Last Thursday night, as I was lying on the couch near death, Joel made a smart decision. A wickedly smart decision. He started up his computer, told me to cancel all our weekend plans and booked two nights away in the quietest, peaceful-est, nothing-going-on-ist town he could find. Wooli, it turned out to be, where there is nothing to do but nothing. Where there lives a small cottage called a “Writer’s Retreat”, nestled right behind rolling sand dunes. Where there are stretches of beach with no one on them. Where a bowls club, a post office, a school, and a petrol station constitutes a town. Where a four-hour drive south would finally land us.
“It’s how far?”, I asked Joel.
“Four hours”, he said. “But I could probably get us there in three and a half.”
I don’t know about you, but the thought of a four-hour drive with an active infant and very tired parents was a little frightening. To me, it did not spell fun. It spelled dread. Not wanting to appear ungrateful, I bit back several are you out of your freaking mind’s and did the only thing I could think of. I made a road trip scavenger hunt. Not only to keep us from falling asleep, but to keep Ella from losing her eggs all throughout our very confined car. The Super Amazing Road Trip Scavenger Hunt, actually.
We got in the car tired, stressed and frayed at the edges. Short comments were passed between us… the kind that signified the close proximity of our breaking points. But then, we turned up the volume and hit play to this song, and everything started to get better. (Play it while you read friends, it’ll be so much better.) We played it over and over again and sang at the top of our lungs and the city soon faded away to big open spaces and red dirt and the great expanse of Australian country which I love. It just feels like home to me. Lush fields whipped past, cows and horses roaming freely in the golden afternoon light. Gum trees grew high and a clouds of red dirt filled our rear view mirrors as our tyres whipped across the country road and left a burst of dust telling where we’d been. It was the fastest, funnest road trip, and we ticked everything off our list except the purchase of my new pair of shoes.
And by the way, there was a horse in that field of green. Plus, you might not be able to tell, since that freakish painting of a girl kind of draws all the attention, but next to her is a painted flower. I promise. Number plate reads RAD, and ice cream/chocolate croissant. Same, same.
We, strangely, stayed in a little cottage with a surf break right out front, but I’m sure that’s not the reason Joel booked it. I’m sure his priorities were spending time with his family. Certain of it.
*I’ve never seen the man run faster in my life
We woke up to golden light streaming through our window. We ate passion fruits straight off the vine. We spent mornings on top of sand dunes and walking along empty beaches. We spent afternoons by the water while a backdrop of rocky cliff edges surrounded us, drawing us in, shielding us somehow, like a protective embrace.
We ate oysters on green, lush headlands overlooking miles and miles of ocean.
We took afternoon naps.
We stopped in pretty little places simply to be with each other.
On the drive down, there were countless rest stops ordering instructions to STOP REVIVE SURVIVE , and while they were obviously referring to long distance driving, I couldn’t help but think we should have signs like that in our neighbourhoods, too. Right outside our front doors, in fact. Like Anne Lamott said, the truth is that we’re all up to our necks in it, and the best we can do is not scream at each other. We seem to reach breaking points at a scarily rapid rate these days. At least, I do. The point in my life when I can’t afford the time or effort it takes to pack everything up and get away is the exact time I should. Because filling my soul and my heart with the good stuff renews me like nothing else. And just by doing nothing, I get everything back.
Besides, now that I’ve returned with renewed energy, I can finally get round to sorting my house out.