It was just insane for my six-year-old brain to even fathom that an airplane could have multiple stories. Despite this trip being a big one for little me, my parents always prioritized traveling as part of our cultural education. The point is, there were two, three stories on this Quantas aircraft if you count where all the pieces of luggage slept for the night. I can still remember that in the middle of the plane there stretched five seats. I remember this detail, mainly, because it was just the amount of people in our family, and so we snuggled in for the overnight haul on Christmas Day. Finally, many card games and short naps later, we landed in Melbourne. After feeling the hot air rush between the airport door and the wobbly ramp, we took off our winter sweaters and were welcomed by the sun, silly accents, and more Asians I had ever seen in my life.
In Melbourne, I remember the gardens, and in Adelaide, I remember the wind storm. In Sydney, I remember the Opera House and Finding Nemo, and in Kangaroo Island I remember, naturally, the kangaroos.
In Cairns, however, my favorite city in Austrailia, I remember the vast, endless ocean. I remember the Great Barrier Reef. I am sure that if I go back now it will all seem much smaller than I remember. Not just because of the proportion of my body to the size of the reef, but also because a lot of what I saw once is dead. The color, stripped, and the fish, gone. I would probably be less likely to see Sea Turtles and little clown fish swimming around gracefully. So when I think of my ecological actions, I always think back to the ocean in Cairns. However egocentric it may be to think that my plastic water bottle will find it’s way all the way to the southern hemisphere, the picturesque Cairns pops into mind when the plastic bottle crisps under my hands as I open it… With one action, I risk playing a part in the destruction of one of my most beautiful childhood memories. The Great Barrier Reef was the first reef I ever snorkeled and someday, I would love for my children to be amazed at the two-story aircraft, and the endless and miraculous color that lives just beneath the surface.