I’ve Changed

We are always changing, and things all around us are always changing.  But that change feels gradual, slow, and we practically don’t notice it as we go about our routined lives, taking the same train to work, walking the same path, or shopping at the same place.  It’s only when we step away for a while and come back does it hit us how much things have changed, and most especially how much we have changed.

I met my friend Grant today who has been away from Melbourne these past few months, travelling for a month and then working a contract job interstate.  He’s  been back in Melbourne and things feel the same, but he’s changed.  He doesn’t feel as happy and excited about being back home as he did before.  He took it as a sign and accepted another interstate contract and leaves again next week.  I have been in his shoes.  I’ve turned up back in my old stomping grounds and realized it’s a dead end, I’m not really meant to be here at the moment, it’s time to go again.

I felt similar to him today, so I could really relate to what he was saying.  I pushed myself out the door to go dancing today, the first time I’ve been to a Sunday morning dance in 8 months.  I used to love dancing and went every week.  It’s been awhile since I last danced and everything seemed the same as before.  The place was the same, filled with the same mix of familiar and new faces.  Some of my dancing friends were there as usual.  The music followed the same rhythm, and everyone went for a social lunch at the organic vegetarian place nearby afterwards.  But all I wanted was to turn around and leave, just like my friend Grant, and I did.  I didn’t feel it was where I should be at the moment.  The music felt loud, the room felt crowded, and I just wanted to go home.  I believe after taking some time to reflect, I needed to go dancing again today to really understand how much I have changed.

I used to be such a social person, I’d spend all but maybe one weekday evening out dancing, meeting friends for dinner, attending workshops etc.  I’d be so exhausted by the weekend I’d take one day of quiet to recover before going through the whole process again.  I enjoyed my social life so much, and my years in Asia were some of the best years of my life.

When I moved to Australia my life started to slow down.  I met Sam, a creative man who loves spending so much time at home writing movie scripts and music.  I started gardening for the first time since childhood, and I started writing again too.  The more I spend time at home doing those things, the more I love doing it.  The more friends invite me out for dinner or a gathering, the more I struggle.  I have a few friends in relationships who love being home as much as I do, and we meet spontaneously once in a blue moon for a yummy Asian meal, which is lovely, and I don’t expect that to change in the near future.  I love meeting family for the occasional dinner or Yum Cha lunch at one of our local Chinese haunts.  I love my Skype, What’s App & MSN chats with my two best friends in Hong Kong when we happen to both be online at the same time.  But on the whole, today I realized I just don’t want to be social like I was before.  I love my quiet life.  I love how most nights I have the option to do something creative, whether it be cook a nice meal, draw, write, or just lie in bed and read, meditate and explore my inner world.  I love how when Sam and I do want to get out of the house, we go to the hills, to a little trail where people rarely frequent and sit in the peacefulness of the forest.

I suppose I’m becoming a bit of a hermit, but the thought of a quiet night at home alone or with Sam makes me feel happier than anything else.  I’ve always been one for accepting changes, and accepting  people coming and going in my life.  But I feel I’ve let some of my more social friends down by turning down their invites, and for the most part making myself unavailable.  I haven’t always fit into their definition of a true friend, but then everyone has a different belief about what a true friend is anyway.  I can’t please everyone, I can only do what I feel is best for me in the moment and honour how I feel.

I’ve changed.  I’ve taken steps towards my dreams.  I’m becoming a writer, and in the near future I wish to devote my evenings and weekends to writing a novel.    I’m in a new phase of my life where I’m needing calmness and quiet, peacefulness and creativity, rest and space.   I’m really looking forward to enjoying this even more in my new home with a big garden filled with trees.  It’s a home for those who love to be home, it’s a home for people like me.


Have you ever changed and become a different person?  Was it a challenging or easy transition?

Did any of the people around you struggle with the changes?   



An Update on Life 

I lie here curled up in bed on a Thursday night feeling relief.  I feel like I’ve got my life back, though I know that I don’t fully.

In March we started looking around to buy a house.  We began more casually to see what was out there.  As we flipped through the real estate websites and visited house inspections every Saturday we gradually got a feel for what we liked, what we didn’t, what we needed, and what we could afford.  Gradually as time went by and our confidence grew, we became alot more serious about it.  We expanded the suburbs in the real estate searches, spending 2 hours every Tuesday and Thursday evening going through them all, planning our route, and then seeing between 3-5 houses each Saturday whilst trying to squeeze in a quick Yum Cha lunch with Sam’s parents in between.

