Ting Tang won the High School Category of the 2019 Melbourne Writers Festival's storytelling competition 'Love & Melbourne' .

Alone but not lonely

By Ting Tang (China)

watermelon pieces

‘Do you guys want to go on the boat with us this weekend?’ Ant, my homestay mum, asked enthusiastically.

‘Can we? Would that be convenient for you?’ I asked cautiously. I didn’t know whether it would be appropriate or not that two boarding students go and join a family event like this.

‘No problem at all! We really want you to come and have fun if you have time’ Ant said with a big, encouraging smile.

We nodded shyly. Then Ant told us what to take and assured us that everything would be great.

Next morning when we got on the boat, Ant took a container out, which was full of cut-up fruit she had prepared that morning – watermelons, rockmelons and grapes. She left them at the rear of the boat and told us to eat whenever we wanted.

As Sam was driving the boat, Ant talked with us, introducing the landmarks here and telling stories of their previous boat tours.Later that day, we stopped our boat near Dromana beach to swim, snorkel and sunbath. We took out the bouncy ball we had brought and Sam and Ant joined us. Sam demonstrated one excellent throw with a triumphant smile and then taught us how to exert forces to let the ball bounce. We divided into two groups and threw the ball towards each other. We cheered each other and laughed at each other.

This reminded me of my childhood. I used to play Frisbee with my parents on the lawn when I was little. I was always amused by my mum’s funny movements when she tried her best to get the Frisbee but fell over. I always marvelled at my father’s proficiency at throwing that small green Frisbee. It was one of my most precious feelings and memories and on that day they reappeared again. I felt like I went back to the past, to those carefree days with my family, to just enjoy this wonderful moment. Truly, my homestay parents had given me the feeling of family since they treated me as a part of their family.

After we all got tired from playing with the bouncy ball, we went back to the boat to have a rest. We took out the food container from the insulated bag. The cut-up fruit inside still maintained a hint of coolness from the fridge. Fresh fruit on a hot day made me feel alive again from the exhaustion. Ant was so considerate to us that she prepared everything well, from every detail of daily life. This really brought me into thinking of my mum.

As I was gazing at the sea level far away, in a daze, I decided that I sincerely love the city of Melbourne.People in Melbourne, especially my homestay, gave me the feeling of home. These caring people made me, an international student who was here alone, not lonely anymore.

That is why I love Melbourne.