We hurried back to the car, our bellies full of meat pies and sausage rolls and we tried to avoid being hit by a tram. Okay, I tried not to get hit by a tram. My boyfriend on the other hand moved smoothly through the crowd, dodging pedestrians that weaved in crazy patterns around the sidewalks. Car horns blared, people yelled, and trams slid on by as the busy city hummed with life.
This was a headache of a place.
A beautiful beautiful headache.
When we eventually made it back to the car I had a glistening sweat on my upper brow and decided to tug off my jacket, settling it like a cozy blanket over my lap. We then made our way back onto the crazy streets and I began to sway back and forth again in the car as we rounded each and every corner. The streets were shaded as the tall buildings protected our view of the sun, even though it was supposed to be high in the sky at this hour.
What time was it back home?
Conversations picked up and my jet lag was settling in like an old friend. Maybe blanketing the jacket was a bad idea. When was the last time I had slept? Yesterday? No, the day before. Let’s see… I left on the first of August and what’s today’s date? The third? Holy shit. Not being able to sleep on the planes was a bad habit that I would eventually need to break. How was I still awake??
My boyfriend squeezed my hand and smiled, reminding me instantly of why I was still conscious. I mean, how could I possibly sleep at a time like this?
We then made it to the soccer fields of where my boyfriend played and I bit my lip in hesitation. I didn’t want to get out of the cozy car and my stomach was tying itself in knots thinking about meeting packs of people he knew.
I was a stranger. I was a girlfriend of one of the players. I was an outsider. I was American.
And yeah, we Americans pride ourselves on being pretty damn awesome. Because, ya know, we are pretty damn awesome. But guess what? Every other country pretty much hates our guts. You know why? Because we think of ourselves as pretty damn awesome. All of the time.
So meeting a flock (a pod? a pack? a gang?) of Australians was kinda intimidating. I wasn’t the smartest cookie in the batch nor was I the brightest crayon in the box when it came to people from other countries. I was raised in the South. And I was raised in America. And let’s be honest here, the only history we learn about in America, is American history. Now is that my fault? Of course not! But that didn’t make me tremble in my boots a little less.
We walked down the hill, my hands wrapped tightly around myself as if in support. My boyfriend had hurt his ankle the week before my arrival so him playing was out of the question. We were there for encouragement.
As soon as we got to the stands people were yelling his name, his nickname, his last name, and a lot of other absurd things that would make Southern mothers cover their child’s ears.
They welcomed me instantly, letting me in on their jokes and wanted to talk a great deal about my opinion on Americas gun laws. (Australians loved to talk about gun laws), but mostly they yelled about the game going on in front of us. Now with me dating an Australian soccer player you may assume that I too love soccer. Uh….. negative. Sure I loved sports. I even played a year of college softball and pretty much grew up a jock. But soccer? Let’s just say that I played a year when I was 8 and I did cart wheels on the side lines.
My soccer career ended rather early. Obviously not my forte.
People cheered, argued, bickered, complained, and even yelled at the ref a couple of times (okay, a lot of times).
It was a great day.
Until it started raining.
Back story on my health at the time: I had just gotten over walking pneumonia the week before. Sooo standing in the rain in the freezing cold wasn’t exactly my idea of a good time… Definitely when it was to watch a soccer game.
But I sucked it up, and hey, after a while my body went numb and I couldn’t feel anything anyways.
What? That’s not a good thing? Oh well.
But soon the game was over. I’m pretty sure we lost. I can’t remember. Something about being sleep deprived made me a little forgetful.
It took everything in me not to run to the car and crank up the heat. But then I remembered where we were going and I slowed my pace….
We were going to meet the parents.
Anxiety took over and I burrowed into the car, wet hair and everything. This was something I knew was going to happen. I mean, of course it would happen.
It was just so real now.
We drove for about an hour and I tried to hide my shivering and convulsing under my large jacket. My skin was pale and my hair was in damp knots. I was going to look like a wet dog for his parents.
But then we made it and luck was on my side.
His parents weren’t home yet.
The house was exactly how I remembered seeing it in pictures and skype calls. It was beautiful. Everything was so modern and sleek and I instantly fell in love with the red sofas in one of the living rooms. All of my viewings were cut short though when I finally saw the bed. I kicked off my shoes and nested into the large blanket. My boyfriend laid down beside me, holding me tightly to him as if to help me warm up. He told me to rest but I just couldn’t yet. I was too anxious.
It wasn’t long before we heard the front door open and close and a voice called out that sounded familiar only over Skype.
The parents were home.
It was now time for dinner.
I tried to freshen up as quickly as I could but felt that keeping them waiting was rude and they wanted to meet me probably as much as I wanted to meet them. So I took in a deep breath and exhaled slowly, looking at myself in the mirror and telling myself that there was no reason for them to not love me. I mean, besides the whole “American” business.
They were absolutely wonderful.
They took me in as if I were one of their own and sat me down at the table, my spot already set and ready.
I smiled and made myself a small plate, not very hungry at the moment since I still wasn’t used to this time change business. I’m pretty sure it was midnight at home, and this definitely was not a midnight snack.
Lamb was on the menu for the night. A rich meat in which I had never tried before. It was delicious and nothing like the rich deer meat we eat at home.
Conversation flowed with the parents asking how all of my flights went and what we did for the day. When I told them about the game they looked at my boyfriend and furrowed their eyebrows only slightly. “Didn’t it rain today?” I laughed and nodded, still rubbing my hands together for warmth.
Dinner carried on with casual conversations that my sleep deprived mind did not register into my memory bank. Me, being a sarcastic kind of gal, hit it off quickly with my boyfriends step dad, bantering back and forth with him. I had even already picked up a new nickname:
“The bloody tourist”
Guess that was one that was going to stick.
Dinner ended early for me as it was then late enough to consider it a decent bedtime. I thanked his mother for the delicious dinner and apologized for not eating much on my scarce appetite at the moment but she shushed me, saying it was just more for the boys to eat later and to not worry about it.
Once ready and tucked into bed I felt at peace. I felt happy. I felt home.
Large arms wrapped around me and I sighed contently, finally thawed with fuzzy socks on my feet and I let myself drift into an Australian slumber, dreaming of the adventures and memories yet made.
Until Next Time!!!