May I be as brave in life, as I am on the road.

Archive for May, 2009

Breathing deeply…

…or not so deeply, as the case may be.
Yesterday was check out day in the Czech republic. I vacuumed and emptied the cupboards and have thrown away things. I am supposed to be leaving, mmm, 24hrs ago, according to the Czech out lady. She said to me ‘you will leave today please yes’. Haha. Well, I’m not finished packing, and I’m not finished with my friends, so I will leave tomorrow please yes.

And where will I go? At the moment, the plan extends to finishing packing and leaving Vinarska. And then? No and then!!! If I knew, I’d tell you. But I don’t know. My mum always told me, ‘You can do and be anything you wanna be honey’. Yep, the world is my oyster, never before so much as now. It’s time to say goodbyes and walk into the unknown.

I want to see Israel. Actually, I want to sit and talk with Ariel in Israel. My pendulum says the best outcome won’t be achieved by going there, that it isn’t important, although it does say I will be safe. It is a lot of effort. Is it true, that we only truly regret that which we do not do, rather than what we do?

My head and heart are so full, so I will start at the beginning and hopefully find myself somewhere that makes slightly more sense.

Spent some time with a French boy. He goes to kiss me and I walk out of the club- he doesn’t speak much English, but knows what’s happened, and he understands, his best friend died when he was young. We lay awake in the hall and he gets into rouble from reception in the morning. We walk to the lake; I listen to his iPod and fall in love with ‘On s’attache’ by Christopher Mae. Dancing and singing to People Press Play. Loving YouTube playlists. Followed a very drunk Mexican around the hallways holding his hand while it dripped blood all over the walls, the floor and me. Sent my passport back to Australia and am now in possession of a Visa, thanks to Ellen for the loan, and Bridge for sending it back! Did my Czech exam at the beginning of the month, passed conversation (of course!) but failed grammar. Resat it and passed no worries. Went to a music festival here in Brno called ‘Majeles’- and today I stole the Majeles life-size cardboard girl with awesome flicky hair and gave her to Rami pastrami. Went to paintball and kicked the other teams ass! In the Czech republic, there is no minimum distance and you’re allowed to do headshots, gasp! Had a major essay due the day after and didn’t hand it in until a week later. Luckily I still got a D. Sailed through ethnic relations and Sociology exams, I assume I passed as well. Did some more dancing and 5am Falafel. Skip class, angrily. Enrique makes a BBQ; I take heavy drags on the joint being passed around and need to leave the room.

Then the goodbyes start.

As soon as my passport arrived Thursday lunchtime, packed and headed to Ellen’s room to looking flights. Chris Howard was on in London from 15-18th of May, so after many hours of frustration with me lying on the ground trying not to hyperventilate, finally bought some tickets online for the next day. Pulled an all nighter, said goodbye for the last time to Sarah, giving her some rose quartz HAVENT ELABORATED ON ME ASKING HER OUT AND REIKI and Mark, by leaving a koala and a note on his door…  and made it to a 9.50am flight from Prague to London. Didn’t even notice that I sat next to the exit, which I normally don’t do, and then started crying when the plane took off. Looked down on the clouds for the first time since losing Ariel. The flight attendants gave me free tea, cookies, and bottles of water, bless them. I realised that if you go up high enough, there’s always blue skies. (Kinda a weed metaphor, don’t you think?).

Found myself back in an English speaking country for the first time in 4 months. Stayed at the youth hostel in Kensel green I stayed in when I first came to Europe. Ate super spicy Ethiopian (?!) food and marvelled at the amounts of fresh veges in the markets.

Back at the hostel, I sit and chat with a dark skinned man with dreadlocks, outside the door of a lady cooking up chicken and serving it on a table for 2 pound fifty.

Arrived at BTS no problem and settled in for a few 14hr days. Chris Howard is…? Difficult to describe. NLP, neurolinguistics, (similar to hypnosis) self-development, awesome fun. Usually go in Australia every year or so, last year Bridget and I crewed together, volunteer working for the conference. This was divine timing, just when I needed to get clear on what I want to be doing and where I want to be going. Came up with a few conclusions by the end of it, about my life and myself.

