essentials

by elizestrydom

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Friday February 8th

Sitting by our fire in the middle of nowhere, just Kayleigh and me. We ate a vegie curry and sipped red wine out of mugs. Before dinner we went for a dip in the creek. I waded in gingerly, getting used to the squishy mud beneath my toes, before striking out and letting the cool water envelope me. The trek in was a bit of a struggle with our hiking packs full to the brim and my awkward basket full of fruit, vegies, bread, chocolate, nuts and that bottle of red that kept rolling out. I wore my RMs but the leather sole was slippery and I had to tread carefully down the steep, rocky hills so as not to topple over. But now we’re here, lying on our backs by the fire: tummies full, bodies resting, minds letting go. It’s so quiet and the night sky so vast. My thoughts just wandered to a dark place and imagined all that could go wrong and the harm that could befall us. We’re safe because we’re hidden in the middle of nowhere yet we’re at risk because we’re hidden in the middle of nowhere.

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Saturday February 9th

We slept in our little tent for ten hours. TEN HOURS. I cannot even remember the last time that happened. Back in the city I struggle to switch off my mind for more than seven. There’s always something I should get up and do; an email to reply to, an appointment to keep, a run to go on. But here, nothing.

So we woke up slowly and crawled out of the tent. Kayleigh set to work boiling water and preparing our bircher muesli, I sliced a pomegranate and popped all of its juicy red seeds. We munched our muesli and sipped our peppermint tea and thought about the day ahead. Two men in a tinny dropped in and told us about a waterfall about a kilometre upstream. That captured out imaginations and so we set off wearing only our swimmers and sandals. We waded and bush bashed and forged a path where there was no path. My fear of snakes threatened to stop me in my tracks but I shook my head, ‘NO!’ as if physically banishing the thought.  After about 20 minutes we came to a section of bush so dense, full of thickets and tangled trees, that we decided to turn around and try our luck in the other direction. The blokes in the tinny also mentioned a beach about five kays downstream so the thought of a secluded section of seaside spurred us on (and on). We talked as we walked and stopped to fall into the creek whenever the heat got too much. Kayleigh and I lived in the same town when we were kids but lost touch when I moved away and went to uni so there was lots to catch up on. We spoke of many things; our time spent growing up in Grafton, Kayleigh’s travels to South America and Africa, our jobs, the single life, confusing boys and The Future. There were stretches of silence, too. We took in our surrounds, sucked in the thick air and let the feeling of being alone together settle in our souls.

Now back at the campsite we’ll spend the afternoon reclining, reading, writing and staring at the sky. I can’t quite believe the clarity of my thoughts and how at peace I feel.

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Later…

Once again we’re sprawled out on the grass, looking up into the night, our fire crackling away and counteracting the slight chill in the air. I’m alternating between my book and you, dear journal. We dined on corn roasted in the coals and had toasted marshmallows for dessert. Happy hour started early so we’re out of red wine. While we waited for our dinner to cook we chucked a tennis ball back and forth. Who knew such a simple act could be so satisfying? Just on dusk I had a solo swim in the creek. I floated on my back and gazed up at the trees feeling so whole and nourished. I longed for that moment to last and for the anxiety and uncertainty and sadness that often floods my mind to drift away for good. I felt like my real self; like I could hold my essence in my hands. Tomorrow we’ll hike out of here and back to our lives in the city. We keep joking that while we’ve been here, in the bowels of the bush, Sydney will have been invaded, Tomorrow When The War Began style. I kinda wish that was true; I’m not ready to leave this place.

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