Asterisk

It has been months since I have added anything to this little blog of mine. The reasons for this are two fold. Firstly, I have been exceedingly busy with university and internships as life is beginning to finally take some sort of shape and secondly; I have spent the last six months living in Sweden, where of course, people have no time to write at all.

I told myself I would not write a personal, reflective article on my time in Sweden. I generally find them to be rather bland, without insight, and slightly narcissistic (who else really cares about how I felt?). However, it seems, I have caved to my impulses. Maybe it is because in the last two weeks I have struggled, somewhat, to readjust back into my hometown. Maybe it is because this is not the first time I have had to do this, and I now know exactly how difficult it is to return to a normal life. Maybe, and most probably, it is because this time I have left behind things that are just as valuable to me than the things I am coming home to.

I am reminded of something that a close friend said to me whilst we sat in a busy café in Uppsala one afternoon. It was prime-time for Fika and we had just finished our second refill of coffee whilst the remains of our kanelbullar sat idle on a plate between us. Whilst this was months before I was set to return back to Sydney, the conversation had turned to the rather fleeting nature of our friendship. I would go home to complete my studies, she would stay to continue her work. I mentioned how after my last return to normalcy I had somewhat acted up – changed my career path and abandoned some of my social circles, amongst many things. She said something that I think is most true of this situation.

“It is that when you are away for so long and you return home, you see that everything is the same, but you, inside, are completely different”

These were words that the writer inside me began to instantly note down. I remember recognising the feeling and being so glad that someone had finally put them into words, though at the same time dreading the prospect of experiencing that anguish again.

And here I am, at past 1am in the morning, dreading the thought of work in the morning.

Don’t get me wrong, though, it is not because of a distain for my life in Sydney that I miss my Swedish life. It is more that I miss the sense of adventure that every day brought me, even though I didn’t realise it at the time. I wish now that I spent more time just walking through the centre of Uppsala and taking in just how different and incredible my life was at that moment. That as I walked through the snow that covered the city centre there were people in Sydney that had never even seen snow in their lives.

My words, I am sure, will resonate in every one of you that has travelled before. It is different, though, I believe, when you making a home in foreign place, rather than just a temporary adventure. That is what it was for me – Uppsala was home, as was Bristol before it. More so, I dare say, than Sydney will ever be. That’s because here my life is so much more regimented. I have work, for the purpose of earning; university, for the purpose of my career; and friends and family, which in some way guide my thoughts and feelings.  In Uppsala, however, so much of everything I did was on impulse. I was more me than I could ever be in Sydney.

You can understand the difficulty, then, of returning back to everything you once knew. I returned to same streets, the same house, the same people – though inside I am not the same person. I am a better version of myself, a more complete version, one that knows exactly what I want from life, without the impasses of routine and responsibility. Call it an enlightening experience, if you will, but I think it is more simple than that. I feel I was just getting used to being me, and now I am back to being me with an asterisk.

This entry may have turned out more personal than I would have liked, but alas, here it stands. I cannot help but think of the old scientific process of finding out what the atom was made out of. My high school teacher told us “to find out what was in the atom, we essentially shot stuff at it to break it apart to find out what was inside”. That, I guess, is what happened to all of us that ran away for the past few months. We shot at our lives with Fika and snow, only to find we were just ourselves on the inside.

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The Sloth and the Snake.

This is a story about a sloth.

The sloth was once on his own, minding his own business. He did his own sloth things, he went to school, he watched TV. He had his routine and never felt any desire to change anything.

One day, along came a snake.

The snake and the sloth soon became very close friends. The snake taught the sloth about the world outside. She taught him about the hustle of the city, about the fantastic food in the world. She taught him about tattoos and colours and how all the other animals had fun.

The sloth soon realised he had wasted far too much time in his tree and that he should have explored the world sooner. He was very grateful to the snake.

Soon, the sloth and the snake fell in love.

The two spent a lot of time together. They would go to shows, and spend time lying in parks and on the beach. But soon, the sloth realised that the snake was very different to the sloth. The snake would often go off to do snake things that the sloth didn’t like. The snake would tell all the other animals about all the private things the two would do together. The sloth asked the snake to stop, but the snake got mad and said that that’s how she was and that he would just have to deal with it.

Soon the sloth wasn’t having fun with the snake.

One day, the sloth told the snake that they shouldn’t see each other any more. The snake was very sad. The sloth was very sad too, for the sloth didn’t hate the snake, oh no. The sloth realised that soon he would hurt the snake too much and he didn’t want that to happen.

The snake left.

The years went on, and the sloth went on with life. He returned to his private ways, going to school and watching TV. He stayed in his tree for hours of the day.

The sloth began to realise that he missed the world. He wanted to go out and explore again, but he couldn’t all on his own. He needed to find someone like the snake to help him.

So the sloth searched and searched, but he could not find anyone like the snake again.

Dear Mum, I’m going to be an astronaut.

