I got off the terminal and entered gate 37B. I was officially in Australia, away from home and ready to spend a full week with my best friends Ashley, Sammy, and Ingela. All sun, no shade, tanning by the ocean, no parents. I’ve been waiting for this trip for three years!
“Ash, Sammy, Ing, you guys are so slow. Hurry up I wanna hit the beach!” I exclaimed.
“Geeze Harper chill out we're here for a whole week we have plenty of time for the beach” Ingela said. I hauled my carry on over my shoulder, and pulled my sunglasses down, ready to be hit in the face with the bright Australian sun.
Walking out of the airport and onto the sidewalk I was mesmerized by beautiful Brisbane, Australia. The sky was a clear blue, not a single cloud in sight, and the air was warm but not humid. If Brisbane was this beautiful, and all I’ve seen is the strip of street in front of the airport, I can’t imagine what the beaches and towns look like. The pictures online certainly did not do it justice. I can’t believe I'm actually here. I’ve been waiting for this trip for three years.
“Wow it’s so beautiful” Ashley said.
“Guys I can’t believe we're here it’s going to be the best fall break ever I bet the guys are so hot!” exclaimed Sammy with excitement.
“This trip isn’t about guys, Sam, it’s about having an amazing time together,” I said, while trying to hail a taxi. Getting into the taxi we directed the driver to our hotel.
After a full day at the beach we were ready to explore the town. Sammy, Ashley, Ingela and I were rushing down the street to get to the brightly lit restaurant overlooking the harbor. We’d been dying to go to Jellyfish ever since we found out about it on the travel websites they are said to have the best seafood in all of Brisbane. Finally 30 minutes later we were seated outside on the wraparound porch watching the late night boats sail down the harbor, the cool breeze from the ocean along with the warm air made for the perfect night. The crowd inside the restaurant was bustling, Fun Fun Fun by the Beach Boys was blasting from the speakers overhead much louder inside than out. [Part of the reason why we chose to sit outside that along with the beautiful view.] Sammy was leaning over the railing trying her absolute best to capture the pure beauty with her Iphone 7 camera.
“Sammy you’ve been trying to get a picture for 20 minutes can you sit down the food is going to be here soon,” Ashley said with an annoyed tone. Of course the second she said that the waiter brought over the tray of food. I ordered the blue crab with a side of fries, Sammy, and Ingela both got lobster rolls, and Ashley got the fried clams.
This may be the highlight of my day I love trying new foods from new places when I first moved to Germany I was so excited to try all the new foods and spent a good two weeks traveling around eating all the food in sight. when coming to Brisbane the thing I was most excited for was trying the food.
The food as expected was amazing the Blue Crab was better than anything I have ever tasted in my entire life. The girls and I had such an amazing time and it was only day one of the trip. We had only unpacked and had dinner, yet I was still wondering how anything could top this. Walking out of the restaurant behind Sammy, Ingela, and Ashley I halted in the door startled by a sudden smash coming from within the main dining room, turning back I saw embarrassed boy surrounded by shattered glass. A fuming man ran from what I assumed was the kitchen, shouting,
“What in the world just happened?” the boy who I could now see clearly tried to explain himself.
“Dad I don’t know what happened, I think I tripped and then lost my grip and they fell on the floor I’m so so sorry.” The angry man whose face was red and his eyebrows raised calmed at his son's explanation.
“Reid you have to be more careful. I’m grateful for your help but I can’t have you here if you continue to break things this is the third time in the past two weeks. You need to be more careful.” Reid bowed his head and I could see that his cheeks were bright red from what I assumed was a mix of embarrassment from dropping the plates and having his father scold him in front of a packed restaurant. Nodding his head Reid said something to his dad that I couldn’t quite make out and then brushed past me in a hurry to leave.
“Harper is everything okay? We turned around and you weren’t their,” Ingela said with concern.
“Fine Ing, I heard a smash and I wanted to know what happened. That poor guy dropped a bunch of plates got in trouble with his dad and bolted out, poor thing.” Ingela followed my gaze to where he ran off. A part of me felt tempted to follow him to make sure he was okay, something about him just tempted me to find him. Walking through the doorway and down the path we met the girls on the sidewalk that lead to the beach and shops. Brisbane truly was beautiful the lights strung along the sidewalk gave an amber glow lanterns and flower boxes were strategically placed every ten feet or so giving the area a quaint feeling.
“Anyone up for a little stroll through the shops? Maybe do some late night shopping? everything still looks open” Ashley said.
