northern rivers 2015 (the tourist)

that's an order

For GK's 50th birthday, I had suggested a trip to the Northern Rivers area. I had also suggested Darwin, as GK is nostalgic about the time he spent there when he was just getting established in his work. GK thought that the time of year wasn't the ideal time to get the full benefit of Darwin, and plus, in the planning stages we weren't yet sure if I'd get a passport. Northern Rivers is only a couple of hours away by car, and seemed like an ideal option. It's known as the hippie capital of Australia, and at heart, GK is pretty much a hippie.

When I returned from Melbourne, I was completely out of control, and I couldn't find any way to put the brakes on. I lost all sense of why anything like that might be important. I just let myself slide.

Somehow, though, I managed to focus well enough to get out the door for GK's birthday trip. I couldn't make any promises about how much I'd be willing or able to do, but we did end up covering most of what was planned. We did have help.. I had contacted someone who blogs extensively about the area, and she offered many helpful suggestions. I think GK enjoyed his trip very much, but I probably shouldn't speak for him. He has a lot of fantastic photos, as usual. With one exception, I will use mine for this entry, and leave it up to him as to whether he wants to post something himself about this trip. So, this is just going to be the usual kind of Xesce thing..

tip of the iceberg

It was a bit of a shock to hit Byron Bay. Everywhere, there were signs like the ones that had dismayed me in Sydney. Do this, don't do that. You can't park at the beach or anywhere else without having to pay, etc.

It had been cold in the house when we headed out, but when we reached Byron, it was warm, and everyone was in shorts or summer clothes. I was wearing a black dress and black tights, and I felt really conspicuous, but it would have been too awkward to try to use a public restroom to try to change (or would have cost extra for parking), and we had a few hours to kill before we could sign into our accommodation.

We headed to the Byron Market, and although at first it was difficult to get used to the sunlight and all the people, we managed to buy some things for a picnic the next day, as well as a hat and t-shirt for GK, and a few colourful clothes for me.

I did something a bit unusual.. I bought clothes in colours I don't usually buy. I bought a purple tie-dyed skirt ($19), a dark purple sleeveless top ($10), a silver and purple bangle ($13), and a colourful hippie-ish red sleeveless top (other bright colours were mixed into the pattern with red). I wore purple for GK's birthday.

broken head beach

On the second day, we took a drive down Possum Creek Road, and from there kept exploring. Later on in the day, we found this 'cove' which we had all to ourselves. This was something I had been needing. We first had to get past all the beaches where you have to pay for parking and whatnot. I went in up to my knees. This is just a simple kind of thing, and GK can't really relate to it, but I do have a thing for the sea. It seemed to me that for hours afterward, my feet and legs were sort of tingling in a very pleasant kind of way. It might still have been a bit cold for regular swimming, but perhaps if I had been there a bit longer I would have been curious to try.

my room

Our accommodation was really cool. I would have liked to have given our host better feedback, but I don't speak well on the spot, and I am not registered as a member of AirBnB - GK booked the rooms and I paid him back for mine. I found it difficult to register with AirBnB because they ask you to submit a photo, and also profile info. They are hoping for people who are a bit more socially adept or forthcoming than I am. They have a lot of the most unique properties, so possibly eventually I will bite the bullet and join, but for this one I let GK take the bullet.

The location was very central, and we could walk to many places, and yet, the grounds were not the kind of thing you'd usually expect so close to a town's core. The garden was an eclectic mix of arty objects, and had more of an out-of-town feel.

There was less privacy than I'd normally seek out - there were long windows that exposed the toilet and showering and tub areas, and even when I covered these over with towels and a picnic blanket, there were cracks through the wooden boards that made up the 'walls'. But.. I don't think I would want this to change to accommodate people like me. I think it was better that I challenged myself to get out of my comfort zone, in order to have a more unique experience. The host did want to know how to make the experience better for guests, but I think the place is already what I was looking for.

