Friday, January 21, 2011

The Day Before I Went Home

I must admit that I still have post-holiday hangover. So once in a while I will blog about my trip to attempt to document that which I was not able to process immediately.

For the Sunday mass on the Baptism of the Lord, I went to Our Lady of Dolours in Chatswood. It was right after Christmas Day, also known as Boxing Day in those parts. The streets were very quiet. On the way home, my father and I were the only people on the bus!

Many Asians go to mass here. There's even a Filipino mass once a month where Pinoy food is served afterwards. The parishioners do it potluck and they bring their individual specialties. I skipped this one as I didn't actually miss Pinoy food while I was away.

I returned to this Church the week after, during the Feast of the Epiphany. As if to close the book on my holiday, to prepare me for Ordinary Time.

I had mixed feelings that day. I was very, very grateful for how the six weeks had turned out. At the same time I was very sad as I was leaving and going back to the real world, my real life, and all my responsibilities. Most of all, I was going to miss my parents, my niece, my Ate, and my brother-in-law.

I talked to God, thanking Him profusely, asking Him to take care of my family. I also recognized how blessed I was, that it was time of spring again. And then I asked Him to show me what He wanted me to bring home - what attitudes, goals, hopes, and experiences should stand out. Of course everything I had seen and done would forever stay with me - it was, after all, a life-changing trip inside and out - but they were all mixed inside my head. I needed clarity as I started a new year and a new life.

I was very much aware of how the seasons had changed while I was in Oz. I arrived just before Advent started, and it was still springtime in Sydney. The neighborhood I lived in, Lane Cove, was covered in Jacaranda lilac. It was so beautiful. It was also, more importantly, the First Sunday of Advent. I finished Advent, attended Christmas, all the way to the Feast of the Three Kings.

My mother removed the Christmas decor the day that I left for home. My family back home and officemates were so sweet as to wait for me before removing their belens, Christmas trees, and other decorations. I was touched.

I got a warm welcome everywhere I went. I thus did not feel so sad. A bit disorientated, yes (I used to say "disoriented"), but not really out of place.

I am now living in two worlds, at home in both. Just like the movie Inception, however, I had to wake up from my beautiful dream and to start living again. I will be back to dream land soon, and perhaps one day my reality will involve just one world. Just one life. Someday.

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Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Awesome Oz

Our God is an awesome God. I asked for very little for my trip - just a chance to meet old friends, make new friends, celebrate with family, visit Hunter Valley, watch U2, and rest. I know, that sounds grand already, doesn't it?

I got so much more.

My niece is the loveliest niece on earth. I know all doting aunts say that, so sue me. But she is! I miss waking up to her smile and watching her dance in her playpen and carrying all 10 kilos of her. I am grateful that she is a healthy, happy baby.

I got to see the doctor of my dreams. Please see previous post for more on that. I'm on the road to health myself and, consequently, happiness.

I went on several dates. I'm not talking about sticky date pudding, which was hands down the best dessert I had during that trip, but I got to meet real men of different nationalities, all university graduates, and a few of them I did find interesting.

I went to beautiful beaches. I visited several churches, some for the first time. I slept over old friends' houses. I met a wonderful family who shared their story with me.

I attended many parties, the most fabulous of which was hosted by my sister and my brother-in-law. I stayed in a hotel with the most amazing view of the Sydney Opera House and the Harbour Bridge.

I was able to spend a mighty long time with my family, whom I've missed the past year due to our distance from one another. That was really awesome. Although we weren't complete, technology brought us closer to the rest.

I got to be there when Sydney was at the height of Oprah Fever. I made several trips to the grocery store, which all my friends know is my favorite chore. Next to doing the laundry of course, which I got to perform. Several times!!! Then I was able to conquer my sister's kitchen with a few dishes that were instant hits. I even attended my high school reunion online, at a batchmate's house, via live feed.

The ending was fitting - I watched the amazing fireworks display on New Year's Eve along with 1.5 million people who gathered at the Sydney Harbour. I learned that there were more people in Sydney Harbour that night than in New York City's Times Square. As the sky lit up in vibrant colors shooting from barges, buildings, and that famous bridge, I could not help but thank God for the grand ending to my holiday.

All in all, my vacation was not bad. Not bad at all. In fact, it was awesome!!! I am grateful to God, my family, and my friends for making this possible. I am trying to snap out of the vacation mode. The Church has started Ordinary Time after the Baptism of the Lord. Having spent Advent and Christmas in a special way, I am aware of the change in season.

Just like I prayed, I have been changed by this trip. I will write more about it in the future. I have created a slideshow of my favorite shots and will include a link here sometime.

Meanwhile, I am crawling back to reality as a changed woman. As to how, I will find the inspiration to write about it sometime soon.