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?   

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Relief

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.

I Love Trees

I live in a very English part of Melbourne called Surrey Hills, complete with Victorian houses, manicured gardens, and maple tree lined streets.

Canterbury is nearby with it’s cute little shops & cafes.

There are some very old trees in my neighborhood, trees like this:

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And this…

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And yet in the middle of my local park is this giant Euclyptus reminding me of where I REALLY am.

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I love trees, and the uniqueness of the ones in Australia.

It’s been 6 weeks…

It’s been a tough 6 weeks.  It’s hard to believe it’s even been 6 weeks, it feels more like 6 months have passed.  I hardly remember April, Easter with Sam’s family, or the big events I helped plan at work in March.  I barely remember the summer days when the sun was up before I was.

I feel like I’m a lagging computer whose hard drives are filled to the max. I wish an extra stick of ram, or transferring some files off onto an external hard drive could do the trick. Since I’m human instead of machine thus requiring extra processing time, it’s taking me longer than usual to respond to things. I simply am not working at maximum efficiency. Perhaps a  re-boot would help.

Most days people ask me how I am.  I respond with a chirpy “I’m good!”  Because in reality, I’m doing alot better than a few others in my life, and I can’t help but compare.  But people are misinterpreting my “I’m good.”  I suppose I am too.  Yes, compared to my Mother, and quite possibly even my siblings, I am actually doing good.  But I suppose compared to some whose life is filled with joy and bliss, my life is a bit blah, for lack of a better word.

On May 6th, the day of the supermoon, I walked along the beach near Mermaid Waters QLD.  Life felt so peaceful, yet I knew it was about to change.  That was the day my dad died suddenly in Canada.  The news came with the rising moon into the clear night sky.  A whirlwind of flights and emotions later, I found myself back in Canada comforting my mother and helping my family to plan my dad’s funeral.

6 weeks later I am back to routine life in Australia, except it’s not the same.    I’m trying my hardest not to get overwhelmed.  Work is somewhat busy, I’m trying to plan a wedding, I’m spending my Saturday’s at house inspections as we are looking for a house to buy, my family is grieving, especially my mother, people around me are being diagnosed with cancer, going through some major relationship stuff, or are just plain caught up in their own lives.  They can’t wait to catch up to tell me all about it.  When I gather the energy to meet up or chat with them, I sit there and I listen, and I offer all I can, but deep down inside, I’m struggling.

Everything feels too much, and yet I’m trying to tackle it all head first with all my energy.  A part of me feels it would be good for me to get out and do things like before, continue my life, yet another part of me wants to stay at home and not leave for a week, distracting myself with writing prompts and the dream world of fiction.  These two parts often clash and end up in a stalemate and not much gets done.

I tell myself, I’m a strong girl, I know alot about emotion, grief, and letting go.  I’m good at processing my emotions, and allowing myself to feel.  And yet at the same time, I am STILL processing my emotions and will be for some time.  That didn’t magically disappear when I arrived back in Australia.  I still have my moments of sadness, grief, and heart ache.  I remind myself I did just lose my father.  Death is the ultimate separation and I am feeling this one.    I’m finding it hard when those moments arise to take time for myself, because a few others around me have it so much harder, so much worse, and I need to be strong for them, help them through their pain as it’s so much greater than mine.   But the only way I’m going to work through mine is by taking time out for me, and find a balance between them and me.

It’s like what they say on the airplane.  “In case of an emergency, airbags will drop from the ceiling above.  Please ensure you put on your own airbag before assisting others.”  We can’t always be of assistance to others until we help ourselves first.

So tonight instead of helping others, I’m taking some time to help myself.  I’m writing how I feel instead of pushing it aside while I try to help others with their feelings.  I’m spending time looking at photos, feeling sad and honouring it.  I’m taking time for me.

Below is a photo of my dad.  It’s the last photo I ever took of him.  I had flown back to Canada for Christmas 5 years ago.  It had snowed and my dad said “Come on Yolanda, let’s go out and make a snowman!”  Feeling jet legged and unused to the cold I resisted, so he went out and built one for me.