“Of course you want to shop (Ash) what else would we expect?” I said with a giggle as we went to enter Holly’s boutique I glanced over to the bench that sat overlooking the harbor and there sitting was Reid.
“Hey guys go on in I’ll meet up with you in a minute there's something by the beach I want to check out.” Walking up to the bench, I stopped next to him.
“Hi” I said shyly having, no idea in how to really approach him. All I knew was I felt bad that he was sad I just wanted to make him feel better. Looking up Reid turned to me clearly surprised and confused as to why I was talking to him.
“I saw what happened earlier in the restaurant, and I just Uh... wanted to make sure that you were okay ?
Taking a second to get over the shock of me a girl who he’s never met before asking if he's okay Reid then responded.
“Um ya I’m okay, I mean it was my fault I dropped the plates for the third time I should mention he had a right to yell at me, thanks for asking. Can I ask who you are ?”
“Yes! I’m Harper” I said while sticking my hand out for Reid to shake.
“Hi Harper, I’m Reid it’s nice to meet you. Wanna sit down ?” I tentatively sat on the bench not expecting me asking if he was okay to be anything more than that looking over at Reid I noticed he was about 5 inches taller than me sitting down which would make his hight 5 ft 11 inch. He had light brown hair that flopped in front of his eyes which from what I could see were a bright green almost emerald.
“Listen thank you for checking on me it means a lot my dad he isn't always like that actually he rarely yells he just got frustrated I haven't been doing the best with my training. The restaurant has been my dad’s pride and joy since before I was born; honestly sometimes I think he's more proud of it than he is of me.”
“Reid I’m sure that's not true I know we just met and this might come off weird as seeing that we've only had one conversation, but you seem like a great guy someone your dad would be really proud of.” Honestly I knew exactly where he was coming from. My entire life I've always felt like I've been competing with My Siblings for my parents pride. I’m always second best, they never say it but I always think they feel it which is part of the reason why I wanted to come on this trip. I wanted to show my parents I could go away from the nest and do something amazing something my siblings haven't done .
“I've always felt second best. I’m the middle child of 5 kids and my older brother is top of his class at University of Berlin, and my younger twin siblings excel at all sports they put their minds to. I’m just quiet shy Harper who reads way too much and spends more time with animals than humans.I just wanted to prove to them and my siblings that I can be fun, adventurous Harper by going to Australia.” For some reason I felt vulnerable around him like I could spill my secrets and he would keep them safe. Reid looked at me with sympathy and a silent understanding passed through us. We understood each other. We were both insecure and trying to prove ourselves.
“ I have a feeling that you're going to prove to your dad just how worthy you are of his pride and I'm going to help you.”
The next morning around 11:30 I met Reid at the restaurant it was time to start his training. I found Reid sitting on the deck by the harbor dressed in his work uniform, and watching the ships bring in the fresh seafood from their morning fishing excursions.
“Hey Reid, ready to start your training?”
“You bet Harper, I seriously can’t thank you enough for this” smiling I turned and picked up the stack of plates today we were working on balance which seems to be Reid’s biggest problem. I was determined to help him for some reason I saw something in him from the start. Passing them off to Reid 5 at a time he walked in a straight line, weaved throughout the tables and lifted them as if he was placing them on a shelf. The restaurant itself wasn't open yet and Reid didn’t want his dad to know what we were doing so he hid a stack of plates outside last night and day one of training was commencing on the back deck. Training lasted for another hour before we agreed to end for the day.
“You’ve made amazing progress did you see how smoothly you weaved through those tables, with 15 plates too!” I couldn’t help but be overly enthusiastic even if I hadn’t had my first cup of coffee for the day, I was just so proud of him. Blushing Reid looked down running his fingers through his hair something I’ve noticed he does a lot when he gets compliments.
“Thanks Harper I owe it all to you, without your help I could never have managed this.”
“So what do you say we go get some coffee I’m an addict and I haven't had a single cup yet!” “You can show me the local coffee houses it’s kind of a tradition when I go anywhere new I try the local coffee shops. I need a 12 step program is what Ashley says but I don’t see a problem with my love of coffee.” Great and now I’m ranting I’m not sure why I felt the need to share my whole life story with Reid. All my habits and passions being around him and seeing that he genuinely is interested is a new thing for me. No one ever really cares except the girls that is but they know everything there is to know about me and are there for all the new things I find about myself.
“Ya I would love to get some coffee I know the best place, you’ll love it.” Holding out his hand for me to grab Reid started down the steps.
