published Sunday, May 10th, 2009

Galbraith: Looking back to my trip abroad


by Laura Galbraith

The surprise and sadness that I felt seemed to have come out of nowhere.

A few nights ago, I was at my friend Kevin’s house, hoping that he could teach me some tricks on my digital camera. The camera had been a gift from my parents when I graduated college last May. Even though I had had it for a year, I still only took pictures using the “auto” setting.

My parents gave it to me before I went on my six-week magazine internship in Sydney, Australia. Having never been overseas by myself, I was going to use the camera to document every important moment so that I could share things with my friends and family back home.

I had been meaning to show Kevin the pictures of my trip for months now, but the shameful truth was that I had kind of forgotten everything about my visit Down Under.

Don’t get me wrong, I had an amazing time, and I met some incredible people; but toward the end of my stay, I was eager to get back to the familiar faces I left in the United States.

Time got away from me when I returned, and as I got busy with a new, full-time internship and a new way of life, I forgot about all the good times I had with those six girls who became my roommates and my traveling buddies.

All seven of us were around the same age, and we came from all over the country — Michigan, Missouri, Illinois, New York, Massachusetts, Alabama, and, of course, Tennessee.

Amazingly, in spite of the obvious estrogen overload, we got along well. Naturally, some of us had closer bonds than others, but overall it was a success. I shared some terrific times with each of those girls, whose personalities and backgrounds were as diverse and fascinating as the country before us.

However, months passed, and I more or less forgot about them ... that is until I showed Kevin the pictures.

So as not to bore him, I was just going to show him a few highlights, like the Sydney bridge or me petting a kangaroo (right before it bit me, but that’s another story). When I came across some of the pictures I took of the girls, however, I felt an unsettling change.

I had been joking around just minutes earlier, but suddenly a lump formed in my throat, and tears starting running down my face. I couldn’t really put it into words at the time why I was reacting in such a way.

Poor Kevin. A guy has to freak out just a little bit when a girl randomly cries like that, but I think in some ways he understood.

I missed them, and I missed my work and my colleagues in Australia. Even with the almighty powers of Facebook, we’ve lost touch over the months. We all have new lives and priorities now, and our chance meeting nearly a year ago will probably be the last time I see any of them in my life.

One of the greatest things about your 20s is that you’re constantly meeting new people. And perhaps more so than any age, your 20s give you a chance to explore and do something new, like travel by yourself or take on some challenge you never could’ve done in your teens.

However, the downside of all that excitement is that you often lose touch with people too. Maintaining long-distance relationships is difficult, and with groups of people, at least one gets lost in the mix.

Random crying spells aside, however, I wouldn’t trade those moments or those people for anything. Even though they are no longer in my life, they’ll be in my thoughts and visually implanted in my camera forever.

E-mail Laura Galbraith at lgalbraith@timesfreepress.com.

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