The snowman

The snowman

The Freedom to Explore

As I bid summer goodbye and embrace autumn which has slowly seeped it’s way into my life like tea leaves in a cold glass of water, I think back over the summer gone by.  I try to remember it, but it is all hazy like a Hong Kong sky, the memory hidden in a cloak of time.  Summer did not implanted itself into my memory as strongly as past summers gone by. Work was so busy this year, we had no time to travel and explore someplace new like we usually do.   One work day turned into the next and I barely remember when summer started, or when it actually ended.  It made me miss the summers of my past where I had time to be free.  When days were long, nights were warm, and I spent hours and hours outside exploring.

I believe every child should have at least one summer where they are given a safe space to roam free, explore, and truly be a child.  For me that summer was between Grade 6 and 7.  It was the most exciting summer of my childhood.  It planted roots, a foundation for what was to become a huge part of my adult life.  It was an experience that lingered over the rest of my childhood, hovering lightly in the background, quietly reminding me never ever to forget.

I was on the verge of my 12th birthday, still a child, and nowhere near puberty.  My great aunt Yvonne decided to spend the summer in Quebec with her youngest sister, my great Aunt Shirley.  She didn’t want to take the trip alone, so it was decided I would go with her.    I jumped at the opportunity to be able to leave the confines of my small Western Canadian city and travel across Canada and meet my cousins who were close to my age.

With money being tight, Aunty Yvonne and I boarded a Greyhound bus with a ticket to Montreal.  For me, this was the best way to go, because it meant I would get to see the whole country, or at least the parts of it I could see from the Trans Canada highway. We travelled on that bus for 4 days and 3 nights there, and then again on the return trip back.  I saw the tall sharp Rocky mountains, the flat rolling plain-ness of the prairies that went on and on long after I grew bored.  In Ontario we hit low lying sharp craigy mountains and great lakes that seemed as big as oceans.  We drove through Ottawa, the capital of Canada where Auntie woke me up from my uncomfortable slumber to point out the Parliament buildings we were passing by.  In Quebec the land was filled with huge maple trees and a breath taking simple beauty in the moderatly flat landscape , a beauty not found anywhere else in Canada.  We met Auntie Shirley in Magog our final destination, a sleepy town not far from the US border.  I will never forget Magog.  It was the first time in my life I was in a place where I could not communicate as  I had yet to begin learning French in school.  I was completely and utterly mesmerized by the feeling of being somewhere new, somewhere different, somewhere foreign despite it still being Canada.

We drove by car to their cabin on Lake Memphremagog, a lake that is partly in Canada, partly in the US state of Vermont.  It was at this lake, over the course of the month that I had a summer like no other.  My cousin Leanne and I went swimming in the lake, exploring the water, exploring the shore.  We went wondering through the trees, and walked along dirt roads through the surrounding lands.  We played inside old covered bridges and sat in boats and paddled around.  We had campfires at neighbours cabins, roasting marshmallows and signing songs.  We lay on our backs on the dock at night and looked up at the millions of stars, scanning the night sky shooting stars.  I remember there were alot of stary streaks across the night sky that summer.  Each day was so long, the month I spent there seemed to go on forever.

At the end of the month we drove back to Montreal where we stayed in their grand brick house just off Rue St. Catherine.  I remember standing at the front of their tall brick house looking up awe struck.  There was no such thing as a brick house where I grew up.  Leanne and I took the subway into downtown Montreal on a rainy day.  I had never been in a subway before, or out and about in a city without an adult.  Montreal is so cold in winter, they have built underground passageways, shopping centres, which connects to the buildings above to save people from walking outside in the freezing cold.  It was the second big city I had ever been to, Vancouver being the first, and it was so incredibly different.

When I think back to that summer, what I remember most was the sense of wonder, foreignness, being so far from home in such a strange beautiful place,  learning about a new culture, being spoken to in a funny language, eating different foods, and for the first time in my life being free to explore it all in its entirety.    It was one of the most amazing summers and I knew then I had to experience it again sometime in my future.   It planted a seed which grew in my gut.