People were wondering why it was taking us so long to find a house.  Some said we were being too picky.We saw houses older than Sams parents, new houses, ugly houses, colourful houses, lacking in light houses, haunted houses, crowded houses and once we even got stuck in the mud!

Sam and I are both “feeling” people. When it comes to houses, it either doesn’t feel right, it feels ok, or it feels amazing.  We refused to settle for anything less than amazing.  The second sign that the house was right was if we both couldn’t stop thinking about it for hours/days after.  Sam and I are such a good match because we are always on the same page, we always get the same feeling.  It has made things so much easier.

We had a few close calls on some houses that felt amazing and each time totally crushed us for days so we knew we weren’t being too unrealistic.  The first was a beautiful home at the South Eastern foothills of the Dandenongs that was just too far away – an hour and a half commute to my office in Melbourne city centre.  The second house was in the Eastern part of the Dandenongs but right in the middle of the highest risk bush fire area and we wouldn’t be allowed to rebuild if our house burned down.  The third house next to a large reserve park got snatched up before we got a chance to put down an offer.

A week and a half ago Sam and I were working away in our small kitchen.  We were both getting frustrated by the lack of space.  The next day Sam wanted to write some music but there was just too much stuff in the office and he felt too crowded to create.  I feel something shifted for us that weekend.  We reached that point where we’d reached our limits.  It was like we’d officially outgrown our little unit and were truly ready to find a house.  In my desperate plea to the Universe, “Ok, we need a house NOW.”  I wasn’t sure if I was reassuring myself that a house was about to come, or if it was actually the Universe responding to my plea. Regardless, there was a strong niggling feeling in my gut all last week that we were going to find a house.  Last Thursday as I went through the searches of all the neighbourhoods, I suddenly typed in a neighbourhood I hadn’t looked at since Easter:  Heathmont.

Back during Easter, we were sitting in my sister-in-law’s living room in Heathmont and I thought “I wonder how much houses cost around here?  This Gum tree filled neighbourhood is so quiet and pretty.”  Every house listed was way over our budget so I never looked again.  The truth is, Heathmont is closer to the city centre than the other Eastern suburbs we were looking at, so that’s why it was so expensive.  But last week as I looked through all the Heathmont listings, the most beautiful house caught my attention.  It was artistically and creatively designed and renovated.  It was the most beautiful house we’ve seen in a while.  The price was not as high as many of the other newer homes, but still borderline too expensive.  We went to the open inspection anyway.

I fell in love with the house, especially the tree filled large backyard.  One of my requirements was a treed outlook, and a backyard that gave a feeling of quiet peaceful space and would allow me to have a vegetable garden.  Sam and I instantly agreed – the house felt amazing.  We put in an offer and it was accepted.

Pending that everything goes smoothly, we shall move in the beginning of October, just in time for spring planting.  We are so excited to have found such a beautiful home.

It will be nice to live walking distance to Sam’s sister.  Our children will grow up so close to their cousins, a luxury Sam and I never had as my cousins were scattered across Canada, and his were in Hong Kong and Canada.  One of my cousin’s who is 10 years older than me came to live with us for a few years when I was a girl.  She’s still my closest cousin and I love and adore her to bits.  Also, Sam’s brother in law is an Australian born German.  I’m Canadian, and Sam and his sister Ruby are Hong Kong born Chinese.  I’ve always thrived in a multicultural environment, and I hope my children will too in Heathmont so close to family.

So although I feel I have gotten my life back, now that I don’t have to spend 4 hours a week looking through property listings and spending my Saturdays at house inspections, there is still so much to do.  I’ve got a big

move ahead of me, and our wedding is 3 months away.  Perhaps now I can hopefully start to find some time to meet up with some friends, get out dancing again, and write more stories.

Part 6 – The Secret Letter – A Blog Collaboration Story

Have you been following Gnat’s story?  If you haven’t, it’s best you go back to the beginning to find out what’s happened so far.  None of us have discussed this story with each other, so each week is a new surprise for everyone.

Part 1 – by Carrie Sorensen

Part 2 – by Nicole Piles

Part 3 – by Myself

Part 4 – by Tena Carr

Part 5 – by Leonard Suskin

Buckle your seat belts and get ready for a ride, Gnat is about to find a secret letter which reveals who originally discovered the key to time travel, what needs to be done, a little bit about her future self, and a surprising piece of advice for the journey ahead.

