“He is rich who owns the day and no one owns the day who allows it to be invaded by worry, fret and anxiety.”
Australia – Part I:
We were lazily making our way down the Gold Coast highway when it hit me. My livelihood depended on this. Six months ago I was knee deep in grad school applications and trying to milk the most out of my remaining paychecks. I was sickened by the idea of having to give up the things that those paychecks provided. My stress levels were through the roof and even the slightest of injustices would set me off in a tailspin. I was running on five or six hours of sleep a night and so focused on making sure my bank account was sufficient that I neglected to realize that I myself was completely depleted. Had you asked me then, I never would have guessed that six months down the road I’d find myself in LA with a little Thai masseuse squatting on my back listening to my Australian itinerary.
Sunday, May 13th. Los Angeles, California 1:00pm:
Because the cab driver had trouble finding the spot and was too proud to say it, he dropped me off in a grocery store parking lot and pointed across the street. Under normal circumstances I wouldn’t mind saving the cab fare but when you’re on the outskirts of LA with a cab driver who points just as incoherently as he speaks, you’re a little hesitant to jump out of the car and go exploring. After wandering in that (very) general direction for a while I found the little Thai spa in the back of an abandoned building. I was starting to doubt my choice to give up control and have my Visa concierge book the appointment. But this trip, after all, was about freedom and removing myself from all of the unnecessary baggage that I’ve so carefully held on to all of these years. Standing in front of a dilapidated building on a dirty LA street was as good a time as any to start. Half an hour later I was I was face down on the massage table trying desperately to relax. The masseuse was crouched on the table awkwardly pushing my feet up to my head. “You not come back from there” she abruptly suggested in her thick accent. I couldn’t tell if she was warning me or simply making a happy prediction. Either way, there was a part of my straight-lace, stressed-out, totally depleted self that believed her. The other part of me just hoped to hell my towel didn’t slip.
Tuesday, May 15th. Dee Why Beach, New South Wales, Australia 9:00am:
Twenty one hours of flying time, a train ride, ferry ride, bus ride, short walk and one very intrusive massage later, I finally had my feet in Australian sand. Dee Why beach is about a ten minute walk from Brad’s apartment and a world away from where I started . We got ourselves breakfast at a corner cafe and found a place to picnic along the beach. I was in the beginning stages of a terrible bout of jet lag but was transfixed, nevertheless, by the postcard-worthy scene in front of me. We sat there in silence sipping our espressos and eating our buttery toasted banana bread. For the first time in a very long time, I had absolutely nowhere else I had to be.
The rest of the week was slow and sleepy but Brad managed to drag me out of the apartment on a number of occasions to see the city. We visited the Royal Botanic Gardens, took some pictures atop the rocks at Long Reef and had ourselves a beer at Manly Wharf, a few beaches south of Dee Why. Because Brad tends to have an insatiable curiosity, I’m able to enjoy the city from both ends of the spectrum. He’s a balance of experienced local and inquisitive tourist which allows for travel that is free of Griswold mishaps but every bit as exciting. Plus he roasted a leg of lamb for dinner one night.
Life is tough ain’t it?
By the time Friday rolled around my recuperation period was over and I was out of excuses. It was time for some real fun.
Friday, May 18th. Sydney, New South Wales, Australia 7:00pm:
Being about 40mins outside of the city, we set out for buses downtown around 7pm and collected Brad’s friends (and beers) along the way. We ended at The Star – Australia’s second largest casino – and that is where I finally shed my first layer of stress. I was on the receiving end of too many shouts to count but between drinking cocktails with raw eggs in them and moonwalking outside the bars at Darling Harbour, I knew one thing for sure. She was back. It may have taken loud music and several drinks to coax her out from under that mountain of stress but the me that I loved was finally resurfacing.
Saturday, May 19th. 1:00pm:
With only a few hours of sleep under our belts we headed off to the airport for our first “holiday.” We flew up the coast to Coolangatta, rented a car and headed north. Tracey (a former dance teacher of mine) grew up in Oz and her parents have a house on the water in Paradise Point, Queensland. They generously offered us a place to stay for the week. Being an ocean from home, it was a good feeling to have part of it here with me.
The next morning Tracey’s parents took us out on their boat to explore Stradbroke Island. We hopped off for some ice cream and to watch kids boogie board down the sand dunes and into the water. That evening we took a short bus ride to Surfer’s Paradise and found ourselves a spot in an Irish pub where the cover band was playing Oasis’ Wonderwall. Two beers down and I needed drunk food, of course. We got meat pies – a popular eat here – and headed home for the evening.
On Monday we drove up to Mt. Tamborine to see the rainforest and the Australia that most foreigners don’t know exists. Brad got a few surfs in over the days and he showed me Snapper Rocks where Quiksilver Pro is held. I couldn’t get over the views. I don’t know if it’s the color of the water or the angle of the sun but everything has this glassy, picturesque sheen to it here. This was no Dania beach.
We came home to cold and rain and I was happy to have a reason to stay indoors and relax. There is so much about this transition in my life that I’ve allowed to weigh me down. When you were once an emotional pack rat, it’s often difficult to leave your baggage behind. But the world is opening up to me in ways that I have never allowed it to before and it’s time to let go. It’s time to relax. To relinquish control. To shake myself of the demons that I’ve had with me for so long. And it is for that reason that I don’t believe it’s any accident that I ended up here. A world away from familiarity that is five paces slower than the chaos I left behind. I don’t believe it is any accident that I ended up in the one place where worries can’t survive. The land of no worries.
Up next: A trip to Cairns to dive the Great Barrier Reef