I think it's possible the host picked up that I was anxious, but maybe interpreted it as me being uncomfortable with the accommodation or him, personally.. the thing is that daylight is difficult for me. I'm a vampire, and to do this trip, I had to be up and about in daylight hours with GK. I would come out of my room, and sometimes the host, or another guy working on the property there would talk to me, and I would feel like some rotting vampire that needed to get back into my crypt. Sunlight is just so fucking bright, and seems so unnatural to me, and even attempting to wear some bright colours and sunglasses still doesn't really help all that much. It's hard to talk in such circumstances. In Melbourne, the labyrinth feels more natural, it's easier for me to cope with in daylight.

But.. I think it was 'just right' for GK's 50th birthday celebration, I think it's good that I ventured out of my comfort zone, and that I picked the best possible accommodation for a Northern Rivers experience.

more of the surrounding property where we stayed

GK has a lot of great pictures, but I want to try to keep it to mine for this entry. However, I didn't take a picture of his room, and it might be good to include a photo in this entry:

photo of gk's room by gk

His room was called The Boat Shed, while mine was called Beach Studio. Both of our rooms and the artwork on the property were created/designed by artist David Bromley. There was a big wire elephant in the garden, and a few bunnies here and there, with a boardwalk connecting rooms with the main house and other parts of the garden. There is also a big silver caravan on the property.

to the lighthouse, and the waves

On GK's birthday, we walked up to the lighthouse, for a while along the beach, and then through an inland path that was fairly steep. We had a fairly sad excuse for a map, which we had paid a dollar for at the Info centre, which was largely responsible for us getting lost and walking further than we originally intended. Once we finally found the path, it seemed to keep going up and up, and the weird thing is that I barely broke a sweat even though it was a hot day and I was wearing a big pack. I was surprised. I hadn't been doing so much exercise aside from walking in some time, I'd spent more than 4 weeks eating a lot of fat and sugar, drinking tons of alcohol, and coffee, not doing my toning exercises and pilates.. but yes, that walk was not at all difficult for me, and I know I could have coped with something considerably more challenging.

On the walk, we saw a massive goanna, the biggest one I have ever seen, and we also saw an echidna.

Obviously, my weight has increased through all of this, and at present I guess I'm now technically a 'healthy' weight again, although it seems to me with all the fat, sugar, alcohol, coffee I'm less healthy than I was when my weight was 5 kg less. [I weighed myself before this trip, and I was still slightly 'underweight', but I am thinking that I have now crossed the line into 'healthy' again. Ha.]

a byron bay sign that made me smile

Honey was $6 AUD for a kilo. We picked up various foods here and there. As mentioned earlier, we had a guide who helped us plan our trip and check out markets, and we also found some things ourselves.

Was I trying to fit in? There are many women of a certain age who are slim, look like they do yoga and meditate, and dress kind of hippie- ish, but modern. Around such women, perhaps at times I could blend in, but I think side by side, it would be easy to figure out that I'm not the real deal - I'm a tourist. But is it an option? Could I cultivate this look? Could I belong in a place like this? Let my natural hair acquire some grey highlights, and just flow long? Get a tan? Wear hats, but not just black - make an effort to find more unusual patterns and colours? Is that how it's done? Even with weight gain, to try to wear certain types of flowing and colourful clothes?

There's so much pressure to be 'healthy' in certain ways there. I don't at all mean that everyone is perfectly healthy and has no 'bad habits' or anything like that.. what I mean is that there is a kind of agreement maybe about how health is approached or what it means to be positive and open to change - and I do from my teen years and early 20s have a certain amount of background with all the New Age philosophies. Even when people have different methods and philosophies, there's maybe still a range that they fall into, and maybe I feel like I fall out of the range. But.. I realize that at first glance, I just seem like another wannabe. Not as thin, not as fit, not as Natural, not as well-versed in the philosophies and lingo. Perhaps I come across as someone who is just refusing to see how much she really has in common with everyone else.. but there's something about context that's missing for me. When I catalogue my experiences in various places, why am I doing it? What am I aiming at? I do it in part as a coping mechanism, yes, but it is not a statement of commmitment to my life. I experience a kind of distress beneath the cataloguing that I do not want to continue. I don't know how it all can continue, but I don't think I'm being obstinate or blind in refusing to accept and cherish my life as is. In describing my experiences, listing them, and trying not to gloss over the underlying distress and despair, I am hoping in some way to connect, and to find some way out. I do not accept my situation. I will not live a life of quiet desperation in order to make things easier for others, and to keep the peace.