And now – Part 6 – The Secret Letter

Gnat looked up at Tyler’s face.  His skin was sagging, and his eyes drooped downwards like his shoulders.  Tyler looked so exhausted Gnat wondered if he’d fall asleep standing if he didn’t get any rest soon.  She wondered how long it had been since he had had a proper nights sleep.

Looking at Tyler’s worn features Gnat felt tiredness creep into her arms, her legs, and she rubbed her face with her hands.  She had no idea how much time had passed and her stomach was rumbling again.  She could ignore the hunger pains, but sleep was a different story.  Tiredness slowed her down and dumbed her senses.   Perhaps it was the stress of everything, the years of having to always watch her back, it all made her feel very tired.

“Tyler, you look exhausted, I am tired too.  I think we should rest.  Can we figure out what to do next in the morning?”  A perfectly timed yawn stretched her mouth open to prove her point.

“Yes, let’s talk more in the morning.”  Tyler turned as he spoke and started to shuffle down the hall after passing the snowglobe back to Freddy.  He didn’t turn back as he continued to speak “Freddy, please bring Naomi something to eat and then let her get some rest.”  I’ll see you both in the morning.  He shuffled into a room and shut the door behind him.

Naomi thought perhaps she should stay in the bedroom where she found the snow globe, perhaps it might help make Freddy believe her more, at least long enough so she could have some time alone with the notebook.  “Ill take that last room, if that’s ok with you Freddy. Who knows, I might find something more in there”

“Certainly Miss Naomi, I’ll bring you some tea and dinner.  I’ll be back soon.”

Naomi walked into the room and shut the door behind her.  She pulled back the covers of the bed and crawled in without taking off her clothes.  Freddy’s footsteps had already faded down the corridor.

Under the covers she pulled out the notebook with the torn cover that she had found.  She started flipping through the pages.  She knew she was in the future, but she couldn’t quite figure out how this exact copy of the notebook in her pocket was in her possession.  As she carefully flipped the yellowed pages she was surprised to find the contents of the pages all matched up perfectly.  The last page she had entered in the notebook she carried ended at the exact same page this yellowed version did.

The sound of Freddy’s footsteps approaching was her cue to hide it again which she did quickly and carefully.  Freddy knocked two quick knocks and then started to turn the knob.

“Come in Freddy” she said with a weathered tone.  Freddy entered with a steaming tray which he sat down on the table next to the bed.

“Good night Miss Naomi.” was all he said as he turned and walked out of the room shutting the door behind him.  Naomi didn’t move until she heard his footsteps slowly fade, then stop.  She heard the squeaking sound of a door opening and then closing firmly.  Freddy was staying upstairs too, and thankfully chose a room with a noisy door.  Naomi finally had some time alone to gather her thoughts.

She pulled out the notebook and began to eat the vegetables and grains piled neatly on her plate while flipping through the pages again looking for a clue as to why this notebook was here after all these years.  Why did it end where her notebook ended, and why was it left with unfinished pages?  Naomi began to flip through the blank pages when she noticed two pages felt stuck together.  She held the pages up to the light and saw the faintest tracing of letters between the pages.  Her heart started to beat in anticipation.  She carefully tried to pry apart the two pages without ripping them and realized they were glued shut.  Thinking quickly she grabbed the steaming mug of tea and pulled it closer.  Using the steam from the tea she ran the glued pages back and forth across the top of the mug until she could feel the glue loosen.

After 5 minutes she was finally able to pry the two pages open where she immediately recognized her own hand writing, except that she didn’t remember ever writing this.  She was surprised to find it was a letter to herself.  She instantly recognized her own scratchy barely legible hand writing.

When Gnat received her first notebook, so afraid was she of having her private thoughts read by snooping foster parents, or snotty nosed kids she so often had to share a bedroom with that she had invented a code of messy symbols in place of letters of the alphabet.  It was like her own language that she and only she could understand thus further making the notebook and all it contained hers and hers alone.

She lay the book down on the pillow, took hold of the mug of tea and began to read and translate the tiny faint hand writing.


I write this from approximately 38 years after the dreadful fire that changed our life at 14.  I have placed this notebook here in this house knowing you would come to this place with Freddy and Tyler and find it.  I knew that something was going to go wrong with Tyler, and that he would seek you out and bring you to this place.  I know this because all of this has happened before.

I expect that by now Tyler has had the chance to tell you that I am the one who found the key to time travel.  I found it because I wanted answers, and to go back, even if for a moment, to the way it all was before the fire, because the pain was too great.  I needed someone to share my secret with, and Tyler was the man I loved and trusted more than anyone in this world.  But I never should have given it to him.  I should have destroyed it instead.  Humans are not strong enough to resist the temptation to change what has come to pass. Time and history is fractured each time someone travels away from their present moment, and this causes so much damage. 

