‘Welcome home!’ Lisa Clifford, an author friend in Florence, wrapped her arms around me and hugged me tight.
A warm glow filled my heart. I’ve only been to Florence five times, but the welcome from one of my writer friends made me feel like I belonged. Penny, a friend I’d seen in London a couple of weeks before, kissed me on both cheeks.
Heidi, a friend from Perth, was with me on her first visit to Florence and was embraced with the same enthusiasm. It felt good to be amongst friends.
This year, I’ve travelled through eleven countries, visited thirty-three cities, hiked over nineteen thousand feet up a mountain, been on over thirty flights, about twenty train trips, countless London Underground rides, and taken Uber, taxi, and ferry trips.
I caught up with friends from around the world and saw so many beautiful places–my heart, and mind, are full.
I’ve crossed the world, and datelines, so many times I’m not sure what day it is, or what continent I’m on.
I’ve been on a quest to finish a novel and have written on planes, trains, and in cafes. Rendezvousing with my husband at various points during his epic motorcycle adventure around the world.
In August, I finished the first draft of a novel I first conceived in 2010 in Tuscany. I’ve been back several years in a row on a mission to finish it where it began. I took the completed first draft to a retreat in Tuscany last month and celebrated with friends who’ve shared the journey with me.
Travelling for more than thirty weeks in a year takes a toll. It’s exciting and inspiring and exhausting all at the same time.
It's going to take a long time to reflect and consider what has actually happened this year–and it's not over.
Now, I’m home for a while and contemplating how much I love being here and what a privilege it is to live in Australia.
When you’re away from family, you miss home, but having a family of writers around the world has given me so much comfort on my travels this year–this includes my ‘home team’ of fellow writers who encouraged me from home.
It’s tempting to think that home is a place, but home is where I find friendship, love, and belonging. Nowhere else do I find it more so than in my own home, with my own family, but, my writer family has also been with me.
My writing community encourage, mentor, champion, share, and function like sisters and brothers.
Next week, I head to the Omega Writers Conference and it’ll feel like home. I’ll meet up with people I’ve known now for over seven years and one of my home team of writers will join me for the first time.
I’m blessed with 'home away from home' friends.
Photo Credit: Jilly Bennett Photography