it’s on a train through green lush pastures that my mind spurs wild. we roll past the glasshouse mountains and i’m content because I have just turned 31. i’m on sabbatical. and the journey back from down under to up over is just beginning.
watching other drifters daydream out the window, my own thoughts move from the fisherman and his girlfriend sitting in front of me to the taste of the banana bread i had yesterday to the sad words penned in the memoir by rolling stone journo, rob sheffield, love is a mix tape. the clickity-clack of the railway tracks provide a beat while the johnny cash tune, “i hear that train a comin” plays silently in my head. with all this clear space in my mind, this is what comes to conscious:
… i know this girl, mad crazy in love. she’s the rock and he’s the roll. together, they are great music, epic rock and roll.
… the memory of a 1993 mix tape makes me want to fall in and out of love again just so i can be reminded how heart-wrenchingly painful losing love truly is.
… conversations amongst nostalgic vikings while listening to joshua radin makes me realise i turned the music down low after ‘ik hou van jou’ went off the charts in 2002 — its time to turn the radio up real loud again.
we arrive in nambour, a small respite in the sub-tropical hinterlands of the sunshine coast. some people are expecting the sights of noosa yet they are dead wrong. it’s true country in these parts folks.
a kind bus driver tells me he can take me to emmundi. i say i’m going there.
“where’s your stop little lady?” he asks.
“the post office please, sir.”
“ah, to meet postmaster matt?” he chuckles. i’m a little confused, the driver can tell. “the post office general of emmundi, his name is matt!” i smile and decline, i’m just passing through. besides, i have enough matthews in my life i reckon.
ten kilometres later i rug up in emmundi. i walk past the post office. i’m tempted to meet the postmaster but i keep on walking by. a big sign on the left reads, “krishna’s vegetarian café, turn up the laneway”. i’m a hungry girl so i couldn’t turn fast enough.
“$8 for a mixed bowl love,” the tattooed hippie tells me. i eat divinely up.
sitting atop this eco town i have one of those moments where my heart beats with excitement and my mind is racing so fast that my pen can barely keep up. my belly is full of excitement (and a delicious meal of whole foods). dizzy with adrenaline. this is the feeling i get when i’m having an epiphany. it happened when i got the job as service director of the peer help centre. it happened when a plaided stranger said hello to me over many loaves of bread. it happened when i naively stumbled into city lights books store. it happened when i finally found christiana. and it is happening right now while devouring this krishna bliss.
i eat and write in silence. my belly and mind both tickled happy. neil young’s “born in ontario” is playing in the background. a crazy horse indeed.
on my way out i catch the eye of a man who is packing up his market stall. he nods and says to me, “you look like you’re leaving home.”
i smile proudly, “no, i’m just arriving.” (my grin screaming, “this is the second stop in my journey home!)
i follow the instructions to meet “cath” at berkolouw book café. a lovely aussie says hello. i meet her british boyfriend. he had come to bellbunya for two weeks. he’s been around now for two months. they fell in love in the vegie patch. i’m smittened by their story.
some spins up steep hills, further deep into the hinterlands, we pull into a driveway where a statue of a buddhist monk greets us. it is quiet up here. only the humming of the mossies and the chirping of the grasshoppers are speaking. the lovebirds drop me off at joan’s door. i’m shown to my bunk. then a petite norwegian by the name of line sits with me. “welcome to bellbunya.” we have no rules she tells me. just some guidelines of mutual respect. she goes on to tell me this;
1. put in your three hours of labour each day
2. always be punctual for dinner, it is considered rude to miss the gratitude mandala
3. no talking or lights on after 9am
4. our days begin at 5am
5. absolutely no media (each resident is allowed one hour of internet each day)
i’m a little taken aback. so this is what life is ike up in the trees. but i’m ready for this step. the words of thoreau i recite in my head, “i am a happy camper so i guess i’m doing something right. happiness is like a butterfly; the more you chase it, the more it will elude you, but if you turn your attention to other things, it will come and sit softly on your shoulder.”
at dinner i’m introduce as the “canadian who is in transition from melbourne to somewhere. ” many people over dinner are curious to know what ‘somewhere means’. i’m interested in finding it too i explain to the guy from southern australia who left his life there to become homeless and then somehow found is way here. he arrived in september last year. “that somewhere became bellbunya. i’m home again.” he tells me. i like him already.
there’s another guy living here while his solar boat gets rented out up the road in noosa. the french canadian girl just lost her job and needs a warm bed for a couple of days. she came here penniless but she isn’t worried about getting to the next place. “a penny for each day.” her french makes me yearn for montreal.
perhaps the best way to describe this community is to borrow the words that aesop’s april newsletter uses to describe national poetry month:
“such solitude … stories of failure, renunciation and unrequited love … embrace thoreau’s opinion that we are more along ‘when we go abroad among men than when we stay in our chambers.’ … these characters walk the fine line between solitude and loneliness: be they tomboys, closeted homosexuals or overall misfits, they revel in being alone as much as they resent it … the hurt of star-crossed attractions and involuntary isolation [weighing on their minds].”
so this is the haven i’ve retreated to for 14 days. i’m not quite what to make of it just yet. but it is definitely somewhere along the way to up-over-there.