27 September 2016
I’m lying in a tent in a jam packed Kalbarri caravan park. It rained not long after we arrived, taking the small town’s temporary occupants by surprise. Today was sort of long and sort of not. We drove up from Jurien Bay, stopping at Dongara for fuel, Geraldton for lunch, roadside for photos taken standing atop the roaring ute’s cab for a clearer view.
I find being in transit such a strange act – to start the day in one place and end it in another. My brain is always full of what ifs and moments of fascination – what if we stayed there, how are all these other people experiencing the same place as us, what would this be like if I weren’t here? I can’t help but to wonder.
But I am here. The ocean is roaring close by and a magpie is warbling even though it’s close to midnight. Anything that sounds like human movement outside my tent sends my heart racing. I’m not sure when I allowed these moments of fear to become real.
I spent so much of today in the back of a car, wishing it was possible to go back in time, counting forward the days between now and Italy.
I read an article not long after we left, as the ute heaved itself North, about why it’s so easy to fall in love when we’re abroad. They say it’s because we’re more open to things, because we face a lot of positive stress on the road, because we don’t feel constrained by the usual space we occupy at home.
That’s the draw for me. The freedom to be the person I intend to be, a vision I can’t seem to live out at home.
It’s not about falling in love, or reinventing myself, or running away. It’s about escaping constraints that are so easy to fall into – even when I’m fighting them like never before.
I count 70 days until my feet are standing on Italian soil. I think of the smell of winter streets, of le pasticcerie e salumerie e gelaterie. I think of the friends I’ll see, a few who I miss so much it hurts.
I think of the photos favourited on my phone – family and friends in faraway lands smiling back at me. I wonder how long it will be until I see them all again, and wish they were here now.
I snap out of it as the ute lurches forward with a gear change. And suddenly I’m back to where I am. In a beat-up Toyota with two pretty wonderful people, alien landscapes filled with yellow flowers to our left and to our right as the highway escapes behind us.
I think of sing-a-longs, of shooting stars, of sunset hikes and cook ups. I think of sitting in the sun, in silence or conversation, of country bakery visits and food shopping expeditions. I think how silly it is to wonder what this would be like if I weren’t here, because I am.
Pentax K1000 | Kodak Portra 160 + Kodak Colourplus 100
Locations of note:
North West Coastal Highway & a sweet side street in Rome
[Updated 1 August 2017]