Tyler left with my gift, and it was only after he had disappeared into time did I find the flaw which would eventually get him stuck.  I searched for him, and he for I but we couldn’t quite find each other in the same moment of time. 

After I discovered the flaw in time travel, I found a way to fix it, and I hid the information in our secret place.  You must go there alone and retrieve it.  It is the only way to save Tyler.

I have made a terrible mistake and Tyler has paid the price for it.  I have placed this notebook here to warn you so that you will not make the same mistakes that I did, and Tyler will live.

One last word of advice: DO NOT TRUST FREDDY!

Good luck Gnat.  Don’t ever lose your street sense.

Noami Johnson   

Gnat had so many questions running through her mind, but her eyes grew heavy, so she did her best to stick the pages back together and tucked the notebook into her pocket and finally closed her eyes.  Sleep met her quickly.

She felt like she had only just fallen asleep when a few sharp knocks on the door bolted her awake.

“Miss Naomi, please come, Mister Tyler has news.”

Gnat lay there for a moment while she tried to will her brain awake.  She slowly pushed back the blanket crawled out of bed, and followed Freddy who was now walking down the corridor.

She followed Freddy into the room that Tyler had gone into what felt like only a few hours ago.  The room was brightly lit but Tyler was still lying in bed.  She walked over and sat down on the edge.  Freddy left the room but  did not shut the door behind him and she could hear his footsteps move down the corridor, stop and then continue.

Tyler looked as if he hadn’t slept at all.  His skin was ashen and the bags under his eyes had grown darker.  Sitting this close Gnat could see how thin his hair was, and the dark liver spots that freckled his skin, little dark blobs where there was once creamy white skin.  Tyler tried to reach for Gnat but his shaking hand stopped and fell back onto the blanket.  Gnat reached out and softly held his hand.  Tyler clearly was not well.

“Tyler, are you ok?”  said Gnat in a worried tone.

“Naomi, I’m running out of time.  This body is too old, it doesn’t have much strength left.”  said Tyler in a faint voice, a cough escaping half way through his words.  “But I just got word.  Whoever stole the secret to time travel just got sloppy.  She has been spotted. You and Freddy need to go and get it from her”

“She?” said Gnat, her eyebrow rising up.  Tyler never mentioned before that it was a she.

“Yes, I have just learned it was a woman.  You are strong, you are clever, you know…” Tyler coughed again, this time a little harder.  Gnat reached over and handed him the glass of water on the table next to the bed.  Tyler took it with shaking hands, taking a small sip before continuing.

“Go with Freddy, please, before it’s too late.   Find her.  I will wait here.  I have given Freddy the exact time and location she was spotted.”

Gnat said nothing.  She was getting a bit tired of all this running around without fully knowing all the reasons.  She really wanted to know more, but she wasn’t sure after reading her message to herself if going to yet another unknown place and time with Freddy was the best idea.  Plus she really wanted to return to her own time so she could go back to her secret place and find what her future self had left there.  But how could she do that without Freddy tagging along, or becoming suspicious?

Tyler seemed to sense her reluctance and opened his mouth to speak again, this time his words came out a little slower.  “Naomi, please, will you do this for me?  I promise, I will tell you more when you come back.  Be fast, I don’t know how much time I have left.”

Gnat didn’t move.  She sat there holding Tyler’s hand.  Tyler slid his hand away and slowly pointed towards the door.  “Please GO!” he said in a loud pleading whisper before sinking further into the pillow.  Naomi turned towards the door.  Freddy was now standing in the room next to the doorway.  She noticed Freddy had already put on his jacket, and was holding the black shawl and glasses she had worn the night before.  A bag was hanging down from Freddy’s shoulder, which was not completely buckled up.  The top flap hung slightly to the side, it’s clasps dangling lazily.  Naomi spotted the snow globe through the open crack.

Her eyes moved past Freddy to the doorway where instead of seeing the corridor, she saw what appeared to be a dark narrow alley way, lit from above only by the light of day that managed to stream in from the small open space above.  Gnat reached for Tyler’s hand and gave it a light squeeze.  “I’ll be back soon Tyler.”

If her future self loved Tyler, and wanted her to save him, she decided she would do whatever it took.   Seeing Tyler in this state melted a hard black corner of her heart, and she didn’t want him to die.  She realized he still meant something to her, even if that part of her was scarred forever by a fire, and her years on the street.