Dear Blog,
I haven’t written in you for a very long time, I’m sorry, I’ve been out exploring the world.
Actually no, I’ve been exploring the University of New South Wales.
Well really basically the Law building, Stellini Pasta Bar and a few trips to the Mathews building. I don’t know where anything else is.
Seriously, some guy asked me for directions last week, I had no idea what he was talking about. He may as well have asked for directions to the moon, I probably would have a better idea.
But regardless of my innate sense of misdirection, I have rather enjoyed the last two months of school. I have made a steady stream of friends who I will refer to as ‘those law school buddies of mine’ for the remainder of my life, I’ve found a place where I can pick up a decent cup of coffee and I seem to know what’s going on in class (except for criminal law, no idea what the hell goes on in there).
UNSW has proven interesting. The narrow alleyways between buildings remind me somewhat of London and the flash currents of air through the wind tunnel of a main walkway keep the campus cool regardless the temperature. Whilst I miss the peace of the main quadrangle of Sydney Uni and ‘my spot’ at JDV in Lidcombe, I feel like there is a place for my here in Kensington.
Whilst this sense of tranquility may be purely a result of my mid semester assessments being finished, or the fact I don’t have any set reading for the next couple of weeks, knowing that I’m not pulling out my hair is a good sign.

Or maybe this is just what Stockholm syndrome feels like?

The amount of sugar I put into my coffee is dependant on my mood at the time and how many people are watching me add sugar.

Today, for the first time in what seems like decades, I went to a coffee shop and used my real name. Now, I never use my real name, and there are many reasons for this. The main one is because nobody ever knows how to spell it. I’m not even talking about my full name – Siddharth – I’m talking my one-syllable, shortened version of my name. Sidd is not that hard to say or spell. Though yes, I do complicate it slightly by using two ‘Ds’ instead of one, it still cannot be that much of a deal.
Now, back to the coffee shop instance – usually when I say my real name, I get my coffee cups back with a number of different spellings. Here a few of my favourites:
“Zid”
“Side”
“Saed”
“Mark” (I’m not even kidding)
Because of this, in recent years I have resorted to using a numerous number of fake names. This, I thought, would solve the problem easily (as lying always does). Then, I realized, that even when using generic names such as John, Tom or Fernando (It’s a conversation starter) there would still be corrections needed. My favourite occasion was when I took on the character of “Jasper” and the name “Jasmine” was called out against my order. My greatest worry in that case was that the girl taking the order looked at me and didn’t even flinch in taking that name.
So in knowing that it is not the complexity of the name itself that causes confusion, I must conclude that maybe it is the environment of the shop itself that restricts the barista from hearing my name correctly. The loud chatter of customers, the grind of the coffee machine, and the whistle of that milk-frother thingo – all factors contributing to the baristas lack of hearing. Worrying, though, considering that they are taking my coffee order in the same environment.
Now, I’m a fan of coffee shops. They bring in everyone from addicts needing their daily fix to couples on tentative first dates. But it’s amazing how well baristas get to know their customers, and I don’t mean just through general conversation. I feel as though you can tell a lot about a person from their coffee order – espresso shots for the no-nonsense business type, and caramel latte’s for the ones just going for the coffee-drinker image*. Of course, the longer the length of the order, the more serious the coffee connoisseur (or just the more annoying).
The reason I started writing all this in the first place was that today, when I used my real name to order my coffee, the barista actually spelt my name correctly. No, I did not spell it out for her, and no I had never been to her before. She just naturally spelt ‘Sidd’ with an ‘I’ and two ‘Ds’.
Who the hell does that? Seriously?
*(sorry NLH – RB, you’ll like that one)

Eliza Street.

So I’m going on a little trip at the end of next month. It’s pretty much the one thing I’ve wanted to do for years and years, as long as I can remember. Whilst I know, people go on exchange all the time, I never thought that I would be the type to go. I’ve never thought of myself as outgoing or adventurous, nor did I ever think that I’d risk delaying my university degree for it. I’ve always been the type to make plans and never go through with them. Sometimes because I’m lazy, other times because the plans are just too far out reach.

Then again, I’ve always thought of myself as very ‘on my own’. I swapped schools so frequently as a child I’d never had any properly grounded friends, not until high school at least. I never really thought I needed the assistance of others to get through anything, I’d always be more than capable of getting through any situation on my own. That said, I’ve never been one without friends. My innate desire for constant validation has ensured this. Close friends on the other hand, well I have a select few. 

I originally bought a one way ticket for my little trip. Maybe it’s because I moved so much as a kid and that now I’ve lived in Sydney for so many years, I’m looking for that change that I’ve been waiting for. Or maybe it’s because I lack the ability to hold a conversation with someone without breaking the tension with an awkward joke. I’ll be away for five months, surely that’s enough time to think of some new material?

I bought my return a month later, mainly because my family found out and they weren’t pleased.  Also, there was a chance I might miss Sydney – or rather – a few people here (and near by). But the thrill, oh it was enticing. To think maybe I’d go there and never come back. To be able to start anew with no baggage. Hey that’s not outgoing at all right?

Goodness, I’ve changed. I’ve started needing people. I’ve never needed people before. There are people I miss when I don’t see them, and people that make me smile when I do.   It’s reactionary, not just me being polite. What if I were to move across the world now? I’d actually miss the people I’ve left behind. Ugh, it’s just a liability stopping me from so much.

But here I am, just before this little trip of mine that has been three years in the making, having momentary lapses in excitement.