Every now and then it’s good to stop what you are doing and just sit down, stay still, and take in your surroundings.
I never did tell you about Mary, one of the many strangers I met whilst exploring Paris.
It was the most stunningly beautiful day and I found myself strolling along the Seine, merrily photographing as I went. Here I had stopped to sit in the sun, cherishing the moment.
As I walked past a lady in a wheelchair who was busy scribbling on a notepad I made a comment to her about the lovely day in my most favourite of phrases: C’est Magnifique! She agreed and asked “Anglais?” “Oui”. I had been on a mission to find the most glorious and memorable rose flavoured macaroon by Pierre Hermes, but instead I just sat in the sun by the Seine with Mary and chatted all afternoon.
We spoke about all sorts; travel, writing, life, philosophy, Paris, Australia, health, tales and more. She was so interesting and we just seemed to click. She had told me she used to work for the New York Times but was dropped after an extended stay in hospital, but that our mission was to get me published before I left Paris.
Hours went by and as the sun slipped behind Musée d’Orsay it was time to move on. I helped pushed her in her broken wheelchair along the pavement, on a bus, over a bridge, down tight streets, across busy intersections, all the way towards her area / near my macaroon store. I told her I would like to buy her one of the macaroons if the shop was still open.
I do not know if all her stories were true, but it didn’t matter. Mary made my day, and that rose flavoured macaroon – the entire afternoon for that matter – made her week, her month.
Four days later, life changed.
Three days ago, I had my first article published! 🙂
Today, I was looking on Insta at photos of places I visited with strangers in Paris, delighted to see that the flowers I’d been told about were blooming.
“After all, seasons change. So do cities. People come into your life and people go…” – SATC
** From time to time just stop-breathe-enjoy the life in front of you, and smell (or taste) the roses. It can make your day, and others too. 🙂
Somewhere between Prague and Český Krumlov we turned off the highway and wound our way around some back country roads, discovering these beauties.
It was our first day of the road trip and the weather was making driving conditions rather atrocious. Snow and icy patches covered the roads as we left the capital, and even though legal speed limits on the highways are 130km/h, all traffic was creeping at no more than ~40/50.
I can’t remember if it was before our scenic detour or after, I think before, that I saw a vehicle just three or four cars ahead of us slide out on the ice when swapping lanes and smash into the barrier, spinning 270°. Brake!!!
Snow went everywhere. I’ve not seen anything happen so quickly before. The poor woman who was driving was alive as we went by – we could not stop, there was nothing we could do – but the shock in her eyes was something else. All I could hope was the rest of our trip wasn’t going to be like this… it wasn’t.
Nicola and Chaz drove, I was either back passenger or navigator, which allowed for many merry hours enjoying the scenery we passed through, so no complaining. I wasn’t exactly in a state to concentrate on the roads anyway.
We called these the “white trees”. They were simply stunning. We were entering the first major spread of snow of our trip, with absolutely everything turning white. I loved these things, and think back to them fondly.
Czech doesn’t hold the best memories for me, but these trees remind me to recall the beauty and the good bits, that did and do exist there.
Our experiences of certain situations can impair our ability to see things clearly, to see them for what they really are.
Lately I have been seeing and hearing a lot about Europe and its current snow scatterings. I shouldn’t really complain, or be jealous, for this day with the wonderful white trees was just one of many special snow moments we got to experience on the continent. We touched down into snow in Brno, and saw it in every continental country we visited in the New Year, all seven of them.
Winter in Europe sure is a very beautiful time to be there.
Being back at your own home, especially when it’s also your childhood home, is always nice. Surrounded by family, friends, pets and your own bed, surrounded by what you know.
The thing with returning home after travelling though is that there is so, so much familiarity, overload. I always struggle to see past this fact when I come back, so when in a good mindset I have to try and see with fresh eyes.
It is so freaking hot up here and that is not helping my situation. With every day being over 40° since stepping off the bus on Friday, I barely leave air conditioned space unless I have to. Two days ago I couldn’t even bring myself to go out to our pool, because it was too hot to get there! That same day was still 40 at 6pm.
Yesterday I took both our dogs for a walk down to the river. I set off for a pleasant walk after dinner / as the sun was slipping away in the hope it would seem cooler. Almost everything that could go wrong did go wrong. I came back extremely pissed off at everything.
It didn’t help that just before leaving I had found out it was snowing where I was in England, having already seen it had snowed in Paris a day or two earlier. If only I stayed! I was rather jealous (but thanks for the pics Viv), and I’m sure this compounded my annoyance.
I’d forgotten about prickles, ants, all non-straight sticks I feared were snakes. I was covered in mud, burnt, cut, and I have seen my fair share of spiders, more in three days than four months, which was topped off with a white tail coming out of a shoe I hadn’t worn since October, so I had opted for thongs – not the best choice.
All these things that you get used to when living here, are right now driving me nuts. I’m trying to see the positive side of things, finding it at times, but not always.
Travel limbo often reminds me of the following quote by Heraclitus: “No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river, and he’s not the same man.”
What once was is no longer, and what now is will not always be. Times are always changing, with certain things more obvious than others. Even when pissed off, at least I know it won’t be forever.
Half way through the four hour bus ride part of my journey home I can’t believe I have had goosebumps for most of the way. Choosing a seat on the left side of the bus as we headed North I thought I would have been pummelled by sun from the West, but it’s yet to happen. I am in the shade but still getting the full brunt of the aircon that I am sure these ladies in the sun are grateful for. So as a result I keep slinking up to the glass on my side which is radiating the heat from the 40° day outside.