That little seed turned into an itch, which turned into a very strong desire, which led me to leave Canada at the age of 18 and plunk myself down in rural Japan for a year.  When I was 20 I backpacked through China over a summer, and travelled to Paris.  When even that became not enough, I left Canada for good at the age of 24.  I have never stopped exploring since then, and perhaps I never will.  But one thing is certain.  This world is a remarkable place.  There is so much to see, learn, and do, if only we open our hearts to it, and allow the experience to happen.  My summer on Lake Memphremagog taught me this, and I never forgot.

It is my wish that every child be allowed to be free to explore a totally new place at some point in their childhood, some place foreign and different, yet safe and allowing.   If every child is given this opportunity, how different would this world be?  How many more open and accepting people would there be on this planet?  How much more would we value our world, appreciate the differences, and strive to take care of this planet rather than destroy it.  This I do wonder.

This blog post was written for Free Write Friday and linked up on Kellie Elmore’s blog, Magic in the Backyard – the topic was “Your ONE Amazing Summer” 

What we observe

I don’t know how many times I say to my partner Sam “Did you see….” or “Did you notice…”  The answer about 90% of the time is “What….?”

It has in the past frustrated me at times.  How could he not have noticed?  It was so obvious, everyone saw it! Or so I tell myself.

After what felt like the umpteenth time of Sam simply not noticing, I decide I would try and find out why.  But how do I do this?  It would be simple I realized, I would observe him!

Fast forward to yesterday.  We took Sam’s parents up to the Dandenong hills, about 1 hour drive east of Melbourne City.  I love these hills and dream of living there someday very very soon.  The hills are covered in thick ferny rainforest, with plenty of cockatoos, rosellas, kookaburra’s and many other birds.  Sometimes you can spot the occasional wallaby, or wombat too.

We found ourselves at Grant’s Park in Kallista, part of the Sherbrooke Forest. Grant’s Park attracts tourists from all over the world because of it’s birds.  There is a little souvenir shop at Grant’s Park, and inside you can buy birdseed. After you have paid $4.00 for your tray of bird seed, you can go into a slightly enclosed area where the cockatoos and rosellas land on your tray, on your shoulder or arm to nibble on your bird seed.

I find this fascinating as cockatoos and rosellas usually don’t land on you to eat while you are walking or sitting in any other park.  At least not that I have observed.

So we are in the bird feeding area and I decide to take this as an opportunity to observe Sam.  He is holding the tray of bird seed.  A rosella has landed on the tray and is contently eating.  Another Rosella lands on Sam’s shoulder.  He stands still for a very long time peacefully watching the bird eat with a calm focus.  He doesn’t move at all nor does he look away.  Sam stayed so focused on the task at hand, that I’ll admit I got bored.  It didn’t help that alot of people came and I found my eyes darting around at all the action happening all around me.  All the stories taking place right before my eyes.

There was a cute little German boy in a light blue t-shirt so determined to feed a bird that he would run at the bird the second he saw one and subsequently scare it away.  His mother kept trying to get him to slow down, but he was just too excited. His face lit up like firecrackers the second he saw a stationary bird.

There was an older Chinese man in a brown half suit who kept staying still so that the cockatoo would come closer and closer and then he would quickly reach out and try and touch it. All the while a Chinese woman who was with him kept saying “Ec-cuse me” as she tried to shoo people blocking the way of her camera aimed at the man attempting to touch a bird.

There was an Indian family that came in, a girl of about 7 in a pretty red dress and a boy of 5 in an action cartoon charactered t-shirt.  The boy had alot of aggressive energy in the way he moved and talked, and I wondered why.  I turned at one point and saw him trying to kick a bird, and that got me wondering about the boy for a good 5 minutes.

There was a tall man with a grey bushy beard and round glasses whose wife in a long plain baby blue dress was timid and stayed back as he stuck out his tray to some cockatoos.  When a rosella landed on her shoulder she went into quiet disbelieving shock while he fumbled to get out his camera.  In the process a cheeky cockatoo seized the opportunity to knock over the tray of food.

I could continue to enlighten you with all the many stories, but I will spare you the details.  🙂  I think you get my drift.  I’m an observer.  I see stories everywhere.

Back to Sam for a minute.  There he sat, watching the bird eat, that same rosella with the ruffled and faded red feathers on his head, as if he had a few run in’s with something hard.  Sam probably didn’t move for what felt like an hour, and neither did that bird.

