It feels a little unusual not to be six and crazy around the airport. I feel a little sad inside and miss my family all of a sudden. I wonder if it would always like this. But I cherish this time with my mum. We aren’t the closest but I thank her beyond words for bringing me into this world. More so now that she asks me to fly to Australia with her. Almost like she knew I was getting a little lonely in Manila.
Our night flight was cold and comfy. I watch travel videos the entire night and fall in love with Iceland and Vietnam while mum sleeps in. I fall asleep (finally — a favor I did for everybody around me because I was probably giggling too much — Anh is too silly!) and wake to broad daylight. I stare at all the beauty outside my window for a good 45 minutes before I eat breakfast and stumble upon a childhood favorite movie.
We wander Melbourne’s CBD the entire afternoon — my mum, my uncles, aunts and I — our fingers numb from the cold and the strong winds combined. We get lost until we stopped even thinking of getting to our destination, laughing almost endlessly and ending up in many good, random places. I cherish that day though — it was the only time we got to go around the city and I know there’s still so much to see.
The next day, a coach picks us up before lunch for a road trip to the south. After awkward introductions, we are all silent until we park by a lake for hot drinks and sandwiches. I meet a girl named Coco and she tells me she just graduated from high school, traveling around the world before she goes to uni. I can tell she’s wealthy. I ask her what her name is and she says ‘just call me Coco’ and I reply, ‘because you just love Chanel’ as a joke and she replies with a serious face ‘exactly’. We talk about many good things and I tell her I’m a little envious with her parents allowing her to travel. She says they don’t really have a choice and I realize that I’m just as afraid of missing my family as they are thinking of me leaving home. That, and I want to deserve my travels. So I’m jealous, yes, but I really won’t have it any other way.
We stop at one beach and all I did was take deep inhales and say internal thanks to the universe for bringing me in here, in this moment. I know I probably will never be back here again so I ignore the cold and memorize as much details as I could until my uncle calls me and says everybody’s been waiting for me. We press on as we stop at many pretty places, meet koalas and kangaroos along the way, my mom forcing me to pose for her countless of times (I regret allowing her to bring a camera she can use for herself) until we finally arrive in Phillip Island.
We end the day by Summerland Beach, so glorious by dusk. We all sit still, teeth chattering from the cold, patiently waiting for the little penguins to reach shore. We aren’t allowed to take photographs by there (so we don’t scare the penguins away) and I savor the moment. Everyone is silent. It’s just us and the sunset and the waves. And all of a sudden these little penguin families arrive one by one and everyone quietly watches, eyes intent on their every move. I don’t watch the penguins much and instead watch the people. It’s comforting to see how man still delights in nature. We belong to the sea and to the leaves and to the one who made all these possible.
The truth is I don’t take much photographs during this trip. I try to breathe in all that is happening instead of documenting it all like I usually do. I think I irritate my mum a little bit, telling her to stop taking photographs and just, feel. It’s just, I have so much love for photography and film and documenting life, except sometimes I feel like it’s not right. Like I’m robbing myself of actually living and seeing and being. And that some moments are only really meant to be stored in the heart and nowhere else. That’s just me.