Two years had passed since seeing my friends and family back in Oz… two years since I’d had the searing Aussie sun on my back, since experiencing the feeling of crispy summer-sun-dried grass on the soles of my feet… It’s not an eternity. It’s not impossible to endure. Not when I chose to live so far away.
But it had been a hard two years of lockdowns and back pain and then the joyful but also emotional news of pregnancy. And I yearned with every part of me to get home.
It wasn’t like previous trips. I knew it wouldn’t be. Due to back pain, my mobility was impaired, and madly driving about to visit every single one of my friends wasn’t feasible. Covid was another consideration – being pregnant made me more cautious than I would otherwise have been, another reason I had to limit who I saw. In the end it was only my family and my nearest and dearest that made the cut. And I think everyone else can understand that.
Most people, including my parents, didn’t even know I was coming before I arrived. I’d barely had time to process it myself, booking two days out, and in the end it was easier and less stressful to wait.
As a result I didn’t do much of note. But I can tell you that it was exactly what I needed. I relaxed. I read. I walked along the beach with my parents, and we picked up takeaway coffee and sipped it while sampling sweet pastries and staring out to sea. I ate all the things I’ve been craving – fish’n’chips and dim sims and Asian food and sausages and Cheezels and pasties and caramel milkshakes and oh how the list goes on. I hugged my friends tight and cried tears of joy. I smelt the sweet salty air and I got some laps in at various swimming pools, as well as enjoying some lovely dips in the ocean.
The flight there was a little stressful. I didn’t know how my back would go, and I didn’t know if I was setting myself up for a month of extreme pain. The first few days were trying – my back wasn’t great, and there was jet lag and emotion settling on top of that. But after my three days of self-imposed quarantine at a friend’s house, my folks picked me up and with it everything else did too.
I could feel myself returning. The sadness lifted. The back pain eased, escalated, moved around, and finally settled into something that was only on the edge of pain. I was able to walk longer distances and I relished the experience of lying in bed in the morning when I woke up, almost pain free.
My doctors tell me that it’s the baby causing my body to change and easing the sciatica. I don’t dispute it, but I can’t help thinking that the sun, warmth, relaxation and just an improved mood can’t have hurt either.
I returned to Austria… happy. And that’s not a small thing, because I’ve been not quite happy for a pretty long time. I finally feel like myself again, and importantly, I feel ready to tackle this next challenge of becoming a parent. I returned home with a sunny glow, a considerably better back, tons of advice, and a crap load of baggage of mostly baby-related gifts and hand me downs.
And I’m glad to be back. But I’m gladder that I took the chance to go. I’m glad I was brave. And I’m lucky it worked out.
I don’t know when I’ll go again. But that’s ok. Because the days are getting longer, the sun is shining and I’m emotionally ready to handle everything that’s coming at me.