I haven’t been writing since I’ve been in Australia. (To be fair, I haven’t been writing since April.) You might not even know I’m in Australia. (I am.) You might not know that I’m in Australia for four months. (Well, three months now.)
The time is flying by.
I haven’t been writing because I’ve been busy. I haven’t been writing because I’ve been overwhelmed at times…by homesickness, by history, by beauty. I haven’t been writing because, honestly, there’s so much I could say that I don’t know where to start.
People have been asking me to write and to share more photos and I’ve had a hard time doing that because I’ve had a difficult time knowing how to communicate what it feels like for me here. It feels like I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be and also totally displaced. It feels like parts of me are dying sometimes but also that other parts might be coming alive. I can’t put accurate words to the parts though. And that’s really frustrating because I like words.
This last month has been SO fun and sometimes also hard.
I haven’t known how to write about all of that.
For those of you who don’t know the story of how I got here or why I’m here, I’ll share that in another post. I promise. For those who haven’t seen an update in a month, I’ll try to start writing more about what life is like, what I’m learning, etc. I have some pictures to show you. I have some words to teach you. I’ll set up my slide show soon. I promise that too.
But right now, I’m just going to tell you a story of today.
Today, I was feeling overwhelmed by both the coming alive and the dying thing.
That probably sounds more dramatic than I mean it to. Anytime you use the word dying it sounds dramatic.
I guess maybe it is.
Today was the beginning of a weekend away from Brisbane, seeing the Gold Coast for the first time. I stood in the highest building getting a birds eye view of the coast and later I stood in the ocean feeling the wash of the waves over my feet. There are times when this place is overwhelmingly beautiful to me. Several times today I could only stare and a couple of times I could only sing.
After I spent a little time in Surfer’s Paradise, I started to head back to my adorable Airbnb but felt the urge to take a detour when I saw a sign pointing to “The Spit”. I had no idea what The Spit was except that my quick glance at a map indicated that it was a spit of land slash harbor thingy.
When I got there, I parked and noticed a short set of stairs that went down into the water. I descended, and sat, and then – for reasons I couldn’t put into words – I started crying. It was partly because I had just read an email from a friend and I was missing my community. It was partly because this has been an odd week and is hitting right around a typical new culture crash time. It was partly because I suddenly felt incredibly lonely and simultaneously felt like I might never leave.
Whatever the reason, I started to cry.
Not loudly. There were people, people.
I cried anyway. Full on wet faced tears streaming down my cheeks. And I couldn’t put words to it. I just felt that thing that I mentioned before. The dying…and the coming alive.
When the tears subsided, I noticed that The Spit was walkable. It’s a jetty of sorts that goes out into the ocean and the presence of it creates a little cove of waves for the myriad of surfers that were still on the water at 3pm. So I started walking. I didn’t have my camera with me. Or my phone. I left them behind on purpose because I’ve been carrying them around for work and I just wanted to take things in without a lens in front of my eyes.
I watched the surfers for a while.
Surfers amaze me. A) because surfing looks hard but B) mostly because I’m afraid of getting eaten by a shark and they just hang out in the ocean with nary a care in the world.
I walked a little more.
I got far enough past the surfers that I could turn around to watch them from behind (I know what you’re thinking and no, that’s not what I mean) and noticed that I was also seeing the waves from behind. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen the back of a wave before. It’s weird. Not that different but different. You know…hard to put into words.
As most of you know, I believe in God, and I’m often impressed by his attention to detail. (I’m also spending a lot of time lately blaming giving him credit for that coming alive/dying a little thing.) I mean, how many people ever see the back of a wave? It’s like those ancient artists in Greece and Rome who carved the backs (and butts) of the statues that were on the high front porticos of buildings. How did they know that anyone would ever see them in museums? What gave them the artistic drive to create something that they thought no one would ever see? Why did they design both the coming and the going?
How many people ever A) find themselves in backwards vicinity to a wave and B) if they do, happen to notice that said wave is beautiful and powerful in a slightly different way than it is from the front? How many people ever see the push of a wave instead of just the fall? How many people see both the coming and the going? They’re both part of the same wave. The wave needs a push and a pull to move.
I felt like I was getting this little gift of seeing a piece of art from behind. And maybe as I write about it now, I’m getting a bit of a lesson.
Suddenly, while I was sitting there minding my own business watching the surfers and the backwards waves, the sky started to spit on me. Just a little. So I looked up and wondered where in the world a little rain could be coming from because the sun was out and the clouds above me were white and fluffy and happy.
Weird, I thought.
And then I turned around.
The clouds a little further out over the sea were dark and the five other people that were within shouting distance from me were freaking out (the joyful kind of freaking out) and taking pictures of each other on their smart phones.
They were taking photos of each other under the most beautiful rainbow I have ever seen.
It was raining over the ocean and what can only be described as a huge ass rainbow seemed to rise out and then arc back into the deepest part of the ocean. It was breathtaking.
Did I mention that I didn’t have my camera?
I couldn’t take a photo so, instead, I thought…hey…I should write about that…But the words will be completely inadequate.
Coming alive and dying. Front and back. Push and pull. Dark and light.
And thus, my first Australian blog post was born.
Here’s the thing, my dear readers…
All I really have to share with you are some words and some photos that might give you a small glimpse into things I see and conversations I have and the ways in which any somewhat uncomfortable prolonged experience affects a person…specifically me.
I wish you were here with me. Well, I wish some of you were here with me. Strangers read this blog sometimes.
The truth is that even if you were here, even if you were by my side for this entire four month journey, you and I wouldn’t see the same things. We wouldn’t hear things the same way. We wouldn’t have the same feels. We wouldn’t have the same coming to life and dying, the same pushes and pulls, the same fronts and backs, the same darkness and light. And there wouldn’t ever truly be words for us to fully know what the other was thinking, feeling and experiencing.
The words are never quite adequate.
So there we go. Blog post #1 from the land down under where women glow and men plunder (sadly a little too true). Also, you’re welcome. The dream of 80’s and 90’s music is still definitely alive in Australia.
Now, excuse me while I go eat my freshly baked kale chips, wine and scrumptious munchy meal that I’ve put together for myself over a book and classical music while sitting outside on a huge balcony in the middle of winter because winter is 65 degrees at night today. (See…you don’t really want me to tell you everything.)