This time next week I will be all packed and ready to head back home for three weeks. I am now counting down the sleeps and I am so excited. At the same time though, I don't mind admitting that I'm a little panicked. I know that my accent has changed, if only just a little (Jems can try and break my 'cell phone and sweater' habit) but I also feel sure that, in general, I'm not the same person I was when I left.
As far as I'm concerned, I've become a better person - someone with interesting stories, fun experiences to draw from, and I'm certainly a much more self-assured person than when I left home. But in the back of my mind there's the thought that this new Gab will be a bit of a culture shock to my friends and family back home. What if I've morphed into a brash American without fully realising it? Am I confusing my new-found sense of self-assurance with simply being up myself?
I guess the only way to test myself has been to surround myself with Aussies - and I've done that for the past two nights straight. Admittedly these have been Chicago-based Aussies, but they will nevertheless call things as they see them (as Aussies are wont to do just about anywhere).
Last night was the Christmas party for the Chicago chapter of Advance (photos are already available online and while I'm in some of them, I am not responsible for the conduct that was captured in any of them - I was off the clock). Tonight I went to a client dinner for our Trade Commission, none of which was photographically documented. I had a wonderful time at each event, and made many Aussies jealous that I was leaving our sub-zero temperatures behind for much sunnier shores. It's quite easy when surrounded by Australians to lapse into the stereotype that we've all shunned for so many years; you know, that back-slapping, loud-laughing, 'she'll be right mate' way of relating to one another. It's hideous and we'd never do it at home, I'm sure. We all become like lads at the B&S ball or something. Perhaps it's a coping mechanism, I don't know.
All I do know is, I'm so looking forward to being back home, and I think I'm all set to settle back in to life in Adelaide, with my favourite people. And of course, the Burnside Primary School Beginners Brass Band to serenade me at Adelaide Airport upon my dishevelled arrival next Sunday arvo. Thanks to Joshua for organising that!