I had my first bout of allergies in my life when I came to Melbourne last December. In the last 27 years of my life, I’d never sneezed or wheezed or coughed no matter where I was due to pollen or flowers or grass. That was just a misfortune that my parents and Ed always had to grapple with that I did not. When they were sneezing and blowing their noses and battling watery blearly eyes, I was clear-eyed and clear-nosed (if that’s a word). So when I got here and immediately felt cold symptoms – runny and stuffy nose, coughing, phlegm – I just thought it was a cold and treated it as such.
So now, I am back in Melbourne for Christmas, and after spending a nice few hours outside for lunch in Chris’s friends’ backyard, I am a bit stuffy and runny, taking Telfast to soothe my little nose. My mom, being the mom she always is, warned me over the phone yesterday to bring a sweater or jacket everywhere I go, “because you don’t want to get sick again like you did last year!” I responded that it wasn’t a cold and that it was actually allergies. She had me on speaker phone, so in the background, my dad heard this and mumbles, “It’s not allergies. She’s never had allergies before!”
Yes, I’ve never had allergies before in San Francisco or Boston or New York or virtually any other place I’ve traveled to before. But Melbourne is a different place in a different hemisphere in a different part of the world. I’d never been here before and discovered something new about myself. And maybe if my dad decided to make the trip out here and were exposed to the pollen of the Australian northerly winds, he wouldn’t be saying that his little daughter having allergies would be an impossibility.
I guess that’s what happens. The more you travel, the more you learn about the world – and yourself. And when you don’t, in many ways, you are closed off from that world and the inner parts of yourself.