I can’t help but sit here and reflect upon all the bus journeys we did in Europe, the seemingly furthest away from here being the -18° trip from the Black Forest in Germany to Paris. Everything was crisp white in snow, trees included, and most of the locals didn’t seem all to bothered by the beautiful views passing us by. Here is pretty much the same, except everything is cast with the burnt off yellow from the summer sun.
My eyes are still getting used to seeing so much green. I had got used to the juicy green grass, but here instead of the grass it’s the trees, pastures and occasional crops where the colour is.
Less than half an hour from the NSW border now, from which point I have another hour on the bus, then a touch over an hour in the car before I reach home, and a cool 42°!
Looking at the forecast earlier, the lowest maximum for the week is set to be 37°, and the highest low 24°. Considering the warmest I felt in Europe was early 20s in Spain, I’m surprised how well I am dealing with the heat, so far anyway.
Finally the sun is hitting my side of the bus… time to get my tan on!! 🙂
I slept. It took me a while to get to sleep last night, but when I did it was through until 9am, my longest since Saturday!
Little bro got back around the same time I got up so we chilled for a bit, watched some disgusting mega food show where I couldn’t work out if I felt hungry, or should vomit, then I headed into the city.
Going in on the train I put the headphones in and tunes up. I don’t normally go about with them in, but today I felt like it.
Walking all around the place I took my normal lane and arcade routes, then wiggled through some alternate areas and a couple of lanes towards the West where I don’t remember being before. I walked, talked, people watched, helped numerous lost tourists with directions, replaced my scratched non-scratchable lens filter, and also hunted down my favourite coffee and food in the city.
Whilst moving about I got pangs of inspiration about a few things, so hurriedly scribbled down notes so not to forget.
I continued to walk around and treat Melbourne a bit like I was a tourist, surprising myself on a few occasions by looking at things from new vantage points.
I went into The Little Library at Melbourne Central, finding a book to read, then realised how tired I was. I continued on, stopping to sit at a bench on the walkway to Emporium. I may have had a horizontal rest and accidentally fell asleep for almost an hour. The jetlag keeps hitting me hard late in the afternoon, I didn’t even know that I had.
Waking up I needed to be on my way, destined for a photography exhibition opening. I’ve never felt quite like I did when I woke though. Headachy, slightly delirious, and rather out of it, my vision kept blurring too. I stopped for some water which helped a touch, but I must have looked strange to others passing by.
The exhibition is at Magnet Galleries (@magnetorgau) on Bourke St near Southern Cross. It’s about Women At Work, taken by 15 or so women photographers, and held on International Women’s Day. Go check the place out, so much photography greatness going on there! 🙂
Afterwards I looped back to Flinders via Southbank before a train and 3km walk home. Now, sleep.
Magic is a concept of beautiful illusion designed to intrigue, entertain and enthuse an audience.
Last night I met up with a great selection of mates for a picnic in the gardens by the river to enjoy the day as it came to an end, the sun casting it’s last light over the city skyline.
It’s a delight to be able to sit back, relax, laugh and enjoy with people whom I have not see for four months or more, yet for everything to also feel so natural, so normal.
It was a beautiful evening in a superb city with a solid selection of the sweetest souls, all whom are curious about life and all its little lovelies.
A few weeks ago I wasn’t sure how I would go flying home, or being in a city again too, but all was good and it was nice to know I had such a night to look forward to upon my return.
Happy to say that as I revelled in the magic of the moment, it did at times felt a bit like a dream. Surreal is the fact that I am back down under once more, I had to keep reminding myself it was indeed real – I was there, my friends were there, and I wasn’t about to wake up.
Life is beautiful, life is magical, and it can feel like a most desirable dream if you allow it to. The illusive and illusory quality of such a thing comes from the idea of how much time we get to spend with these precious moments, along with our desire to understand and interpret what’s going on. Our time may be limited, but I would rather that then none at all.
Thanks to all who made it along, those who couldn’t, and to all whom didn’t as well – thank you for the special times shared not only last night, but in the many moments prior to now that have combined to be the collection of memories I get to call my life.
** Intrigued and entertained always, life sure is lovely!
Four days ago was three months.
Three days ago I sent an email.
Two days ago I missed a call; asleep.
Yesterday I missed a call; out walking the dog.
Last night the Eagles of Death Metal bravely got up and performed in Paris again.
Today I was up so could confirm my first therapy appointment for two days time.
Shit happens, and we have to deal with it. There is such a huge attitude of platitude(s) these days, which can make one feel like it should take very little time or effort to improve. No. It doesn’t work like that. Some things maybe, but not all.
I understand this may be a long journey, I will know more on Friday. But right now, I am content. Days are good and I am no longer living in close to constant fear. I am grateful.
I have changed though. My inner drive is no longer near, I cling to things and almost all I used to do I have halted. Not on purpose, it has just happened that way. I’m barely photographing, I’m barely writing, reading or even feeling. Thinking and doing yes, but for different reasons. I do things when I feel like it, no stress, no shoulda-coulda-woulda.
I needed to stop and rest, and I have done and am doing exactly that. I have a little daily routine which has helped my sleep, my movements, and my mind. I do not pressure myself to do anything in particular, but rather wait and see what the day brings, for I barely know what day or date it is anyway. It may not sound like much, but my days pass, I have a certain sense of purpose, and things are getting better.
** Wherever I am, whatever I’m doing, Paris will always have a dear little place in my heart. It was a hole, but now it’s healing, and the thought of going home is bringing back my feeling. It can be hard though, for the closer I get to happiness, the closer I am to where I was when life went from peak, peak happiness to the polar opposite – and that can at times make me wary. Still, I’m beginning to get excited for home; for family, for friends, for fun.
** The fact I didn’t realise until the 14th that the 13th had passed, or what the 13th indeed means and meant, shows things may be beginning to move on, to mend. So for that I can smile.