LEX CANIS THE Lee Berlin Kyle Killam Andrea Brown
I Came From a Land Down Under Lessons From Melbourne, Australia
If you’d asked me before I left, I’d tell you I was not looking forward to my vacation. My wife, Estelle, and I try to get away for two weeks every year to decompress, unwind, and recharge. But when Estelle got it into her head that we should attend the Australian Open, I was less than enthused. As an avid tennis fan, I was more than onboard with the idea of going to another Open — we’ve been to the U.S. and French Opens in the past — It was the “Australian” part that was giving me trepidation. Spending 14-plus hours in a pressurized tube 30,000 feet in the air is not my idea of decompressing, unwinding, or recharging. But Estelle batted her eyelashes at me, and before I knew it, I was shuffling through the TSA line at Tulsa International. The things you do for love, right? Well, having now made that ridiculous flight across the Pacific both ways, I can safely say the pains of air travel were more than worth it. My wife is going to be dishing out a heaping pile of “I told you so” for years to come because it was objectively the best vacation either of us has ever been on. It wasn’t because we got to see an amazing tournament, and it wasn’t because we stayed in the same hotel as the tennis stars we’ve been idolizing for years. It wasn’t even because Nadal brushed past my shoulder in the lobby (although, I am never washing that shoulder again). No, it wasn’t the Open that made the trip incredible; it was Australia. Coming from rural Montana and having settled down in Oklahoma, I was already convinced that I’d met the nicest people on
this earth. There’s something about the open spaces you find in both the mountainous West and the heartland that makes people far more kind, gregarious, and humble than they are elsewhere. Living on both coasts during my time in the army and traveling to Asia and Europe in years past was more than enough to show me that. But defying all expectation, the land down under proved to be the happiest, most laid-back place I’d ever set foot in.
nature to these folks. Everyone we met, and I mean everyone , was quick to smile, personable, and willing to help at the drop of a hat. By day three, I was convinced there was something in the water. I want to emphasize again that I come from Polson, Montana: a town where practically everyone knows your name. But in this city of 4,000,000 people on the opposite end of the earth, I felt right at home. Normally I feel uneasy walking around in big cities, especially at night. But on the clean streets of Australia’s second largest city, I was utterly at ease. It was the most relaxing vacation I have ever been on. The flight home gave me plenty of time to reflect on my two weeks in the Southern Hemisphere. While the matches were exciting and the scenery was beautiful, my biggest takeaway is how at home the experience made me feel. It was a relief coming back to Tulsa, where laid-back kindness is the order of the day. I can’t imagine living in New York and being exposed to a kind city like Melbourne, only to return to that rat race two weeks later. It just goes to show that no matter where you are in the world, you can’t put a price on human decency. Sometimes you have to go halfway across the globe just to recognize the great things you already have at home.
Like many of our readers, the extent of my knowledge of Australia prior to this trip began and ended with “Crocodile Dundee.” But after being in Melbourne for only a few hours, I was already beginning to get the sense that kindness was somehow second
Here’s to you, Tulsa, –Lee Berlin
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