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Je ne sais quoi: In Search of a Feeling that I thought 2020 had Robbed

Preface: I wrote this post in early October, just days after the curfew to Melbourne’s 7.5-month lockdown ended. I want to share this on my little corner of the Internet as it is a reminder to myself of what I want to aim for as we move into 2021.

Right now I’m sitting in my living room. The leather couch a little too warm from sitting here too long today, the sliding doors to my balcony thrown open as I watch the lint coloured clouds swirl and roll in over the terracotta roof of my neighbour’s home.

Rain is coming.

You can feel it in the air. The moistness that hangs and beads upon your skin. Maybe I’m overly aware of it, having not grown up among the humidity.

The opening bass chords of Sastanàqqàm by Tirawian start to play in the background and I was transported to another place.

Caged

I started this site 12-years ago. It’s always been a passion project for me, even when it was my sole income. It’s my place to share, learn, and write. But for the past four years, it’s been a frantic race to keep on top of SEO to bring in traffic and drive revenue.

It can be exhausting.

It can dry up any passion I have for this site at all.

I’d have weeks when I’d write these posts like a madwoman possessed, and then weeks or months where I could not muster the want to write about one more silly hotel.

I thought this side of me had changed a little after my trip to Afghanistan and Pakistan in 2019.

This journey was, without a doubt, a life-changing journey, much of which I still have no fully processed. Something inside my intrinsically changed, and I have yearned to go back to continue working out what that was.

I had fully intended on returning in late 2020, this time for pomegranate season to continue to explore this je ne sais quoi – this feeling, this change I had begun to experience but left the country too quickly to complete the metamorphosis.

My plans were dashed when coronavirus came and the Australian Government has shut the borders to all but a few hundred people each day.

As someone’s whose identity is so closely tied to travelling, with the lack of knowledge when the borders would be open, when the people of the world would heal; I didn’t want to look at travel photos, to think of past adventures, when there was no date when I could travel again, even just back to my hometown in South Australia which had shut the borders to Victoria due to our increasing number of COVID-19 cases.

I was fine until one day I wasn’t.

So I had a few drinks, and then a few more. I cried until I thought I couldn’t cry anymore, but everything – even the cute dogs of Instagram – set me off into a bubbling, weeping mess.

I felt like a caged animal.

I still feel like a caged animal, albeit one without a curfew now, having had it lifted just a few weeks ago and normalcy beginning to slowly return.

Two-sides

As the bass chords of Sastanàqqàm begin to play through the speakers, the rhythmic drumming a staple of much North African music, I began to feel myself relax more than I had in some time.

The sounds of the world.
The smell of rain in the air.
The thought that… for the first time in a long while… that I -can- withstand a few more months of this.

The sounds the music reminded me of a long-night in Kabul where I danced, drunk on bootleg alcohol, with friends; the sound of the music reminded me of the wonderful people I had met during my trip there, and how it had awoken something in me that had been dormant for so, so many years.

I don’t want to lose that… that je ne sais quoi, that feeling, that I cannot describe to others.

It’s a feeling that you are on the right path, even if it seems so wrong to outsiders.

It reminded me of the stories I wanted to share.

The things I wanted to experience.

It made me hungry.

This is still my little corner of the internet which I can share the things that interest me. And while I don’t doubt there will be still a few more ‘hotels to stay in near….’ posts, or ‘tips for visiting….’, I really want to focus on the reasons that I began this sight.

To provide two-sides to stories.

Like the first one I wrote: Summer camp will be great, but…

Like the next ones I will write will be: Aghanistan is a war-torn country, but…

The past week has seen a change in my energy. Yes, I’m still exhausted by life in lockdown in Melbourne. I’m exhausted by all the negative media, the inability to see friends and family, to travel further than a 5km radius; but deep within me, I’ve also dug down and found some of that ignited a passion that flows through me.

I just need to find ways and places to share it.

Here’s to the next adventure. L’chaim!

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