When I was fourteen years old I went to New York with my family over christmas, spent one week in the city and fell in love. I fell in love with the skyscrapers, the streets, the atmosphere and the people. My fifteen-year old self promised that one day I would come back. So I started planning, on how I would graduate, save money and leave as soon as I could, rent a cheap room somewhere in the suburbs and stay for the three months the american tourist-visa would allow and just be in the city. I was planning to leave with one of my best friends and we were so sure that it would work, that we could do it just if we wanted it enough. It was a big dream, but I have always been good at dreaming.
The years went by and the dream faded a bit. It was always there, in the back of my head, still is. But I have not been back to New York yet. Instead I graduated, saved up some money and moved to Melbourne. I grabbed a best friend, jumped on a plane and ended up in Melbourne with no expectations. But only after a couple of days, I was sure. Sure that Melbourne was my new New York.
First time around I stayed for four months. Three hostels, two houses, two jobs and endless adventures. In the true Melbourne spirit there was always something to do and always somewhere to go. It became the place where I first moved away from Sweden, my first real own home. It became my city, a place where I felt like I belonged. And even after I left, even after all of my friends in Melbourne left, I still felt like I had my base here.
I was gone in different parts of Australia for six months. Travelled around, worked and made new friends and new memories. But I always knew that I wanted to go back. I did not feel done with Melbourne - I was not finished. So I did. I came back, spent two months moving around four different suburbs and soaked up everything I love about the city as much as I could. The coffees, the nightlife, the festivals, the atmosphere. And even now, when the life I had here a year ago is gone, I am more certain than ever that this city always will hold a specific place in my heart.
I am currently sitting at the airport about to leave. I remember how almost a year ago at this time, Jenni and I arrived to this very airport. It was our first stop in Australia, straight from a hectic month in South-east Asia. How we, two small town girls felt smaller than ever surrounded by high buildings and thousands of people. To leave a town where you were lucky if the bars were open once a week, and arrive to a city where you without trouble could find a party every day of the week was overwhelming. But I also remember how I almost at once felt how everything fell to place. Same as when I arrived back to the city after being away for six months, and then again after spending my holidays in India. All I needed was to see the skyline from the airport shuttle to start smiling, to feel like I was coming home.
Melbourne became my base. A city I could call my own. I know my way here, I feel like I belong. This time I am leaving without knowing when I will be back, I am not as sure anymore. Leaving feels bittersweet, because even though it might be years until I breathe the Melbourne-air again, I am so grateful for the time I have gotten to spend here. It has been everything I could ever wish for, everything I ever dreamt it would be. I am leaving without any regrets, there is nothing I would change. And I am certain that if I ever do come back, how many years that may go by, it will still feel like coming home.