I look in the mirror and notice that my nose has turned pink. I lean in closer to the mirror and spot a dozen or so freckles on my forehead that weren’t there ten hours ago. My hair smells of salt and is tangled up in messy waves despite of my best efforts to keep it straight. As I shuffle around in my tiny bathroom I feel sand crunching underneath my feet, and when I catch one last glimpse of myself in the mirror, I notice that I’m smiling for no reason at all.
I suspect I’ve had a smile on my face for the past six hours straight.
Not counting the first couple of days (when I literally felt like an alien; thank you jetlag), I have felt really comfortable and content here in Australia right from the beginning. I could tell right away that this place suits me. Sure, there are cultural differences that keep popping up and some surprises; like the fact that Australia is actually “Norway-expensive”. But all in all, I can tell that this is somewhere I will feel at home.
However – the weather has been incredibly unpredictable since I’ve been here (it is winter, after all), so it wasn’t until last Sunday that we actually went to the beach. It was a warm, sunny day with not a cloud in the sky. We spent the day at Mooloolaba Beach swimming in the ocean, sunbathing, taking long walks, and window shopping at the beach side stores. The same feeling came over me as when I last found myself on such a beautiful beach, in Mexico: there is no other place in the world I want to be right now. I am right where I belong. This is my happy.
I was born and raised far up in the northern corner of the world where winters are long and cold and summers are short but sweet. I was born and raised in and around a capital city and am used to the hustle and bustle of city life. I was born and raised far away from tropical beaches. And yet I feel the most like myself when I am on or near the beach. I’m realizing more and more that I don’t want a city, where you have to look presentable at all times and pay too much for coffee and rent. I want flip-flops and sunglasses, my skin sticky from salt water, make-up free and sun-kissed smiling faces all around me, complete disregard for what time it is besides ‘time for lunch’ and ‘time for the last bus home after sun-down’. It’s becoming clearer and clearer to me that I might be born to be beach bum. Give me a small beach town (preferably not too far away from mountains) over London and Paris any day. At some point I could abso-freaking-lutely see myself sitting in a cafe by a beach somewhere in the world and saying to myself: “I’m never leaving this place. Period.” And that’ll be that.
You might think, “Obviously everyone is happy at the beach.” But what I’m trying to explain is more than that. It’s about that feeling of being away from something I love so damn much and then finding it again – it feels like, Yes. I’m here again. I’m me again. It feels like exhaling after holding my breath for months and months since I was last in a similar place.
I’m gonna go to bed now with my new freckles and my sandy feet and sleep like a baby because I had the best day. And knowing that I’m not going to run out of these days because there’s no 9-5 job to go home to in two weeks’ time is the best feeling I’ve had in a long time.