You know when you just have one of those weekends that make you go “aaaaaaaaaah”? Well I had one of those. Ewan and I (as that’s his name now… sometimes I actually do call him that by mistake) went to spend the weekend with Gail and Michael, who we met on our cruise ship last year.
I say “our cruise ship”, but of course it wasn’t entirely ours. It belonged to Orion, and was the kind of experience you’re only supposed to have once in your life. And usually, dare I say it, probably just before you die. Gail and Michael were one of the younger couples on board though, they’re not carking it any time soon. I wrote about it actually, at the time.
Back in September we explored the Kimberley together, which is still one of the most extraordinary places I’ve ever seen. I’ve now learned that not many people have actually been all the way up there; they haven’t seen the amber rocks torn and twisted by time, the rock wallabies bouncing against a blueberry sky, the bee hive army of the Bungle Bungles stretched like obese soldiers below a rickety, eight-seater plane. I feel lucky to have seen those things, while I’m relatively young, while I don’t need a zimmer frame and a pacemaker. I’m not sure I’ll ever go again – it’s that far away. But we saw them with Gail and Michael, which is probably why we became friends. They’re actually a bit like our adopted parents here in Australia, a land so spectacular, and so spectacularly far from our own families.
Gail and Michael live south of Sydney, in a place called Thirroul. It’s a gorgeous little community on the coast, but we did a lot of driving about and got to see all sorts of nooks and crannies of New South Wales, all of which I’d never seen before. We drove through the Royal National Park, saw kids doing dive-bombs off a rock into a lake, and Stanwell Park, where they used to live before the house got too big for them. And it made me want to live there myself.
We stood on the hill, overlooking the sweeping bay, which looks like a smaller, more peaceful Bondi. Michael said if they still lived in the old house, I could have had their adjoining studio flat for $150 a week. That’s less than I pay now and I don’t even have a sea view. Sydney’s so effing expensive. I want to live like an artist, with the rolling blue waves outside my window. I want to watch a rising sun spill slowly but surely, like a runny egg over my duvet and know that all I have to do all day is write, or paint, or make music… or feed my ever growing family of cats, probably.
The thing is, I can’t live anywhere beautiful just yet, because none of my friends would be there, and neither would any work. It’s all in the city. That’s why they’re allowed to rip us off. Expensive rent, expensive food, expensive drinks. Cities are always expensive; I guess we don’t have a choice. I had to come back to the robot life, the job hunt, the singles scene, the eternal quest for the next adventure, which I love and hate in equal measures these days.
I love having quiet weekends away. And I love having friends like Gail and Michael. And Ewan, of course. I hope that 30 years from now I’ll have a place just like theirs, in a lovely community (not a commune, that’s different, although it could quite possibly end up that way I suppose). Funny how you always want things too quickly, like when you learn to crawl, all you want to do is pull yourself up on your feet and walk. When you’re a kid, you want to be an adult. And when you’re an adult, you want peaceful Saturdays and Sundays, driving round coastal areas, remembering cruises and wishing you could just live in the moment.