By Kazuya Muto
My friend Sandy picked me up to take me to the airport.
Jack and Xuan came as well. I had mixed feelings about this. On the one hand, I was really happy they wanted to see me off. On the other hand, I was afraid I wouldn't be able to cope. It would just be too sad.
In the car, none of us said very much. Occasionally someone would try to get the conversation going, but it would never continue for very long, and we would all fall back into silence again. I spent most of the trip looking out the window, occasionally glancing at the others' faces.
We arrived at the airport. I'm going to count this as one of the worst moments of my time in Sydney. I felt ill and on edge. I couldn't think straight, my mind was a blur, my movements seemed slow and heavy like in a bad dream, my hands were sweating. I barely remember checking in.
What I most wanted to do, what every part of me was screaming for me to do, was to charge out of the airport and make a beeline to Chinatown in downtown Sydney, where I'd then eat and drink and laugh with all my friends in one of our favorite restaurants. But that was hardly possible.
The atmosphere between us changed, though, once we were standing in front of the departure gate. We were talking now, chatting cheerfully about what we'd done together, reminiscing. Most of the things we talked about would have seemed trivial to others but for us these memories were precious.
Soon it was time to say good-bye.
"I gotta go now," I said.
"Thanks for coming all this way to see me off," I said.
"Catch you later, mate," they said with big smiles.
When I heard them say this, I felt something explode inside me. I quickly turned away and started walking toward the gate. I just kept on walking. I didn't turn around. I didn't want them to see me cry.
But then I heard a shout:
It was Xuan. The words were filled with such warmth that I couldn't stop the tears running down my face. I didn't reply. I just raised my hand in thanks, and rushed through the gate. Once through, I ran to the bathroom, locked myself in a cubicle and cried.
About 30 minutes later, I'd washed my face and made up my mind: Everything I'd experienced in Australia was precious, and I would always treasure those experiences and keep them close to my heart. But now I had to look ahead. A new phase of my life was starting in Japan, and I had to focus on that.
But it was tough staying so positive. Once on the plane, the sadness snuck in again. I knew I was going to miss Sydney: the streets, the parks, the beaches, the harbor, the cafes, the restaurants, my friends ...
Around me I heard a lot of people laughing and chatting cheerfully in Japanese about their trip to Sydney. I couldn't help sighing. It takes nine hours to get from Sydney to Tokyo. I didn't sleep a wink. Nine hours were too short to sort out all my memories.
Shukan ST: Feb. 2, 2007
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