When a tour bus of Mainland Chinese pulled up, I nudged Sam and his parents away.  The place was about to get very crowded.

Later I asked Sam if he noticed the boy who was kicking, or the man with the beard, or the older Chinese man, or the little boy running at birds.  He saw none of it.  In my frustration of wanting to share all the stories with him,  I asked him what did he actually see?  I had my sneaking suspicion after observing him that all he saw was the rosella on his tray and not much else,  He told me he just stood there watching and observing the Rosella on his tray eating and that was about it.  He was so focused on that bird that it soaked up all his attention.  I realized this is why it “feels” like I see everything and Sam sees so little, when in reality this is not the case.  Sam is the kind of person that focuses on what’s in front of him, and gives that his entire energy and attention.  I suppose this is why he can focus on a task for hours on end without stopping, without changing, whereas my attention loves to jump, especially when there are a few things happening.  Can you believe that after more than two years together I only really truly got that about him this weekend? And yet a part of me knew it all along.   Sometimes I think I’m so observant I miss what’s right in front of me.  Hee hee hee

As with all things I like to find a learning in my experiences as I believe this planet and all that occupies it has plenty to teach us.  I had some beautiful realizations with my little exercise and I’d like to share them with you.

I realized that so often we humans want so badly for another human, especially one that we love dearly to relate to us, to get us, to understand us, that when people can’t, or don’t, we get frustrated.  But there will never be the “perfect” human, the kind that sees everything we see, experiences everything we do thus being able to completely relate to us fully and completely.  We are all different, yet we all share fundamental similarities.  We each walk a path, but the steps and directions that we take are all different.  Paths cross, similarities and common occurrences can be found, but we can never truly walk in another person’s shoes for a day.

So what does all this mean for me?  This means first of all, I need to stop asking Sam “Did you see…?”  And start asking him what he observed, what he focused on, and stop assuming he just gets me (and as a result just saw that cool thing that I just saw).  But not just Sam, all humans.  For we all see the world differently, yet we all see the same world.  It’s our differences in observations, in perspectives, in opinions that makes this world so interesting, enticing, and keeps me distracted with all those wonderful stories.  We all have a story to tell, and yet we don’t always stop to hear each others.

Next time you can’t believe someone didn’t see what you just saw, ask them what they did see.  What were they feeling, experiencing in that moment as they observed?  You might learn that they saw something you completely missed.  🙂

A wrong day right

It was one of those days where nothing seemed to go my way, but not just my way, everyone’s way.  One of those Monday’s where everyone in the city wakes up to a dark grey sky, rain pouring down, and would much prefer to roll over and go back to sleep than crawl out of their damp soggy bed’s and make their way through the miserable rain to work.

It was still dark when I slumped out of bed.  Sam continued to snore lightly beside me despite the fact that the alarm had been chattering away at us for the past 40 minutes.  Today is a day that will go down in the history books as Kevin Rudd challenges Julia Gillard for the position of Prime Minister of Australia.   I am reminded of this by Tom & Alex, the two boys who wake me up each morning via the Triple J morning show.  Their voices coming to life and lifting me out of my subconscious state at 6:00am with their bright and sunny Sydney “Morning’s!!” and talk of Gig’s and live shows around the country.  I learn later via a link on Facebook posted by a high school friend in Canada that Kevin Rudd has lost the challenge and Julia Gillard gets to keep her job.

I am hot and sticky but feeling too lazy to have another shower.  Didn’t I just shower before bed last night?  The rain always brings a muggyness to Melbourne that brings back memories of my days in Asia where it was muggy all the time.  I always seem to move through life at half speed when it’s this hot and sticky.   I throw on the first clothes I find that are suitable for work and carry on getting ready.  I feel that since I work in the beauty industry at present, I should at least try and use some of the product I’ve gotten from work and do something about my uncontrollable hair and panda eyes.  Sam has finally become conscious at 7am.  He hears the heavy rain outside and in his half asleep state offers to drive me to the station.  I am grateful for the offer.