At this point in time I don’t really value my education, so I will be deferring uni for a while. I want to spend the rest of winter at home with my parents in front of the fireplace, reading lots of books. Then to visit some people up North that I haven’t seen in way too long. If I work, I can easily earn more money in 6 days then I get for 2 weeks on youth allowance. I want to dance 4 days a week and work 3. I want to save up and buy a laptop and a combi with a bed in the back and drive around Australia. Sounds like heaven to me. I am actually impatient to come home now and get into it already, which is a huge change from how I was feeling about it before.

<I walk through the weekend relatively detached and numb.  It’s like the first time I have heard the anecdote. Son, these buckets are your tears. >

Monday morning I pack up, look at a map, and leave the youth hostel. Buy some stamps from the London Victoria post office and then get the 3.30 coach to Dover, the port from which the ferry leaves to go to mainland Europe. Get some advice from a lady on the bus and disembark. Walk into a salmon pink hotel she had mentioned; ask for a pen and some cardboard. A gorgeous old woman ushers me into the lounge room, offers me a sandwich, fetches me cardboard and asks where I am headed. I tell her I want to hitch the ferry. This doesn’t surprise her as much as I expect, but she insists I stay put for the night and offers me a free room. Score! I accept.

Next morning, I wake up a little late at ten (despite going to bed 12 hours before hand) pack, dress, and stand on the road. Hold up my ‘Dusseldorf’ sign,

My first hitching sign. Dover, London

and within a short time a truck headed to France picked me up. He didn’t speak much English, and once on the ferry, fetched his friend who did. They bought me buffet lunch. I jumped up and down and squealed when we sighted the beaches of Challis, France. Got back in the truck ready to go, a few guys walked past. Half joking, I wound down my window and held up my ‘Germany’ sign. They grinned and said they were headed to Germany. Grabbed my suitcase and bailed. Got in their red car and spent about five hours mocking their pommy accents, drinking beer, eating Belgian chocolate. A team of grease monkeys and two racecar drivers heading to a race meet. Spent a while amusing them by holding up a Europe map and telling them all the places I intend to go, and measuring how long it will take with my fingers, 5cm= 8 hours? Lol. Drove out of France, across Belgium, around Brussels and into Germany. They were headed to Koln and offered for me to come and be their umbrella girl, tempted, but I decline. Can’t remember where we crossed the border, but they dropped me at a servo and truck stop. Waved goodbye and held up my new ‘Dortmund’ sign.

It starts raining. All the cars are on the autobahn and not near me. It isn’t looking good; I start ‘can’t believe this’ dancing and giggling. A red van stops to Czech his directions and I ask him to take me. He does. Talks to me, with a lisp that made him hard to understand, about not being allowed into Russia anymore cos he’d been in the Russian mafia?! He drives off his route and all around Dortmund looking for the main station ‘haufbanhof’, finds it, and waved goodbye. Sit on my suitcase and wait for Yossi to get his ass to me.

Had beer, ‘kebap’ and baklava. Started learning German. Watched the matrix. Washed. We drove 180 on the autobahn (unlimited speed limit!!) and pissed ourselves laughing when Yossi missed the exit. Went rock-climbing in an industrial area that had a beach in the yard. Cooked an omelette that ended up looking like scrambled eggs. Shared Ariel’s funeral on the couch with Yossi’s arms around me. Got the train to Düsseldorf and watched some street dancers. Tried to get Yossi to ask for ice cream without milk for me, it nearly ended in tears. Went up the TV tower. On a BEAUTIFUL day, watched the sun set by the Rhine River.

Have the best Chinese I have had in my life. Visit José’s mum and dad; quietly walk through paddocks in the country.

Yossi gives me his backpack!!!! Tick that off the worry list. Awesome. On the 5th day, print a map and finished packing, after losing a bet that the backpack would fit in my suitcase- what was I thinking?! Say goodbyes with Yossi, he drops me in a shady place near an entry to the autobahn.

