Who do you think you are?

Who do I think I am? Queen Elizabeth?

I know exactly who I am. I’m the woman who can still keep track of every hair appointment she’s had as an adult – can still count them on her fingers.

I’m the woman who’s never spent more than $100 on her hair at any one time.

I’m the woman who’s had her nails done exactly once in her life.

I’m the woman with the cracks in the floorboards. I’m the woman who’s bathroom floor is only waterproof because of gaffer tape.

I’m the woman with the half-painted bedroom. I’m the woman who’s never once bought a new lounge suite, dining table or fridge, and who’s clothing budget has been lucky to run to $50. A year.

I’m not complaining. I know who I am. And I’ve been blessed – very blessed – with lounge suites and fridges and tables and chairs and clothing, and hair that looks okay even without much effort put into it.

It’s just that now things are weird. Different.

Today I’m the woman who is arranging passports for her children, and buying backpacks spontaneously. Today I’m the woman assessing the pros and cons of expensive suitcases, and picking up framed family portraits to hang on our need-to-be-painted walls. Today I’m the woman planning a holiday to visit places I’ve only ever heard about in books.

Today I’m the woman I dreamed of being when I was just a tiny girl, but I’m bringing it all home to sit at my second-hand table in the kitchen with cracks in the floorboards.

I can’t look back right now, either to rejoice over the blessings or grieve over the losses. I just can’t look back. I don’t know if I’m ready to look forward either, so for now I will shut my eyes and trust.

Everything changes. Even the things we swear never will.

This, I believe, is a good thing.

This. I believe.

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KAZAM! I got Januaried.

I’m back.

I’m glad. It’s nearly February, and to be honest I don’t think I’ve ever been so glad to see the calendar page turn over, and it’s nothing to do with the picture for the month, which is entirely inoffensive (the Capitol building in Lansing, Michigan, for all my US friends). Once the bushfire week calmed down the weather has been lovely, it’s just…just a January thing.

I didn’t know what it was. I couldn’t put my finger on anything but grief, and that scared me more than I knew how to say, because grief is an unknown and debilitating suck of time and life and energy. It scared me because I didn’t want to spend a year in that place of numb, some emotional holding pattern of spiralling downward and inward, nor did I know what to do about it.

I prayed. I read my bible. I tried to dream, and think of all the great plans we’re making for 2013. None of it helped. That too scared me. I put a smile on my face and made sure I kept walking, and ate enough chocolate to drown out the noises of the darkness inside.
Ever been there? I’m sure you have.

And then last week the miracle happened. I found Sonnie’s email address again. I went to the supermarket and ran into Emma and the kids and arranged a playdate. Selena texted me. Sally emailed. Stevie emailed. Suddenly the blank squares below the Capitol Building in Lansing were filled with times and dates and arrows and circles for coffee and names of friends I love.

I thought I needed time by myself. I did. More than that though, deeper, I needed time with people over the age of ten*. People I could relate to, People I could be myself with. It’s summer. Bible studies and social networks and things like that shut down because people go away. People went away. We went away.

I never knew how good it’d feel to see my friends again.

KAZAM! I think I just got Januaried.

*Okay, make that over the age of 30. I don’t think hanging out with a bunch of twelve year olds would have improved my mood that much either.

Honey, I’m home!

I came back from my Grand Adventure.

There is so much to say, and so much to think. How two weeks in the USA can change a person so profoundly is anybody’s guess, but it did. We are all different now: my house is different, my husband, my kids, we’ve all changed by this experience, and for the better. I will talk about it here, and the changes that have happened, but not just yet. Now is the time for quiet, and for remembering, and for allowing myself to stay different and not be swept back up again in the familiar routines and thoughts and expectations.

I’m looking at my photos. A lot. Just to remember that Michigan has funny yellow traffic lights that hang on a rope in the middle of the road, and that yellow school buses are real (they really are!), that LA doesn’t have trees, that pharmacies sell beer and Walmart sells guns (YES! It really does!!). That true friendships don’t mind about the fact that you may not see someone for ten years, or that you may never have met them (or even spoken to them) in person before. That Americans are just the most kind, loving and beautiful collection of people that I’ve ever met, and that the world will always feel just a little bit smaller now because I’ve wrapped my the silk thread from my heart around and around these people and trees and shops and bedrooms and couches and clocks and kitchens, and if I squeeze myself really close I can always pull that thread just a little bit tighter.

Losing my (travel) virginity

I’m going. People ask me how I feel. All the time.
I guess I feel excited, but more than that. Much more.
I feel defenceless, not in a bad way, but in the way that small children and old people are defenceless. Everything that comes at me I receive. There’s no question of not-taking-it-personally now. Everything is personal.
I feel like Jesus must have felt those last few days of his life on earth: acknowledging that I’m a few days away from the inevitable, even though the inevitable is something I can’t understand, and can’t imagine. And I can’t understand and can’t imagine how people do this all the time, without thinking about it.
I feel calm, with the silent acceptance that the dying seem to display. There’s no fight any more, and the bargaining has long passed. There’s no fear, not really, just a warmth surrounding me, like I am walking ever so slowly towards a light.
I only have one prayer today, and it goes something like this:
Hold my hand please. Be with me. Don’t ever let me go.
And Thank you.
How about you? How are you travelling today?