And I know that there is no real security in life, and that for most people, happiness is not a constant, and that even occasional contentment can be difficult to come by, and meanwhile, there is so much life to fill, and people struggle through as best they can. They learn to appreciate the people and things that make it a little more bearable, and they come to know themselves well enough not to try to change the things they can't change, but rather to accept things and keep going, while keeping the complaints to a minimum.

Something was said to me that has sort of stuck in my mind. It relates to what it means to be treasured. I do not feel treasured in the ways I want to be treasured. And when it comes to GK, I want him to be fully treasured. I want him to have what I can't give him.

I think he is more likely to find that kind of thing (he has more of a chance, there is more 'demand' for someone like him than me), but he's less assertive or takes less initiative.

byron bull

In many places, philosophies related to simplicity were expressed. Try not to have more, but to be more. You can enjoy life with much less than you think. Etc. And yet.. it did seem that when businesses expressed these philosophies, the businesses themselves were not really all that simple. A restaurant which grew food it served had arranged the garden aesthetically, but not 'simply' or in ways that made the most sense, and was selling $3000 artworks. And the items on the menu were sorta reminiscent of a multitude of menus out there, using the ingredients that are in fashion, selling the dishes that 'those in the know' are on the lookout for, or that have high foodie appeal..

And in many of the stores that looked 'authentic' (even in small towns, like Nimbin), I saw clothing and objects I had seen online on eBay and other places, mass-produced in China, etc.

I probably can't live simply. Even when I make an effort to do so, the effort is so extensive that it can hardly be judged 'simple'. In many ways, I am drawn to minimalism, but in the overall sense it is probably not realistic for me. I am not really drawn to collect a lot of possessions, but I do still struggle a lot in just figuring out what to wear. I keep thinking that maybe once I figure it out, after that it will always be more simple, and once I am more comfortable it will from there be easier to communicate, but.. throughout my life it has always been difficult.

dinner at the three blue ducks (the farm)

Vegetarian options at The Three Blue Ducks. Above: greens with black garlic and chestnuts, and buckwheat risotto with pickled beets and sprouted legumes. (Highly recommended: the risotto - but the combination of the 4 dishes we had was colourful, and I'd get it all again.)

three blue ducks dinner

Kipfler potatoes (with goat curd, ghee, confit yolk and puffed amaranth) and corn on the cob with manchego. I liked both, but when it comes to the corn, although I do like manchego, I'm not sure it was needed here - the bbq flavour of the corn was already quite good.

three blue ducks dessert

Blue cheese ice cream (!) with pear, honeycomb and crunchy nut snaps. I probably didn't really need dessert, but I just found the idea of blue cheese ice cream so weird I 'had to' try it. The blue cheese flavour wasn't very powerful, and it did combine with the other elements well.

three blue ducks dessert

Chocolate ganache with cumquats and toasted rye ice cream.

I wanted to know what a cumquat was like. This dessert was ok, but I've had so many desserts in the last month or so that it's getting pretty hard to impress me.

l'ultime birthday degustation for gk

For GK's birthday, we had the desserts pictured above (from L'Ultime patisserie), and for dinner we went to The Treehouse. We met up with fellow possum fans we'd only had (a small amount of) contact with online. I am trying to remember if GK and I have ever had dinner with anyone other than members of his family before. At the wedding, yes, but aside from that? I thought he did very well.. he was able to talk about many topics, and those listening had interest and background in those topics. For dinner we shared various vegetarian things: honey- roasted pear thing, vegetables with grilled haloumi and soft tortilla, and a Portobello Road pizza. I enjoyed trying each of the dishes, and probably the pizza was my favourite.

As for me.. I had the same problem I usually do. I can't wear off enough nervous energy to get conversation a little more off the surface. I make mistakes I'd like to correct after, I maybe smile a little too much, and don't think well enough in the moment. And I felt like a tourist.