The train is more crowded than usual, and the windows have slightly fogged up as we travel fast along the tracks before coming to a complete stop metres from Richmond station.  It seems our train driver was a bit heavy on the throttle and we have caught up to the train in front of us.   We sit there waiting, minutes feeling longer than what they are as the air thickens in the car.  Someone around me smells like half digested cereal, the bar I am holding onto tightly is slightly sticky.  I am relieved to finally get off this train.

At Prahan station I meet a colleague and we get so caught up in our conversation of weekend adventures that we don’t see the looming large puddle.  It’s not until we are ankle deep in the warm water we realize we’ve just walked into a sidewalk swamp.  3 mini swamps later and we have pretty much stopped caring about our soaked feet and laugh when the other steps in yet another brown puddle first.

I walk into the office and sit down at my desk.  The office is hot, even hotter than outside and eerily quiet.  I realize the air conditioner has not been turned on.   I take off my soaked shoes, clean the mud off my feet and start my day barefoot.  I am on my way to the printer only to find it offline. Upon returning to my desk I have learned 3 things.

  1. That the carpet at work is the kind of carpet that little pieces of staples and other sharp things gets easily caught in, and not so easily sucked up by the cleaners nightly vacuuming job.
  2. The carpet is so rough my damp sensitive feet feel like they have rug burn after walking from one end of the floor and back.
  3. My Email has finally loaded and there in my inbox is a message to all staff: due to the aircon being broken, all non-essential IT services running from the over heating server room has been shut down, and this includes the printers.

I pull my feet up to sit cross legged so that nothing more could hurt them, and only leave my desk to fetch myself some lunch at 1:00.

My day continues much the same, as does all of those around me.  We all seemed to accept that today was just one of those days and we left each other be.  My office is normally a bustling busy place with workers darting here and there, and phones ringing constantly.  But today it remained quiet, everyone was in the same solemn weather reflecting mood and we stuck to our desks and didn’t travel far.  The rain continued to fall outside and the sky stayed dark and dreary.

I left work at 5:00 and caught the train to Richmond.  Richmond station was in chaos as part of the power was out on my train line and so they were unable to announce on the overhead screens which train was coming next.  The slightly hoarse announcer was announcing as quickly as he could which stations the express trains were stopping at as they pulled up.  While I waited for a train that stops at Surrey Hills the screens continued to be black and unhelpful.  Most express trains don’t stop at Surrey Hills, but when they do, they are crammed full with everyone squeezing into the front two carriages so that they don’t have far to walk when they get off, especially when it’s raining like today.

I am back to back, bottom to bottom with a girl, shoulder to shoulder with two others, and my handbag I am tightly clinging onto is digging into the back of the man in front of me in a red pin stripped shirt.  I can’t move.  He is tall, so tall I can only see is his shirt.  I notice the white has faded, it is not a new shirt.  I smell someone’s breath, sweat, and the hot dampness of the carriage.  We are ploughing along when all of a sudden the train comes to a fast and sharp halt and we all gasp while flying forwards and land on each other.  This is followed by urgent shuffling and muttered sorry’s.  Australian’s are a polite lot, in Asia people would accept that it just couldn’t be helped and focus on getting back upright.  We hit the jagged tracks at Burnley and we are hurdled right, then left, then right again.  At Camberwell we are thrown in all directions.  My right foot lands on something, an elbow digs sharply into my side and someone’s high heel lands on my left toe.  I am glad my damp shoes are thick and not open-toed.  As we recover ourselves by shuffling our bodies off of each other, we are able to get a glimpse of each other for the briefest of a moment.  An Asian woman gives a slight chuckle, another smiles at her reaction, we are all glimpsing around at each other at the same time as we shift and move, while the train sways and we all have the same “It’s one of those days, it’s been non-stop all day, there is absolutely nothing we can do to change it, and we’ve plain and simply just accepted it” look.

I realized that normally on a train that crowded, I hear grumbling, complaining, huffs of impatience, or annoyance.  But today my cramped train car was quiet just as my office was.  Sometimes days are just so miserable and dreary, that the mood of it all settles over the whole city like a soothing blanket, and we all accept it without much fuss or complaint as just another part of life, and get on with our lives.  So much today went wrong, and yet it all felt acceptably right.