Wednesday, 19 August 2009

fleeting moments

I was twenty, tired of studying and searching for direction. My sister had informed me the time off was good and that I should use it to travel. I wasn’t keen on the idea. The word “adventure” was missing from my vocabulary, but I took on board her suggestion and decided to “go walkabout”.

My mum, like all mothers, cried at the departure gate, my sister smiled and wished me “exciting adventures” and I picked up the backpack and ventured beyond Customs.

At the Duty-Free area, she clumsily bumped into me.

“I’m sorry about that, lost my footing.”

I couldn’t help but notice she wasn’t wearing any shoes. I told her my flight was heading to Lisbon. Dumb luck she was heading the same direction.

During that long journey I had the pleasure to discover the story behind the girl with no shoes. She was the complete opposite from me. She never entertained the thought of university. She grew up in a commune of artists and musicians in Byron Bay and unlike me, she appeared to be heading the right direction in her seemingly directionless existence.

For three months I followed her and she taught me how to let go of holding onto life and just live. I unabashedly swam naked of the beach of Santa Cruz near Vimeiro in the freezing Atlantic water, got swindled by gypsies in Sevilla and ate baguettes along the Seine. The fondest memory was being woken up by her screams of “bundle!” before seeing her throw herself on top of me.

For every night that past during those three months, I felt my hold on life loosen. I was so very shy and so very in love with her.

One morning she left me a note,

“I had arranged to meet a friend in London, I’m sorry I didn’t tell you this earlier – my share of the board is on the side table. I’ll meet you back in Australia and I promise to B.Y.L (Bundle You Later).”

That was the last I heard from her.

I returned to Australia at the end of the month and returned to University to finish my degree with honours. I know my nature will always be to hold onto life but I feel blessed that I had the chance to let go and just live, even if it was only for a fleeting moment.

This piece was published in Times2 (24.09.09)