So I have returned to Australia and my former home. I’m still a little “weirded out” at the prospect of calling this place home now. The project was my home for so long that it’s hard to readjust to the “real world” as we referred to it with such awe and wonder out there.
I’m struggling a little to see the awe and wonder at the moment.
I can’t explain enough how happy I was and how calmed I felt to see my family, there was something about seeing their (not all of them just yet) faces that made me feel like I was, ultimately, home. Yet there still feels like there was something missing, like I can’t completely relax into Cairns life.
I’m beginning to understand what the problem is, and it’s not like the town has changed, or the lifestyle, that is still as relaxing and as appealing as ever. No, the difference this time is that I’ve changed; I didn’t think the year would make that sort of an impact on me, but apparently it has.
This year, I went on an adventure. This year, I took 12 months to do something that I will treasure and carry with me forever. This year, I grew up.
I think the strangest thing has been returning to ‘civilian’ life, to working normal hours, on regular days, having two (TWO) entire (from begin to end, folks) days off in a row. Driving on tarred roads to get to work, not dirt and probably most importantly, driving in cars that don’t make a thousand strange noises while you drive them through the desert (but I feel they are severely lacking in character).Going out for dinner – just because (although to be completely honest this has been severely lacking due to a depressing amount of funds), visiting friends (and not planning a trip two week s ahead of schedule to ensure approval for vehicle usage), and going to the beach.
Oh my friends – THE BEACH! That glorious, magnificent place that I didn’t realise how badly I had missed until I returned. That sandy, salty goodness is just as I remembered it – blissful. The sweet return made the year without it completely worth it.
This is the stuff they forgot to mention. They sold me on “real science”, “field work” and “Africa” everything else was just the filler for the year. What they forgot to mention was the struggles that come with returning to the real world. Now, I’m not saying in ANY way shape or form that I regret a single second out there or any decisions that may have stemmed from that. I mean sure, there were a couple of hangovers I could’ve done without, but even then, those hangovers usually followed some pretty amazing nights *cue flashback to Kelsey’s trivia night birthday party*.
I miss the place. I do. I miss my desert, I miss my friends, the meerkats, just being in Africa everyday – in the freaking desert! I’m learning that it’s possible to be lonely in a place, even when surrounded by people. I’m not being melodramatic, I’m not trying to make you go “awww poor Kelps”. No. I’m just trying to convey the “post-KMP hangover”.
The volunteer information booklet should’ve come with a little section titled ‘Things to be Aware of Upon Return to Civilisation’, it would’ve mentioned some things like –
- Rush hour, no matter how big or little your town, is terrifying.
- There are lots of people everywhere. EVERYWHERE.
- Remember all that delicious food you used to eat Before the KMP? Well there’s that. And now more. Decisions on meals are HARD. I give you “Donutella” – diabetes in a donut.
- People make comments about how much tea you drink. Why is 7 cups a day suddenly too many?
- Kitchen dance parties are not normally a ‘thing’, and asking for one results in strange facial expressions and comments.
- Everything ‘normal’ to everyone else is ridiculously exciting to you. Constant, fast wi-fi? Are you kidding! Fresh milk? NO WAY. A bottle shop within walking distance? GET THE HELL OUT.
- You can go to parties and not hear the same song once. Not even once. How unbelievable is that? A whole night without repeats? Who knew?!
I think you get my point. There are a few things that to everybody else seem like trivial things, but after a year in the desert these things are some of the craziest, most exciting things that could be happening to us right now.
The more I write, the more I feel like maybe I was living in a cult.
Now, regardless of the negative side effects of detoxing from the KMP, I am in no way, shape or form trying to say it wasn’t worth it, because I’m pretty sure from all my previous rants/pictures/blogs/posts/texts/messages that I’ve clearly explain that it was most definitely worth it.
All I have to do now is figure out this real world nonsense, find some real science and then tell you all about it (and yes I’m in the process of this – yours truly will soon be in a lab, staring down a microscope for a couple of hours every week #realscience ). Luckily, I spend at least 20 hours a week at the zoo working and interacting with wild animals – oh and the animals in our enclosures.
Get it? Because people are animals…you got it, right? Do I need to break it down further…? If you laugh to my satisfaction at that joke, I promise I’ll write you one about “life as a zookeeper…poo to your heart’s content”.
Anyway, I feel like this one might have been virtually pointless, but it made me feel better and hopefully helped non-KMPers understand some of the struggle that those of us going through the “post-KMP hangover” may have suffered or are suffering. What we had out there was a family, a lifestyle, a career and a home, we’re all just trying to figure out how to find those things again in the ‘real world’.
Let us know if you can point us in the right direction.