I’m very excited today, I am IN FLOW, totally focussed on researching and planning my upcoming trip to India. My very wonderful friend Phi has once again astounded us with his generosity and, as an early 30th birthday present for the two of us, has funded (with his frequent flyer points) a very fabulous trip to India in April of next year. I think everyone needs a friend like Phi.. and not just because he’ll fly you to India for your 30th birthday!

I’m very very super excited about it, especially since I have had an imaginary India itinerary in my head since 2005 when our backpacking trip came to shuttering halt in Vietnam when we realised that we had run out of money and had to come home (I am way too much of a sucker to have ever learned how to successfully barter, and I kept giving all our money away to grubby children and poverty stricken schools!).

I am also excited because it means I will be able to cross two very big things off my list:

#29. Visit at least one new country
and
#65. Celebrate my 30th birthday by doing something fabulous

Technically my birthday is at the end of March, and we aren’t flying out until April 7th, but I’m still going to count it because it IS a birthday present, and we would have been in India for my actual birthday, except Luke has to work over the Easter long weekend.

So, now I am in the zone planning and researching and getting all excited about all the things we will see. I think I actually enjoy the planning of our holidays as much as I enjoy the actual holidays, I’m strange like that I guess. I’m very excited to be dusting off our backpacks and money wallets and heading back out into the big bad world. I only wish it could be longer than 3 weeks!

So, who among my beloved readers has been to India? Any?
If so, tell me all about it! Where should I go? What should I avoid? What did you love? Tell me everything!

 

PHOTO CREDITS TO LONELY PLANET

There is something really wonderful about coming to Melbourne. I find it so empowering to return here year after year. Though I only lived here for 5 years, it feels like home. Right now I’m holed up in my hotel room, a little seedy, with a view of another persons window less than a metre from mine, but just a few steps from degraves street – the hip coffee hub of town – and just a few minutes walk from ‘the clocks’ at Flinders Street Station, the ‘meeting place’ for friends and lovers alike.

Although I lived here for such a short time, those years were so filled with life. My Melbourne years were very much my ‘coming of age’ years and I will always treasure them. Most of my current day friends are friends I met through my first Melbourne job where I was receptionist in an international student accommodation building for 2.5 years. I still have friends all over the world from that job, not to mention that I met my 3 closest friends in those walls (room 519!). Of the 20 guests at my wedding, all but seven of them could be traced back to that job, and the people I met there.. in fact if I had never met them, I wouldn’t have met my husband. How different life would have been without that job.

When I first moved here I was running away from my small town upbringing, I craved the anonymity of a big city, the freedom to discover myself without a whole town watching. I moved here with my friend K and her 3 year old son D. I’ve no idea why they agreed to come with me but I’m so thrilled that they did. We shared a house in the suburbs our first year here, when I wasn’t working nights, or studying at TAFE, I would come home and read bedtime stories to D and he would fall asleep in my arms. But I was working in the city, and studying full time as well and making new friends in town and K was feeling abandoned. When our lease came up for renewal K decided to move in with her folks and so I moved out on my own in Richmond into a tiny flat in a crumbly old building. I loved that flat and it became the scene for many a party over the next few years. What started out as just my little place turned into the crash pad for a cast of thousands, soon there were three of us living there full time (the two gals from 519 and I) and various boyfriends and friends and interstate visitors pulling up a patch of floor whenever they needed to. There was always people, and music, and drinking and love in those four walls. The three of us – three girls, all out of towners and the very best of friends – were inseparable, we did almost everything together, and the times that we weren’t together we would be texting each other frantically about whatever it was we were doing. We were so close that when they went home to Perth for summer holidays, I would go with them, meeting their parents, partying with their school friends. It was heaven.

These days the three of us live in three different states. We see each other once or twice a year if we are lucky, though I still consider them my very best friends. One of us is married with two young daughters, it’s incredible to believe that we were once these three young girls, so lost and trusting and full of life, living at full speed every single day, drunk on freedom and passion and $5 bottles of pink ‘champagne’.

So coming into Melbourne – the skybus trip from the airport to Spencer St station specifically – brings back so much of that for me. Not to mention the years that came after, the early years before my husband was my husband and was just the cute boy I had a crush on, Melbourne was the scene for the first couple of dizzying years of our relationship when we were so desperately in love and lust and totally intoxicated with each other. Our first home together was a high rise apartment with city views which we shared with various people from the big hearted pommie boy stoner turned marathon runner to the crazy but lovable psycho girl and her equally crazy (but remarkably less lovable) boyfriend who would scream at each other in massive arguements long into the night. The parties we had there, with countless people smoking and drinking on our ginormous balcony – almost as big as and running for the entire length of the apartment, New Years parties, Australia Day parties, Orphan Christmasses for the people we knew whos families were a world away, or not worth visiting; Birthday parties and farewell parties and ‘oh look, I got a great deal on ecstacy’ parties.

My life here was always so varied and interesting, from drinking competitions with the USA frat boys to dancing up a storm in a dark and smoky goth club, my Melbourne years shaped me in a way that no other phase of my life has to date and I think that no matter where I go, no matter how many cities I live in or countries I move to, I will always think of Melbourne as my true home.

And what better place to do number 12 on my list “take a trip by myself”. I have left hubby at home for this little holiday, choosing to explore the Melbourne of my past without him. I’m here to eat at my favourite restaurants, meet with old friends, and wander the streets and I reminisce about my history here. It feels good to be here on my own, free to do as I please, and free too, to miss him a little as I go about my day, I think that’s so important in a marriage, to long for each other a little, it makes going home to him something to be treasure just a little bit more.