Monday, March 19, 2012

Day 40: In Transit

As my Greyhound bus pulls out of Sydney’s Central Station, I watch hordes of girls in tight dresses and sky-high heels totter toward the entrances of bars and clubs. They hang on to the arms of boys who are clad in festive green shirts, hats, beads and more.

It is that most epic of drinking holidays: St. Patrick’s Day.

I won’t be celebrating tonight, though. I’ve just flown in from Melbourne and hopped on a train to reach the Greyhound pickup point. Now, I quietly observe the massive queues of party goers stretching from every hot spot as I settle into my seat for a nice 12-hour overnight bus ride. I can’t help but smile.

I’ve had my fair share of green beer and soda bread. I’ve uncoordinatedly bounced along with Irish step dancers. I’ve desperately borrowed green clothing from friends and wickedly pinched those who didn’t put in the same effort.

Tonight, I’m happy to miss out on all that as I hurtle up Australia’s east coast to my next destination. I’m happy to be in transit.

I often feel this strange contentment wash over me as I watch the world shrink below me through an airplane window, or as I navigate a city’s public-transit system for the first time. It’s the feeling of knowing exactly where I’m going, yet having no idea what awaits me there. I have no fear — just delicious anticipation.

The sun rises over the South Pacific on my flight to New Zealand.

I think back on my life in Seattle and remember how I hesitated to venture out to nearby neighborhoods, like Capitol Hill and Queen Anne, because I didn’t know quite how to find my way around. (Part of that was because I disliked driving and hated trying to find parking, even though buses were available.) I usually stayed in my little corner of Ballard or ventured back to my familiar hometown of Woodinville. In other words, I played it safe and explored very little.

There is no bad view in New Zealand.

Out here… well, I have no choice. Every day, I find my way around new places using all types of transportation: buses, trains, trams, ferries, water taxis, airplanes and — my favorite — my feet.

That’s not to say that I’m a master of all these things. I’ve definitely embarrassed myself trying to figure out where to buy a Melbourne tram ticket, and, when I have to ask for help, my American accent screams, “LOOK AT ME! I’M NEW HERE!”

But that all comes with the territory, and the initial fumbling inevitably gives way to understanding. Mastery. Blending in.

Most of all, once I’m on a bus or train or ferry going wherever, I love that I feel capable. Maybe I used to stay so close to home because I feared I wouldn’t be able to figure things out.

Now there’s no question that I’ll figure everything out eventually. It may not be the most graceful process, but I have confidence in myself to do it.

The unknown is no longer a deterrent. It’s an invitation.

I lost my return train ticket out of downtown Sydney, so I hopped on a commuter ferry instead. I've never been happier to lose something.

I’ve done plenty of exciting things during my 40 days of traveling, but I’m finding that these little, happy moments to myself are the most meaningful.

I can look back on my thousands of travel photos to remember all the fun I had, but to summon this particular good feeling, I need only to drink in the scenery from the window of a moving vehicle or take a deep breath as an airplane lifts off from the tarmac.

I always look forward to the doing. Now I remember to savor the going, too.


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  1. Thank you for this post. It reminded me of a time I have long since forgotten - of successfully buying a bus ticket when I was traveling through Spain (foreign language - eek!) and when I got the ticket and on the correct bus it was the exact same triumph and satisfaction that I could handle the unexpected just fine... glad you're enjoying your adventure, too bad you're only visiting the east coast...

    1. That's the exact feeling! Glad you've felt it, too. Maybe I'll return to Australia and do Perth, Alice Springs, Tasmania and all those other awesome places people tell me I MUST visit.

  2. "There is no bad view in New Zealand". You couldn't be more on point, and I literally stopped to think about and nod my head in agreement about that one. If you've not already, perhaps you should be pitching it to Tourism New Zealand :)

  3. Great stuff...I would have much rather been on a 12 hour bus in Australia than the pub on Saturday. Especially given how I felt all day on Sunday:)

    1. I felt a little drunk from sleep deprivation, but yes, in general I felt better on March 18 than I usually do! : )

  4. This is our off-travel year (fixing up the condo) and I am so GRATEFUL to have this blog as my travel adventure. I am so thankful that you've decided to post and Facebook along the way. It really DOES make a difference to those of us grounded in the U.S.

    Have fun and know that I send safety and peace prayers your way, Devon.

  5. Hey Devon!

    I definitely get that feeling while flying. I also become more contemplative than usual.

    How are you doing so far on feeling "unhurried?"

    Keep up the great posts!


    1. Yes, definitely more contemplative! I always start writing blog posts in my head while in transit.

      Doing well with "unhurried"! And I've also gotten REALLY laid back with travel plans and just figuring things out whenever. It's niiiice.

  6. I love these shirt. I bought 2 different colors and I'm going to buy a couple more. It was exactly what I wanted and what I expected to get.


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