to gather up my bags and take them out to Jared's truck waiting for us in the airport car park.

The drive was a long one- 2 hours to be exact (with the expected amount of traffic at 8pm)- but that just gave me time to think.
Ok so I had dreamt about it, shot-in-the-dark thrown the idea of it at my mother, thought about it, obsessed over it, planned it, prepared for it, flown thousands of miles for it, and now I was in it. It was all so surreal. Yes, I'd been to Sydney before, many times, but never in this capacity. In the past I had always arrived knowing that I'd be leaving in a couple of weeks or so. In the past I had existed in that city as a visitor, and participated in the classic amount of tourist day trips and activities. I had kept my clothes in a suitcase- practical, but also a constant reminder that I was a guest, not a resident.

However this time, it was different. I was arriving in Sydney knowing full well that I would not set foot in the departures lounge of that airport for a few months, at the very least. That feeling was electric, and it gave me the kind of buzz that no amount of sickly cupcakes could ever provide. Something new was starting for me, and it was beginning to feel more real than ever before. Maybe my reaction to a simple change in location was overdramatic and somewhat childish, but the thoughts in my head could never cease to exist simply because I asked them to, so I stopped asking.

As I sat there in the window seat of Jared's truck, I peered out at the city I was becoming a part of. I thought about how it was going to feel arriving at my aunt and uncle's house and unpacking my clothes- into drawers and wardrobes this time. I thought of how I was going to hang up and arrange posters and photographs of everyone I loved, all over my walls. I could even picture the way I would lay out my desk, with photographs along the back wall, pens on the right, paper on the left. Visions of myself doodling at that desk crossed my mind, and an exhale of silent laughter exited my nose. I had brought a string of butterfly fairy lights too, and I could see it in my head, stringing them up around the room, turning off the lights and seeing their faint, beautiful glow drifting me off to sleep.....

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