Michael's diary - Love across continents

June 13, 2024

After my decision, I finally arrived at the airport. At that moment, I felt a lot of anxiety at the thought of me crossing the border. It really was time to pass the point of no return.

I can’t even begin to tell you how many times I checked to see if I had the right documents and ID. However, there was something else that I was feeling anxious about. Four months prior, I had fallen in love with a French backpacker from Paris. Due to privacy, we’ll call her ‘Frenchie’. We had spent four months together, but at some point, she had to travel to other parts of Australia. We bid each other farewell until she contacted me shortly after, saying that she wanted to see me again in Sydney. Once I arrived, we shared an experience that I can only describe as Before Sunset-esque. We sat on the beach, enjoyed a bottle of wine, and watched the sun set, vowing to see each other again soon.

And so, now was my time to travel through the world to keep the promise we had made. My first destination was Hanoi, Vietnam. Once I arrived, the city of Hanoi introduced itself in a way that I can only describe as complete culture shock: the humidity hit as much as the constant loud sounds, insane traffic, and street vendors littering the sidewalks, spilling out onto the streets. A single thought ran through my head: “What is this place?”

I was new to the backpacking scene and as such, I had no idea what to do and how to act. There was always a question that people would ask that I was unsure how to answer: “So, you’re Australian?” I never knew how to answer, since I never felt like an Australian but I also can’t exactly call myself Italian. So, at the time, I looked toward my eventual arrival in Italy; maybe then I would understand how to answer the question better.

Two weeks later, I found myself in Istanbul, Turkey. I was ready to embrace a new adventure in a culturally diverse yet ideologically divided city. In the meantime, Frenchie and I found ourselves becoming closer. 

And then, I finally arrived in Europe. My first destinations were Berlin and Amsterdam. This was the first time that I slowed down… I was at my limit from exploring different cultures and cuisines. I had fallen really ill for my entire stay and decided to move on to Amsterdam when I felt better. A week raced by; I was unsure whether it was because Frenchie was awaiting me in France or if it was because of the fever.

Michael during his trip from Australia to Italy

The moment we had been looking forward to for six months had finally arrived. I arrived at an Airbnb in Paris to find Frenchie waiting for me. Our initial greeting was really strange; it felt as if no time at all had passed since we last saw each other. A romantic few days ensued until at some point we decided that it would be best to end things. We thought it would be impossible to work as we’re from different sides of the world, and it would be best to end things sooner rather than let it get too complicated.

We bid each other a heartfelt farewell; however, as I was returning to the hostel, I realized that I had forgotten to give her the earring she had left behind. I had texted her about the earrings in question, but she had said for me to keep it. And so I did—a final memento of our time together that I will cherish for as long as I can.

Hopeless romanticism aside, it was time to leave France and head to Italy.

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