Monday, May 13, 2013

Stone Cold Steve

I'm about to jump on a plane to Texas. It's nearly two years since I was last there, and this time it's going to be different.

About a month ago I was offered the opportunity to go to Austin for a week. It's for work, and it's only a few days on the ground, but how could I say no? I love the city, love the country and well, if someone wants to pay for it, then who am I to refuse the offer?

See, I think about America everyday. Living there was an absolute privilege, but it had to come to an end. Life had to move on, and as the calendars pages flipped over, the place I grew increasingly fond of moved on as well.
Snow. In Australia. In November.

In the time since Australia has been good to me. I've had friends from around the world come visit, graduated from uni, picked up work for a magazine, celebrated the return an Illawarra team to the NSW Cup, watched Bruce Springsteen live, twice, and moved to Newtown, Sydney. The job has sent me to some new parts of Australia, even to China, while life in the city has oft had its own adventures. But still, I'm reminded constantly of America, of living in Scotland, of walking around Tokyo at night and I get itchy feet again.

About one week after I got home two years ago I booked a course to learn to ride a motorcycle. Travelling from Cape Cod to San Diego overland had its own challenges and rewards, but it was still an insulated experience jumping on a bus or train and being a passive entity while the ground moved underneath. Riding the bike reintroduced the adventure, the work and the reward.

China: Weird weekend.

Once university finished I rode to Mt Kosciuszko, through the Snowy Mountains and up the South Coast of New South Wales while my speed was curtailed by the law at a meagre 80km/h.

One year later I rode from Sydney to Tasmania and around the island for 10 days before turning back home. It was incredible, vastly usurping unemployment spread out mostly at North Beach as the best way to spend the warmer months. And still, America is never far from my attention.
Tassie. Shit yeah.

Now I'm about to get another hit. I'm still stumped that someone else is footing the bill, but again, as if I was ever going to say no.

It's time for a solid 15 hours on a tin can. If I'm lucky at the end of it I'll get a few moments to grab a PBR, eat all the burritos in Texas and watch the Bulls bash the Heat. Ideally though, I'd be about eight weeks late for my flight home and see the places I missed last time. I guess there's still some unfinished business.

Giddy up.
Sam Hawley & Sweaty Mke.

Arrows - All Passwords are Brisbane
These guys are the best band in Australia. Get on it.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

A two year raincheck

Ahem, is this thing on?

I don't know why I never got around to finishing this blog. I made it home and life moved on. America slipped from a daily reality to a memory the moment the wheels of the plane hit the ground in Sydney, but I still had this incomplete body of work that never met its eventuality.

Perhaps, the reticence to sit down and write one last post was a ploy to hold on to the adventure for as long as possible? I'd thought about writing a conclusion, and even about an update on how life had changed six months on. I wanted to reach out to my friends scattered all over the world again, but didn't want to be seen looking back. My time abroad was incredible, why look back with sadness as the chapter closed permanently?

It turned out I never had to.

An unsaved post from July 1, 2011, one day after I got home, sat in isolation for nearly two years, floating somewhere in a digital waiting room between being a draft collection of words and a published piece.

What I needed to say was there. There's no point in adding too much more, the original is below as I found it.

Yet, with this forgotten collection of words, I no longer feel like this is the denouement of something I still think about with daily regularity. Instead, I'd rather think of it as another chapter to a story I don't plan on finishing anytime soon. Things have slowed down, but they haven't stopped.

I'm on my way back. Not for long, and without travelling wide. But you'd still settle for a peck on the cheek than nothing at all, right?

Wollongong. July 7, 2011. One day after I got home. No snow here for winter.

July 1, 2011.
Only a masochist looks forward to a 15-hour flight, and my final trip from Los Angeles to Sydney was designed for such a person. As I took my final steps on the continent and boarded the aircraft, it seems some mechanical gremlins did their best to keep me in the country. The plane taxied to the runway, only to turn around when they said a mechanical problem prevented the engine from starting. Such messages rarely settle the nerves, but I was glad for the extra time I got to spend in the U.S. I didn't feel ready to go home, and neither did the plane. Alas, the mechanics resolved the issue, and a few hours later the plane lifted up from the tarmac, taking me and and all of my great American memories with it.

A mix of nerves, a cold, piss-weak sleeping pills and cattle class cut back on what could have been ideal sleeping time, but with a few hours to go and as we flew into the daylight, the gravity of returning home kept me wide awake. I knew I was going to miss America and all of the great people that I met, but I was trading it in for friends and family who I had missed for the last year.

Flying into Sydney normally provides a great view of the city as the plane descends from the north. Past the harbour and its bridge, Centrepoint Tower, the S.C.G. and finally the ocean as it lands on a runway that juts out into the sea. I wasn't so lucky this time, with the views exchanged for those of clouds, rain and other aircraft all over the runway. It didn't look like home as I remembered it, but once customs was cleared and I saw my sister outside the gate, I knew it was.

The winter was colder than I remembered, but still nice enough to sit outside in a hoodie. After another hour or so I was back in Wollongong, back at my parents' house and slowly unpacking my bags. 24 hours earlier I was getting sunburnt in Los Angeles, and as if I didn't need reminding by the fact that the statement is almost true, it felt half the world away.

Writing the last post, July 1, 2011.
Blown away by my new camera phone.
You know, the toughest part of this has been picking a song and subject line. Yet, this is arguably the best song I've heard in about six months. Japandroids - Continuous Thunder. Or this. Your choice, or listen to both.