After ten or 15 minutes that felt more like an hour, a guy stops for me. Prison guard, headed to Hagen, the next town over. Tells me the world is filled with bad people and he would tell his daughter never to hitchhike. He shows me a bus stop near some traffic lights where the road goes to Frankfurt. At the servo I get some cardboard and a pen, make a ‘Frankfurt;’ sign; because the road also goes to places I didn’t want to go. After ten very awkward moments of people staring and pointing at me, with me shrugging my shoulders and laughing like, ‘yes, I know, I am standing on the side of the road’, a woman stops and clears the front seat. And, what a woman 🙂

She starts talking with me, in very fluent English, and doesn’t stop for the next 2 hundred kilometres. She feeds me Twix. She tells me about being a strong woman in a world, which is still adapting to changing roles; about her first marriage and why it didn’t work; about her mother dying and what she wants to do with her life. ELABORATE she works in hospices with people dying, and caring for their families. She asks me if I believe in a god, if I think there is destiny. I tell her about Ariel and she makes it clear to me that he had made peace with me before he died, suggested perhaps there is a light, and perhaps we are called. She touches me deeply in the 2 hours (?) I sit in her car. I sit and listen, mostly silent, captivated. I quickly admire and respect her intelligence and strength, feeling deeply understood. She reassures me that I am not alone in my experience of the world. Fuckin awesome.

Truck stop, we pull up behind a truck. Erica asks in English, and then in German, if he is going to CZ, if he will take me. He is and he will. I spend the next 8 hours going not at 180, but at 80, on the autobahn. With 24 tonnes of ‘jablko’ (apples) in the back, feels like slow death as the cars fly past us on the hills. He watches House on a laptop on the dash and texts, my head rolls around as I repeatedly fall asleep. Lesson: don’t get a truck on the autobahn, get a car. Made my trip 4 or more hours longer. Shortly after I get in, I realise that I have forgotten all my Czech while Yossi taught me German. I slowly and painfully struggle to remember the words I know. We get there eventually. If nothing else, it is a good excuse not to make polite awkward conversation. He needs to stop to sleep, offers me a bed at his place. I politely decline ‘Prominte, nechci, dekuju’, (please, I don’t want to, thank you).

Find myself in what I quickly discover is a very small town in the Czech republic at 10pm. Tell myself to stay calm and head into a restaurant. Find a lovely blonde girl who is happy to help- the first Australian she has seen in Lovosice. A guy buys me a beer as she calls around for buses, trains and hostels. The closest hostel is 5 kilometres away, they sign me a coaster (‘souvenir’) and we get in the car. Arrive in an even smaller town to find a hostel with locked gates. The guy with us goes around the side and I crack up and can’t stop laughing when we hear dog barks and he comes sprinting back out looking shit scared. There are no beds. A police officer stops, she knows him, and they talk in Czech, I offer for him to arrest me. He doesn’t. We follow him to a small ranch on a hill that smells like cow poo. There is a one room wooden shack next to the driveway and he searches around with his policeman torch for the key for a while. He doesn’t find it, and doesn’t kick the door down, worst luck. That woulda made one hell of a story.

Zuzanah (the blonde girl) calls her mother and she says I can sleep on the floor. I shower, her mum feeds me chicken pate, which I coat in A LOT of ketchup, and we sleep. 8am, ATM for money, phone credit for a freshly charged mobile, and bus to Prague, for like, 5 dollars. Prague by 10am for the bus to Brno. Back at Vinarska by 1230 🙂 I greet my roommate, and start cleaning out the room. Sorting things to bring with me, things to give to Ellen to take to Belgium, things to throw away.

We go to ‘The Pub’, which has beer taps on the tables. I have fun pouring, and drinking, lots of beers. We go to Rubicon? For half price cocktails and dancing. I wake up early Monday morning feeling worse for wear and go to check out from my dorm room. They want me to hand over the keys. How anxiety provoking. Mrs Janskova asks me where I am going and it hits me, I don’t fucking know. Yes I can extend my stay here, but that would only be to delay the inevitable, to put off for tomorrow what I need to do today. I need to say my goodbyes, whether I feel ready and prepared or not.

