I tell her that I am afraid, that I feel I've lost my confidence, that the ease and joy and fun I felt in Asia has slipped through my fingers and I've been left here with the fear of the rushing people and crowded buses and that I just want all the magic back.
I go to the bar for one of my first nights out in Australia and not one man notices me, not one man strikes up conversation, not one gives me the attention I had gotten used to in Thailand or Laos or Cambodia.
I slowly pull things out of my enormous suitcase, setting the night cream on the bedside table and arranging my small pile of clothes on the shelf in the closet and deciding where I should keep things like my one book and my curling iron and my vitamins. I slowly transform from solo female backpacker to resident of Sydney.
I go to sleep in a room by myself for the first time since April 1st, privacy and quiet and space enveloping me. No bunk mates, no bed mates, no people coming in and out, no strange sounds, no dirty bathroom. I sleep alone in a double bed in my own bedroom and even though I have the whole thing, I only occupy half.
I do things like write in my journal again, want time to myself, pay attention to whether I'm eating healthy or not, stay on top of emails, have time for things like curling my hair.
She tells me, "You have lived through the biggest expansion you've ever had in your life these last three months. It's only natural to contract now. Like breathing."
I trust that she is right and feel myself expanding inside of my contraction. I trust that it is okay to withdraw a bit after so much upheaval and growth and experience. I trust that I won't lose anything I've had because I made it all happen, because it lives within me, because there's no way I can fall back 19 steps after taking 20.
Later that day I go to a coffee shop I've never been to before. I wait in line and make a quick decision at the counter. I decide to try a tea blend of lemongrass and thyme and peppermint, and it isn't until the barista calls out its name as she places it on the bar that I realize what blend I've ordered: "Inhale/exhale."
Yes, yes, yes.