How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.
Winnie the Pooh, A.A. Milne
In Psychology, we learn of a term, “blooming, buzzing confusion,” which describes that of a newborn baby’s first experiences with the world. The rhythmic ebb and flow of voices, the explosion of colours, the texture of a flower petal, the taste of milk — each of the senses tingling distinctly, then coalesced into one. The world must seem so beautiful and yet so terrifying, as it unfolds upon itself in rapid speed.
Five years ago, I set foot into Brisbane. I felt like a newborn baby then. My hair was cropped short. I had one suitcase full of clothes, my laptop bag, and a boatload of mixed emotions and confusion. I had been yanked out into the blinding world. My life which had previously been on pause, was suddenly hurtling on in “fast forward” speed.
If I could replay my life in montages, perhaps this would be a fitting time. I remember each fragment of my memory with the precise emotion it evoked, along with the sounds, the smells, the sights.
I remember my first venture into Brisbane city, where I shared a meal with a newfound friend. It was mediocre Korean food, but it felt like the most delicious thing to me. They served Kimchi and mayo salad in little metal bowls, which I was excited to learn that I could refill. Also, I made a friend! My heart was as full as my stomach.
I remember the initial anxiety of sitting in the bus, and constantly fearing that it would stop me in a strange and unfamiliar place. Once I took the wrong bus, and it drove along a beautiful jacaranda path, before ending up where I intended to go anyway. Distracted by the flurry of purple flowers in full bloom, I briefly forgot about my anxiety. That day, I learnt that sometimes, it was alright to be lost.
I remember the sandstone walls of my university, and how they spanned along the hallways of the Great Court. Over the course of the years, I would walk along these hallways as a different person, each time. Something was always quietly, furiously shifting, within me.
I remember taking refuge from the pouring rain in Hartley Teakle, a slightly dilapidated building, but not without charm. Tutorials had been cancelled, and I was the only student there. I pulled out a chair, and sat in silence, surrounded by nothing but research posters and Biology charts. I plugged in my headphones, and disappeared into my own world. I even remember the song. Outside, it continued to rain.
I remember the peace I felt, when I sat in my first Psychology lecture. It had been a lonely, disorientating week of fumbling through sign-on systems, clashing timetables, and mixed up tutorials. I sank into the ambience of the lecture —the murmuring of students, the flipping of notes. The lecturer was teaching us about different parts of the brain, something about the frontal lobes. I looked around and thought, I’m a university student! I’m finally a university student!
I could go on and on about the memories I had, at risk of sounding like a John Green novel. I have far too many to choose from.
Enjoying hotpot with housemates, and laughing until my sides split from their antics. Getting drunk under the stars, to the symphony of an open orchestra. Making up songs with a friend, deep into the night. Conversations with Mr President, who made me feel like it was alright to ponder deeply about the universe. Meeting a strange medical student, who insulted my hands, but also stole my first kiss. Puking my guts out from alcohol poisoning, because I was foolish enough to drink over a broken heart. Running home with the biggest smile breaking across my face, because I had successfully presented a speech. Pulling off an art exhibition, where I had people openly appreciate my art for the first time. Driving to a prison facility with friends, to observe kangaroos. Crying alone in the computer lab and absolutely hating myself, over my honours thesis. Starting a design course, and feeling flow for the first time in a long time. Finishing it, and growing weary and lost again.
Happiness, friendship, warmth, love, magic.
Disappointment, loneliness, depression, despair.
Brisbane has given me the opportunity to experience an incredible spectrum of emotions, each one felt deeply and profoundly.
During my last week in Brisbane, I started to write farewell letters. The amount surprised me. I had written more letters than I had realised. I met up with the people I could meet, tied up loose ends, and enjoyed each “final” conversation. As the day dipped into night, I always felt a little sadder. It was as if I realised that something beautiful was about to end. If anything, I suppose it was testament that I was leaving behind something precious. And perhaps that alone, is something to celebrate.
I left Brisbane with two suitcases, my hair, grown past my shoulders, and plenty of bittersweet memories. I wept silently and thankfully, in the plane.
To my beloved Brisbane, I will remember your jacaranda trees.