The drama with obtaining my Australian visa was worth it. More than I could ever have thought possible. What, for me, was meant to be a little break from the rush of teaching children and generally being an adult in Korea turned into one of the greatest moments of familial bonding that I’ve had in many years. We laughed. We cried (in happiness). We drank more consistently than I’ve drunk in a long time. And every moment was pure happiness and contentment. I could not have asked for more from a holiday.
After our less-than-ideal travel to the wonderful, bureaucratic country that is Australia, Kris and I greeted the James family, my relatives. We briefly discussed the inconveniences that had plagued us along the way, Australian border protection, and general pleasantries, before we went to bed. The next day meant the arrival of my mother, father, and brother from South Africa and belated Christmas on Boxing Day. I couldn’t wait, but I slept like a baby hopped up on sleeping pills out of relief at arriving safely.
The moment I had been waiting for for many months approached rapidly. We drove to the airport (back so soon after it all) and waited for my immediate family to arrive. While we waited, we entertained ourselves by people-watching the rest of the inhabitants o the airport at that point in time. One young girl in particular struck our attention. She was clearly an enamoured young lass, holding a sign that read something along the lines of ‘Paulo ❤ Anita; I cannot survive another day without you.’ The sincerity of her placard and her clearly eager face intrigued us. We wondered if the mythical Paulo would ever show up. We were so fixed on Paulo and Anita’s love story that we simply shrugged off my own family’s arrival, staying in the airport to wait and see if Paulo would arrive. He did. They kissed. It was cute, and then a little gross. We left. That moment of intense emotion felt by others has managed to stay clear in my head, even when the host of my own happy memories from the following days blurred together. Funny how that works, really.
The all-too-short time we spent in Australia was filled with more happy moments of bonding with both my immediate family and the James family. Here is a shot of us all, enjoying the aforementioned belated Christmas dinner.
We ate. We drank. We went on a trip down to the boonies in the Southern part of Western Australia. There, we drank wine, jumped off of jetties, and looked for kangaroos.
That poor rental bus.
For some context, I have met the James family in person only twice before. Both times have been in South Africa. Between their two visits, we have kept in contact and banter through Facebook. I would not have considered myself to be too close to them before the trip. After the trip, however, they rank amongst my closest friends, and we have all agreed to try and remain in much better contact going forward.
Oh, and we did finally meet kangaroos. Kristen was braver than I was. And more smooth.
While it was a refreshing to bond with the James family, some of my favourite moments were those brief periods of time I was able to spend with my mother, brother, and father by themselves. Whether it was talking to my brother about his plans for his current studies and plans for the future, talking with my mother about the rest of the South African family, or discussing my father’s work life, I treasured each second of personal time with these three people that I have known for my entire life (or, in the case of my brother, four years short of my entire life). I miss many people, but none more than them.
I could spend thousands upon thousands of words describing every moment and experience we shared. I could ramble about listening to awful Australian rap as New Year’s approached. I could rave about Australia, and how I now understand why so many South Africans choose to move there. Most of the time, I feel like words are at least equal to pictures in their ability to capture the experiences of my life. For my trip to Australia, I am not nearly a good enough writer to depict how blissful, joyous, raucous, and simply fun it was to be with those I call family. For now, I leave you with one picture, taken at a craft beer house, and a new horcrux of happiness for me. This is what happiness looks like. This is how I spent my entire break feeling. These are the some of the indescribable people I spent it with. I hope that all of you lovely readers are lucky enough to experience joy as pure as this.