It’s a five-minute distance between the trains and where I work, but most of the time the walk feels thrice as long. I am much too easily tired these days. July was hot and winding, August long and ominous. Everything made landfall early September, it feels. Like waves ceding to gravity ashore, everything found their culmination and resumption at the cusp of the month.
Writing has been increasingly difficult. The span between arriving in Sydney and this moment on my bed feels like a bottleneck: plenty of stories wanting out, none making it through.
There is so much to tell. About the plane trip – the plane trip was an exercise in switching off. It took all of eight hours or so to remind myself I was on holiday, not a project. Forget the deadlines, my heart bent against my subconscious. Forget, forget.
I want to tell you how Sydney looked from the windows as the train pulled in. The absence of shiny skyscrapers bled disappointment into my ignorance. I was so quick to write things off, to make false sweeping generalisations about the metro’s Saturday morning streets. The following day, after frolicking at the Botanical Gardens and taking a dozen selfies by the Opera House and ferrying past the Harbour Bridge, I knew I was unraveling. I want to tell you how I warmed up to the city I previously had little interest in visiting, apart from Hillsong.
Sunday looked like a this: a walk from Sydney Central down to the Harbourfront, then back through Chinatown all the way to Redfern. Monday, Conference Day One: striking conversation with two latecomers, and finding friends for the rest of the five-day event. Tuesday, the eve of my 24th birthday: I laid curled up on the upper bunk in an eight-girl dorm, trying not to wake a soul.
Saturday, the day after the conference, the evening after seeing the expanse of the Blue Mountains: a fellow traveler from Bristol and I shared conversation through the lavender-orange-violet haze. We talked as it transitioned to navy, dotted with constellations, as it deepened to black while we sailed on the Parramatta River.
When I landed back home, I said yes to everything, everyone. We took long bus rides and tried new coffee and discussed books being read. We swam in Olympic-sized pools and partied past the last trains, before watching the last buses pull out. We devoured pulled pork barbecue sandwiches and bacon in poached eggs. We attended seminars; laid out blueprints for the near future. We rode bikes till our legs hurt and beyond. We rehearsed dance numbers and practiced harmonies, and traded jazz and sleepy songs like prayers for strangers. We assembled paper directories and gave out hugs.
Last Saturday, I burned the side of my finger working the spout of a coffee machine. The pain was searing, but not nearly as loud as the bliss over making cup after cup of crap coffee (that I was convinced would eventually improve). The next day I visited the place of my old high school. Most things at the MTR station remained in place: the 7-Eleven, Dr. George’s Clinic, the benches. I stopped where the mall ended, then made all the turns and exits to find the cafe I had read about.
I want to tell you I’ve been feeling loved, and valued, and also sometimes shunned and inconsequential. I want to tell you it’s been wonderful feeling blessed, but that even in blessing Jesus reminds us we already have Him, the only One that could truly fill us bottom to brim.
There is so much I want to say.
This morning I walked from Central to Sheung Wan, alighting a stop earlier on the train just so I could while away time in motion. Going home, I walked from Sheung Wan to Central. From IFC I took the longer route underground, from the Tung Chung Line to the Chai Wan Line, instead of crossing the bridge to Central station.
I am tired not because I walked all that length; I walked all that length because I am tired and distance is relieving. When the journey is short my mind travels farther; it takes a lot out of me to stop and forget, forget. When I travel longer, my mind sojourns in tandem with my feet, and I am where I am.
When I am moving, I push against the walls of my lungs. I heave out of its greatest capacity. I want to tell you a story, but first I want to breathe. I am much too easily tired these days, but it could equally be that I am just as forgetful of the moments I am filled with energy. The moments I am not the least bit conscious of the self that is fully engaged, and living.