Arrival · Travel

Last Day Before Departure

It began as an ordinary Wednesday, well, as ordinary as you can get when your belongings are organised into bags and boxes rather than distributed around your rooms. Brittany had stayed the night, and we needed to get into uni by 9 AM. Normal things ensued: breakfast, showers and so on. It seemed an insignificant fact that by the evening, I would be jetting off to London.

Since the weekend, I’d been sorting all of my belongings, working out what to take and what to leave behind. I was running to a strict 30kg limit, so in order to make sure that everything would fit, I was weighing each of the items individually. This quickly turned into weighing items that I wasn’t taking, but instead organising into a series of boxes. Why? For completeness sake. Box one is for useful textbooks and folios of work from the last two years. Box two is for course and lecture notes and notebooks. Boxes three, four are for assorted items of clothing that I am attached to or have some sentimental value but I can’t take with me. Box five is for formal clothing that I can’t take. Box six is for the assorted bits and pieces I have collected over the years and don’t want to throw out. And finally, box seven is for assorted notes and folios of work from year 12 and first year uni.

We drove to the bus station, rode the bus in to uni just like a normal day, but in the back of my mind was the thought that this would not happen again. But just like normal, I dropped Brittany by her office and went to the Physics building to do the final bits of work that I wanted to get finished.  My draft paper is all but complete, as I implemented the last of the corrections from my co-authors. There was, however, a pair of plots that needed to be fixed, to which I confirmed my suspicion that there were missing datapoints. I worked out what data needed to be recomputed and sent it off to my co-author to calculate. At this time, I regenerated my plots with the data I had and circulated my ninth draft.

Before lunch, I went to see my honours supervisors and the office staff at CoEPP to thank them for their work and efforts and to express my parting gratitude. Then at one, my officemates and I went out to a final farewell lunch at the Schnithouse on Rundle Street. Not everybody was there; Jason had been in Geneva since the weekend and Andre was touring in Queensland, but it was relaxing to hang out with the people I have shared the last two years in particular with, plus a couple of present honours students who I have got to know more recently. On the menu was a large parmi, something I consider one of my favourite Australian foods (even though its roots are elsewhere). After lunch it was time to farewell my officemates at the street corner opposite the hospital. The gravity of the situation didn’t seem to present, it seemed like I was just saying goodbye to catch the bus home instead of not seeing them for many months if not years. In any case, some heartfelt words were said (if a little blunt) and farewell hugs and handshakes were exchanged.

It was time to head home for the final time. I needed to ensure that I had everything packed and ready to go. A final shower, and a couple of computer tasks for dad later, I found myself gathering my family around outside for a final family photograph. Plus I took some photos to show off to people I may meet in England. But of course, the centre of attention once again was the new puppy.

The time dawned as I farewelled my brother, and went with my parents and Brittany to the airport. It was here and only here that the day really started to feel momentous. Check-in with Qatar was straightforward, even though it harked back to the days at the start of the century where queues at check-in were still an issue. I had an hour or so left, so we snacked on some juice and muffins at a cafe in the airport, in a rather similar manner to how I had farewelled Nana a week or so ago on her way to Queensland. I also filled out my departure slip, being able to check the box to “leave Australia permanently” (usually I am only leaving Australia temporarily), which was an amusing novelty.

Finally it was time to say the final farewells, to Brittany and my parents as we walked to the international departure gate. A last hug and kiss with a few caring words were followed by a wave as I made my way into the immigration area to begin the adventure beyond…

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