Last night, a bottle of Griotte, some beers, some Risotto, and another goodbye. Kevin sat next to me in my weed-induced haze and I will always be grateful for that. Today, I continue packing and sorting, coming to terms with what is happened. Go through and stick all my little souvenirs, receipts and brochures into my travel journal. Fax letter to the bank about new credit card. Take forms to Amal, the exchange coordinator, and it seems too easy. Life is going on like normal and yet, it is all about to disappear.

I hear that Kay is in Southern France, near Spain. Maybe I will hitch there, spend two weeks in France and Spain. Couchsurf? Stop in Switzerland to skydive over the Alps? Apparently they do a barn stay, which sounds cool. Cheap flights, June 8th from Germany to Israel. Which is right next to Egypt, so, pyramids anyone? June 15th, teacher is running a counselling course in St Petersburg, Russia, I might attend. See the ballet there? June 23rd- Summer solstice up north, want to experience 24hrs of sunshine. Rave in Belgium July 1st? Of course, I have to fit in sailing in Croatia. Nel predicted I would and I don’t mind if she’s right 🙂

The only sure thing is flying out of London July 21st. Maybe stop over in Thailand for ten days, come home with dreadlocks?? It’s just too exciting to bear. Between me and July 21st is… 56 days. 1320 hours. And a continent to experience. Bring it on.

I have no idea where I am going. It is exhilarating, exciting, terrifying. The thought makes me feel alive. A worrier’s wet dream, what will the future bring? Love you all and I trust you are living each day to the full! I will be on Skype every now and then when I am staying in hostel. See you on the other side!

 


Life is beautiful, life is impermanent: The seedy underbelly.

So. I am officially crying again. How did I walk for one day, let alone six days, with this inside me?

When I write, the impetus is my heart. Many words have gone unsaid in my blogs and communication with the world around me. My heart is fragmented in the shadow of my mind. United, the rational stands strong and ready to dominate. Fragmented, the heart’s voice is a whisper I’m craning to hear. Sometimes.

I have been speaking words that I mean, and words that feel empty. I speak words which I repeat over and over in the hope they will sink in and become some kind of cohesive reality. I worry I am repeating myself. A symptom of de ja vu, my reincarnation? I am repeating myself.

Unspoken are the Band-Aid boys, unspoken are the internal struggles. Unspoken is the anger, and oh, such anger. The words ‘He said there would be a home waiting for me, whenever I came back….’ leave the anger, desertion and betrayal unspoken. ‘He wrote in our book- and I was sure we gonna get married‘ says nothing of the story which went not untold, but unlived. ‘In our last conversation, we argued about god, and he told me that bad things happen for no reason’ doesn’t open up to you the senselessness I am now floating in. How socially inappropriate.

Today is funeral day, but fuck, every day is funeral day.

And then I’ll be going to Israel…
Why are you going to Israel?
To see Ariels grave….
Who is Ariel?
Exactly.

A friend tells me, there is no clarity; it’s foolish to try to live with clarity. A life pierced with fleeting moments of clarity amongst cloudy confusion is the best we can hope for. He tells me, there is no perfection, we cannot be perfect, but you can’t accept that.

He’s right.

My moment of clarity said: Life is fleeting, it is to be enjoyed. Do not waste your time worrying. What matters is sharing and making the people around you feel good, like he did. Do not waste your energy on anger when you could be enjoying the presence of those you care about. Share, because today is all you have.

Now back to the human. Back to the imperfection and back to the inadequacy, after sitting and crying with god. How do I grieve for you, and at the same time honour you by enjoying my life? I am moving on unwillingly. (I have no choice but to march onwards through this life?). There is no rewind button, there is only the here and now, and the thought of life with no more Ariel makes me want to fuck the here and now. The word death makes people squirm. How do I honestly share how I feel about life and what is happening without alienating the people whose company I want to enjoy? Without ruining their day by bringing loss and incoherency into the picture, when I want to be delivering sunshine, lollipops and rainbows. I find myself uncomfortable in my own skin, tripping over and dropping things and feeling awkward and embarrassed.