But.. this trip was about GK, and for GK. I already had had Melbourne. I think this was the right trip for GK's 50th birthday. GK fit in better than I did, but I still found the experience significant, and good for me.

I feel very lonely. I feel like in any group, if you sing the Sesame St song, 'one of these things just doesn't belong here', it's always going to be me, but at the same time, in many groups, at first glance I will usually seem like the most 'conforming' specimen, and this is part of the confusion. I want to get to the part where communication goes further, gets much, much less safe, and it's not that I'm shy about that sort of thing, but it's that I no longer have any realistic expectation it will ever get there. I am not patient enough to wait years, when experience tells me that the years themselves are not a guarantee it will ever get there.

I don't know where I'm going from here. My plan is to finish my current entries, and try to think about where to go next. Maybe I will write, in a different style. Maybe I will collapse and clam up for a few years.

I don't know. Consciously, it seems to me that I should try to figure out how to relocate to Melbourne, how to stand up for choosing that option. But I am not sure I am being realistic or smart about it. How well do I really know myself? Am I strong enough to live there? I have no connections or support system there, even though I am more independent and can do more for myself. Would I just get drunk every day? Would I only be able to find a soul-less highrise apartment (in my price range)? But.. location, location, location.. and, I probably do have some ability to decorate a box in a cute way. The feeling.. of wandering.. it's different to what it's like to plan a trip for GK, and sit in the car and be driven around.

my lasagna: sweet potato, pumpkin, spinach, mushrooms

Since I returned, I have been drunk every day. I get up, and might first bake something (I've made chocolate chip cookies, vanilla cupcakes with thick pink swirly icing, and honey-vanilla-macadamia cheesecake, a lemon cake), b/p, shower and then start drinking, and continue on drinking until I pass out at night. I've also put some effort into making 'nice' dinners. For a while, maybe while travelling, I could see myself as a certain type of liberal, arty woman, drinking a glass of wine in a restaurant, having a glass of wine with a meal in a beautiful apartment, and maybe this is associated with the idea that if I look 'elegant' or alternative enough, I will be of interest, and find people to talk to, maybe those who are interested in why people think, feel and behave as they do. But how elegant is it if that sort of behaviour is not natural for me, and the reality is that before long, I move into drinking not one glass of wine, but two bottles, and I eat not one dessert in a month, but a few in a day, and end up needing to pad this out with various other foods, and then vomiting? How elegant or intriguing is that picture? How in my position can I find people who are interested enough to talk to me beyond the safe, structural conversation that just automatically kicks in for most people? (Even when discussing 'controversial' topics.. people still seem to find ways to be 'safe'..) ..before I withdraw and bar the doors?

Is this out of control part of the pattern based on something physiological and chemical, or is it based on something psychological, or a combination of both? As far as the psychological, I think it might be a kind of outward expression of panic: I have been out in the world, and I do not 'trust the universe to take care of me' - there are a lot of people it's not doing such a good job with, and when I'm out there, I can't fail to recognize this.

But, it does seem more likely to me that something physical is going on, something that is extremely difficult to override without help. And that might actually require understanding what is happening in more detail - and it doesn't really seem possible that at present we can accurately measure this sort of thing, although we can speculate. The other thing is that in spite of the moments of extreme discomfort/pain, and the panic in relation to being out of control, and the loss of self-esteem in relation to being out of control, my looks and body being affected, etc, there are moments of peace and relaxation, and probably a sense of enjoyment in allowing the extreme. I 'need' more than most people do. I am trying to satisfy my needs in my own way. Maybe there's no other way for me to have access to or get closer to the 'sweet stuff' in life, the intensity, the thrill of being alive.

I haven't been ready to write anything. I've been watching movies. I'm trying to honestly think about what to do next, what I want, what else there could be, while accepting that my conscious will might not match up with my actual ability.

When you can't connect to the world through family, friends, hobbies, work, or even ideas, the search for meaning becomes more brutally random.

->exile on meme st: a diary