She got up from the bed and Freddy handed her the black shawl and sunglasses she had been wearing the night before and she wrapped herself in them.  Freddy then turned and stepped through the doorway.  Gnat took one last look back at Tyler.   Just as she was about to turn back to walk through the door Tyler opened his mouth and whispered so quietly Gnat barely made out the words “I love you Naomi, everything I have done, I did it for you.”  A small tear ran out of the corner of his eye and dove into the pillow, as if to escape from the grief.

She turned and with determination in her step she walked into the alleyway.

Stay tuned next week as Tena Carr takes over for Part 7.

Dreams Lived & Forgotten

Train Tracks


Each day she followed these train tracks on her long walk to and from town.  Her young daughter would complain about the distance, her small legs struggling to keep going.  Sure, she could have taken the road, and she did when it rained, or when the snow was too deep to walk through.  But out here she was left alone with her adult memories of secret childhood dreams of exploring the world.

“Mommy, how far do these tracks go?” Her daughter asked one day.

“They go very very far stretching from sea to sea.   In that direction the train goes to Vancouver at the Pacific Ocean.”  She turned and pointed in the opposite direction.  “In that direction, it goes very very far.  Past the Rocky Mountains, past the prairies filled with so many wheat fields, past the Great Lakes and eventually it ends at the Atlantic Ocean.”

“Can we go to the Atlantic Ocean too Mommy?”

“No sweetheart, it is too far.”

Her daughter was only momentarily disappointed, still a young kid, and too little to understand the enormity of the distance.

She wasn’t surprised, even she had no idea how far it actually was.  She’d lived her whole life in this small town, and hadn’t ventured too far away.


Five years passed, and she still walked with her daughter along these tracks whenever she could, though she was usually alone as her daughter now attended school.

She had hoped things would get easier, but they never did.  So she continued her walks along these tracks and nursed her dreams that were slowly drifting away like a melting ice flow.

“Mommy, wouldn’t it be fun to climb onto an empty train car like the littlest hobo on TV and explore the country, stop in new towns and meet new people?” Her daughter said one day after they had stopped to watch a long cargo train pass.”

“Yes it would be, but you know we can’t do that.”

“Why not?”  said her daughter in a demanding tone.  “It would be fun to see new places, travel around like a circus.  We never get to go anywhere.”


Her daughter was now a teenager and preferred trips into town with older boys who had cars.  She never knew where her daughter was half the time anymore, or got a straight answer when she tried to find out, so each day she walked along the tracks into town alone.  Her husband had started drinking and she found her walks seemed to drag out longer and longer as she stopped more often to feel sorry for herself and the life she’d wasted.  If only… But it was too late now.

It was summer holidays and her daughter was home and looked bored so she knocked on her bedroom door and said.  “Let’s go for a walk into town just you and me, we can stop for coffee.”

“Sure” said her daughter.

They walked alone in silence.  The bright sun was at it’s fullest point in the sky, and they stopped in a patch of shade to rest.

“Mom, did you ever want to leave this town?”

“Sure I did.”

“So why didn’t you?  Why did you stay in this hole?”

“Well, sometimes things don’t happen the way we’d like them to, and we have to just accept what we’ve got.”

“That’s not going to happen to me.  As soon as I graduate, I’m leaving this stupid town.”


Her daughter had moved to Vancouver two years ago.  She hardly ever came home.  She called every now and then, talked about all the exciting city things she was doing, but she didn’t understand half of what her daughter was talking about.

“Why don’t you catch a bus and come stay with me for ahwile?”  her daughter asked.

“No, no, it’s too crowded there for me, too noisy.  I’d just get lost! Why don’t you come home for a visit instead?”

Her daughter seemed frustrated by her response.  She couldn’t figure out why.


Her daughter was moving again, this time to New Zealand, it seemed she had grown tired of her job on the cruise ship.  She couldn’t understand why she kept moving.  It seemed like with each move she was sliding further and further away from her.  Her daughter had no intentions of coming home it seemed.

Two and a half years ago when she was living in Taiwan her daughter offered to pay for a plane ticket to fly her out for a visit.  Taiwan was so far away, she was too scared to make the trip alone.  She politely declined and asked her daughter if she was coming home for Christmas this year.  She no longer reacted in surprise when her daughter said no.

She put on her coat, grabbed her wallet and walked to town, her usual way along the tracks, stepping out of the way for the train to pass, barely acknowledging the direction it was headed.  The snow had long since melted.

Written for World of My Imagination Weekly Blog Hop