Strange things have happened to me in the past 3 weeks. I learnt a little about anxiety. It isn’t what I thought it was at all. When I heard what had happened to my housemate, as I cried and cried, I sweated. And when the tears stopped, I noticed my heart beat loudly, and quickly. Anxiety is pain, pain is anxiety. Knowledge of our own fragility naturally makes us feel unsafe. I experienced for the first time that alcohol really does numb emotional pain. I knew it made me feel different, but, for the first time while drinking, I cant even remember what, I found myself laughing. I learnt a little about the comfort of having people around you. Sex drugs and rock n roll, baby. I found myself floating from friend to friend. Exhaustion numbs you. At night, I would feel deadened but not cry. No energy to feel anything. And the pain? What is that? Why do we hurt? What does it mean to hurt? Why is pain a universal experience when someone dies? Awkward.

You can survive anything if you have a purpose. So, finding the meaning, the coherency behind all this. Yes, I constantly find myself in just the right situation to speak to just the right person at the right moment to express what I need to express. Following the mood is easy at Vinarska. But what is the fucking point? An old question that I know I have nothing new to bring to the table on. Yes, I can get up in the morning and make myself look pretty and feed myself and make social niceties, if I must. But do I have the will to walk on, as it rains senselessness???? I have no choice but to move on, life moves whether I like it or not, to a constant schedule of change. Punch after punch that I must roll with, whether I want to or not. So I move unwillingingly, passive aggressive seeping through my pores.

I want special treatment. I want to scream at everyone I encounter, No I won’t fill out your form and provide the details you want, Fuck You, don’t you know my housemate died? No, I can’t pay my phone bill, things are complicated right now, Fuck You. No, I don’t want to talk about Australia, my house is empty of the body that is supposed to be living and breathing and waiting to hear about Europe, Fuck You. Yes, I am still upset about it. No, three weeks is not long enough for me to come to terms with this. And Especially! Fuck off, no I will not kiss you right now, sorry, you may not have noticed, but I am busy trying to hold my heart together with sticky tape and gritted teeth.

Why am I at the post office? I’m picking up a package from Australia. Of my housemates memorial.

Who?
My housemate who died.
Your who?
My housemate. The person I lived with in Australia. He died.
Oh…
I’m sorry.
Yeah.

Sitting in the Czech language office, I look over my paper. Apparently 67 is not good enough. I want to slap the lady in the face as she curtly informs me that a father cannot be many, he must be nice, and that dve, obviously means two, even if it is not stated as plural. I want to throw the fucking exam in her face and grab her by the shoulders and shake her until she realises her own mortality.

Most annoying is the recurring realisation that this is not special. This is just life. People die all the time, so just fucking deal with it already. Yes, it’s sad, but it’s hardly a fucking tragedy, Kim tells me when she calls.

This happens every day. Babies are born, people die, such is life. To add insult to injury, no, I was not the closest to him. No, he was not my lover. No, he was not my best friend. No he did not have my blood in his veins.

I look up and airplanes trail across blue skies, I ache. I write in my Czech exam ‘Mam pět sestra a nemam bratr’. I don’t point out that, well I had someone who felt just like a brother, but he had a tenancy to jump out of planes so now, ne bratr. I write that ‘Mam chočka. Jmenujes Murphy’, and don’t add that I entrusted my most precious companion to someone who, intentionally or not, left him, left us. And where is he??

This fucking question screams at me. Where did he go? Passed away to where? and, relatedly, Why are we here? Who put us here and why, What is the purpose of this whole fucking charade?

I tell Axel, I want to vomit on my life. You pin pictures on your walls here to give your ego something to cling to so you can walk through each day in denial of your impermanence. Identify with things, to avoid the harsh reality that it is all dust and ashes, baby. Nothing lasts. I truly didn’t notice that before.