(Link to Traveling Girl 1 – published October 3, 2010)
How many places in the world were there? Surely there was a place where she could be happy? This God forsaken blight on the planet, lost in time and humanity, on the west coast of nowhere was not the place for her. How many towns had gravel instead of grass on their footy fields? How many towns had a pub on every corner? How many towns were as full of people who didn’t really want to be here as this place?
It had not been a good six months. Foolish liaisons yet again – would she never learn? Friendships that were based on the slippery surface of proximity. A job that was neither wonderful nor terrible but not fulfilling either. Not much chance for literature and writing here: Friday nights in the pub, Saturdays at the Laundromat, Sundays preparing and marking. And so many grey days full of rain and clouds. Oh, what a gothic place to be, as miserable as any Bronte novel – weather within as bad as weather without.
And naturally with her spirits so blighted she’d terribly been sick – bronchitis moving into pneumonia it felt – so she went home for two weeks to be in a familiar place, if not a familiar bed, and contemplated her future. Two years, the conventional wisdom went, before she could return to her sweet riverside hometown. But would she survive that long? All parts of life were failing and she had lost her faith in the future. She had not written a thing and she was neither an inspiring teacher nor inspired by the profession.
In August a telegram came. A position in the farthest place on the continental mass to the north of her insular island home: a chance to change her destiny. She demurred only a second, only a moment to check with a friend about life up there: all good, it’s all great, her friend confirmed, go, you must go. She accepted the job, made arrangements and delivered her resignation with joy to her less than supportive principal. Well, he’d never liked her much, nor had taken the trouble to disguise it, so how could she not delight in telling him (metaphorically at least) to stuff his poxy job.
Her father, of course, could not help himself and after the initial acceptance rang back to lambast her decision and impress upon her the foolishness of giving up a safe career in the Tasmanian Teaching Service. She laughed, at the horrific image conjured by that thought and by her father’s naïve belief that he could change her mind. It was simple, Nhulunbuy could not be worse than Queenstown. And if it was she would wear it.
She listened to the Eurogliders and felt a renewal of hope, a burst of sunshine in her deep mid-winter.
I’m tired of living in the sand
I’m searching for a better land
Heaven must be there
Well it’s just got to be there
I’ve never -never seen Eden
I don’t want to live in this place
I want to find a better place
I’m searching for a better place (Heaven, 1984)
It was because she had already unhooked from home that this move was so easy to make. Had she still been in Hobart, had her mother not so thoughtlessly died, she would never have gone. But the thread was broken – there was nothing substantial or real to keep her here. All she’d made was a mess, so why remain?
She packed her worldly goods, shipped off a few boxes and her car, loaded her cats into their travel box and hitched a lift with her brother home to catch the plane to take her to the rest of her life.
She did not look back with longing or regret as they wound out of the hills from that depressed, weatherboarded, close-minded mining town. Nor did she hesitate for a moment as she walked to the plane three days later.
She took a window seat on the right of the plane, so she could watch her country unfurl below her as she travelled inexorably from one life to the next. Nervous, but not unnerved. She did not know it, but maybe she sensed it: if the move to Queenstown had set her free, this was the move to begin her life, remake it as she wanted it to be.
(Images from Google-images.) Please note: All opinions here are entirely personal and subjective and in no way objectively represent any place mentioned in this blog.