The beauty of the Blue Mountains humbles me. Ona opened her door to me for the night, knowing I’d freeze in my van. I woke up under multitudes of blankets and memories of winter mornings battling to get out of bed flooded through me. This felt different though, there was light coming in around the edge of the windows and I was keen to discover the day. I walked with Ona and her crazy pup Java as views of the mountains opened up before us. We went for coffee and I laughed to myself that Ona knew everyone we passed and sat next to in the café. The small town artist vibes warmed me as much as the coffee buzzing in my belly. The night before we had chatted around life but I came to quickly realise that I trusted Ona, though we’d only met a few times before. We were indeed very similar and it was easy to talk to her about challenging things. She’s a sensitive soul and she understood when I had to look down and inspect the table because tears were welling in my eyes. She shared with me her trust in the bigger picture and her ability to create a life for herself with depth and love and courage. I was sad to say goodbye to her wonderful home and the warmth I felt in her presence.
I realised today that this trip is equally about spending time with genuine souls as it is spending time with only myself. Somehow putting this trip out into the world has helped my feet find kindred spirits and new friends.
Jackielyn brings her kids and friend Em to spend the afternoon with me exploring Australia’s Central Coast. Our connection feels easy and we wander the coast line chatting.
I let my photography expectations drop away and delight in spending time talking and just being. The camera hangs from my hand but it’s just an extension of what I see rather than a tool being used for a desired outcome. It’s important for me to let go of my own expectations as a creative. Funnily enough the images I make resonate with me more deeply than ever.
When I get back on the road to climb into the Blue Mountains I know that this day will be remembered forever.
The sun is tinkering around the branches and filtering in my window. Iron and Wine are singing the most gentle and beautiful lyrics. I look from the back window of the van filled with dappled light to the open side door framing the forest. My concentration is short today and I find myself in daydreams more often than not.
The time I spent in Byron is fading from my memory fast. I don’t think I was ever there for more than 3 or 4 weeks in a row. What a shame such a beautiful place was marred by such loneliness of heart. What a shame and a joy that I will always see it as a foundational time in losing and finding myself. I knew that finding myself there would inevitably lead to me leaving.
I sit by the open camp fire, the flames lick and leap and light up my mind. I smile, I can’t help it. This life, this one life, I am happy and warm and doing brave things. I wished for my nephews and niece earlier. I wished for my sisters grin and my brothers calm. I wondered how only children must feel when they get to my age, I rely on them so much and I think our connection is stronger than most families. My brother worked tirelessly to create this home for me while his wife made sure we were fed well and that I was mentally prepared going in to this trip.
People look at me when I get out of the van, men mostly, surprised to see just me in such a male van towing a trailer by myself. I wonder what they think. Do they know I have my whole life right here? Do they know I’m doing brave things? I look confident as I double-check chains and ratchet straps and air pressure in the tires. Julia said this would happen, that people would look in surprise and their faces would change to looking impressed. It makes me smile inside when I see them double take. When they admire the interior of the van I find myself nodding, yeah, it’s cool isn’t it? When they question if I can even fit in the bed, the injured part of me cries out “Yes! And you can’t! No male can. It’s just me.” It’s undoubtedly an interesting relationship I will have with men for a little while.
I’ve landed in Booti Booti national park. The ocean crashes just meters from me. I’ve taken on the concept of this van being my home now. It’s beautiful and warm in the ply-decked interior and it’s quickly become somewhere I’m happy spending time in. The simple rituals of stopping and setting up camp, making a cup of tea and settling in to write have come easily to me. It’s a strange feeling, not knowing what tomorrow’s space will look like but I’m grateful for Australia’s never ending beauty and tips from friends on where to stop.
I do find myself missing internet connection but it’s a good indicator of how much time I spend lost in it. Once I let go of the search for a good connection it’s almost peaceful knowing it’s just my thoughts and I. I have my camera and my words and a mostly broken phone and I’m happy with that.
I can’t help but let my mind wander to places of sharing this with someone. It’s not that I dislike being on my own, but the comfort of having someone else experience joy and relaxation in unknown landscapes strike me as sounding quite beautiful. I’m not sure I would have done this if I’d been with someone else though. Jonas and I talked about it early on but it was always a ‘one day’ dream that I really doubt would ever have come to fruition. Being in that relationship always meant pushing on to something better but better was never found and better was rarely lived. It meant driving the same distance in two days that I’m driving now in three weeks, a constant pull of rushing and waiting. It was never a calm place to be. Regardless of that last place I have to check myself hard when I start romanticising relationships again. I question what it is that makes me lose practicality when romance is introduced.
I think a lot about Tassie when I’m driving. Constantly tossing up the ideas around basing myself there. I have dreams of creating a strong creative community and then I wonder if I will be able to, if I’ll have the confidence and the patience to follow through on my ideas. I think about marketing and keeping in motion. I wonder how I’m going to announce the move. It feels like such a short time ago I excitedly announced the upheaval to Byron Bay. How much do I say? It’s not common to talk of break ups in the wedding industry, for obvious reasons. And I don’t want people to think Tassie is a second option because my previous option didn’t work. I’ve battled long and hard in my own brain to figure out if this is the right move for me. I usually come up with yes, for beauty and business and family and community but as always, in my nomadic heart, settling scares me. My dear friend Alex soothed my soul by telling me I didn’t have to stay, that this was just another step in the journey, that it would be challenging and amazing and to take all I could from it.
I sat by the creek this morning, the sun flickering onto my face through the trees and bouncing off the water, filling my eyes with it’s dancing. It felt a world away from yesterday’s anxious churning at the thought of finally taking off on my road trip. Yesterday my life felt unknown and I was scared. Fearing making decisions on my own. Fearing my own company. Fearing the unknown. I set off far too late and drove through an intense sunset. As night fell and the trucks drove scarily close behind me I kept telling myself that everything was going to be ok, that the burning sky had been a positive sign, that this next path I was on wouldn’t be quite as challenging as the last.
Now here I sit, admiring perfect reflections on milky blue water, calm and content. I’ve lost some trust in myself these past few years, worn down and confused by the insecurities of others. I’d forgotten that I like my own company. I’d lost the peace in just being. I’d forgotten somewhere along the way that I love being me.
As I sit and write I let it sink in that I am not with Jonas anymore. There is nothing that ties us to each other. No lease, no possessions, no work. I have quite literally packed all my worldly belongings and left what we had together. We hardly even speak anymore, the mental connection fallen quickly away, tumbling down the cave left by the physical separation. Our words to each other have fallen into a black confusing abyss of emotions not spoken and a connection left to rot.
It pains me to write these emotions down but this is my healing process. This trip is a soul searching cliché of finding myself again. I haven’t been letting myself write and I miss it. I need it.