“We can walk there from here it’s not far only several blocks”
After we got our coffees Reid and I walked around the shops. Sipping on my iced long black with a dash of almond milk I once again admired Brisbane. I could easily spend the rest of my life here and be happy as a clam. Reid and I spent the remainder of the day walking around Brisbane, and shopping talking about anything and everything. Stopping at 4 different coffee shops along the way, what can I say I’m an addict. Looking at my watch I realized it was already 8:00 the girls and I are supposed to meet for dinner at 9. “I’m having such a great time but I should go I told the girls that we would go to dinner at 9 they're probably getting ready as we speak”
“Okay, no problem let’s get you back.” Reid tried to be enthusiastic but he failed to be honest I didn’t want to go either I love my girls but I’m having such an amazing time with Reid I don’t want it to end. We have such a great connection after our talk I realized that we're two people who know exactly how the other person feels.
“Harper I had an amazing day. Thank you again for everything, I’m finally getting the hang of this waiting thing and hanging out with you has been great. I was wondering If you wanted to hang out again tomorrow? I could take you and your friends around?” He was blushing as he said this and I found it to be the cutest thing. “I would love that, I’m sure they would too!” What I didn’t tell him was that we already had plans to go exploring but he’s a local he can take us to all the hole in the wall little places that a tour guide would surely miss.
The next day the girls and I were out of the hotel by 10 am the earliest ever. It didn’t take much for me to convince them to drop our plans. Partially because they agreed with me that Reid would be a better guide than a tour group and the other part was they could tell how much I liked him. Meeting Reid by the docks we spent an entire day adventuring snorkeling off the Gold Coast in a little spot that had little to no people, eating at the cutest seafood cafe where they caught your fish fresh. My favorite part of the day was the animal sanctuary, I spent a lot of time telling Reid about my love of animals and my dreams to be a vet and he found the most magical place. The animals had free range and I was in heaven, kangaroo, after kangaroo hopped up to me prairie dogs ran freely I never wanted to leave.
“Reid thank you ! No one has ever done anything like this for me before. Hell no one's paid enough attention to even remember my love of animals, except the girls that is. This, today it means the world to me coming to Brisbane was supposed to be a chance to prove to everyone that I was good enough and I could have amazing experiences and be adventurous. I owe that to you” Wrapping my arms around him I gripped him tight holding back tears I was so thankful for this boy. Shyly putting his arms around my waist he gripped me just as tight over his shoulder I could see the girls. Ashley and Ingela smirking while Sammy gave me a thumbs up throwing my head back I was overcome with hysterical laughter those girls gosh do I love them.
Later on that night after leaving Reid the girls and I went to sit by the beach. Ashley threw her arm around my shoulder and I leaned into her.
“You know Harp, Reid is a really great guy I had such a good time today and I know the girls did too. What he did for you, taking you to the sanctuary that was so amazing. What you're doing for him, helping him with his insecurities, and his clumsiness. You are an amazing person Harper Connelly, a sweet caring soul.” I couldn’t help but get teary eyed what Ashley just said to me meant the world.
“He’s really special to me Ash I know we just met but I feel alive with him, safe. Reid truly understands how I feel and helping him with his issues and him showing me around it’s really helping with my insecurities.” Smiling Ashley kissed the top of my head and got up to go join Ingela, and Sammy in the water. Looking up at the stars I reflected on the last couple of days and my time with Reid tomorrow was our last day in Brisbane and I wasn’t ready to leave.
Today was our last full day and we were going to downtown Brisbane to go to the farmers markets, try all the local foods, and then end the night with a fire on the beach. Ingela,Sammy, Ashley, and I met up with Reid at the restaurant when we got there he was sitting on the hood of his cherry red jeep dressed for a day at the beach.
“Hey Reid you ready for an amazing day?” I asked watching his face light up with excitement. It suddenly hit me that today was my last day, and I fell in love with Brisbane Reid and I became fast friends and it would be hard to leave both behind. Reid not only showed me and my best friends around Australia, and gave me the time of my life, but by helping him I helped myself. Watching him gain confidence and work to make his dad proud gave me the motivation I need to do something for myself and not worry about what my siblings do or what my parents expect of me. It’s time to do what's right for me.
Twenty Two hours later we were off the plane and back in Frankfurt stretching. I reached into my bag and pulled out my phone. There on my screen was a singular text that stood out from all the other notifications.
Reid: I’m not ready for goodbye.