Birthdays are a good time to take stock of things. And to drink champagne. This week, out in the outback where there is not much to do other than 4WD along river beds, swim in waterholes, take long bush walks and drink in outback pubs (as in, some of my favourite things to do) – I have had a lot of time to think, drink bubbles and be inspired by quotes in artsy fonts on pastel backgrounds, as I am about to turn another year older.
When I turned 30, I was married, had a one year old daughter and another ginormous bubba on the way, we had just bought our first house in the inner west paying skyrocketing interest rates, and I was working 80-90 hour weeks doing my best to scramble up the corporate ladder. Kicking life goals all over the place – well, other than the fact I spent my 30th stone cold sober due to the whole being preggas thing.
Last year’s birthday – I could have said the same thing – more kids, bigger house (and way bigger mortgage), higher up the corporate ladder – AND I drank veuve – tons of it. Tick, tick, tick, massive tick. If I had predicted last year where I would be at (close to) 40, I would have thought we would still be “on track” – debt, career, over scheduled and over achieving inner west kids.
But this week as I turn, let’s say, a year in the late 30s but still a few years from 40 – we are so far off that track. No house, no jobs, no schools, no schedules, we live in a glorified tent on wheels – I am drinking bubbles but it is definitely not veuve (in fact it only has bubbles because I poured some soda water into the cheap white to slightly dilute the cheapness).
We have climbed Mt Kosciusko, swum with dolphins, eaten freshly caught (by the hubby) squid and crayfish, spent a substantial portion of the proceeds of the sale of our house at wineries, floated down gorges and canyons, driven the Oodnadatta track, ridden camels, had visits from dingoes, wild horses, snakes, kangaroos, emus and wombats, and we are about to live at Uluru for a month so the hubby can get paid to ride Harleys.
I am browner and skinnier than ever – as in, I am a few shades darker than my former office pastiness, and I am not so much skinny, but rather I have taken to wearing elasticised shorts and so I suddenly fit into everything with amazing ease and comfort. And as my wise father-in-law once told me “once you go lacky, you never go backy”. True.
So, at 37, life is pretty good. (Hey, I don’t turn 38 for two whole days – and I never round up when it comes to age).
Have I failed? Given up George Constanza style and taken to a life of sweatpants?
I don’t think so (other than the stretchy shorts bit) – but I have redefined what success means to me (and as a lawyer I am all about manipulating definitions). If I had stayed “on track” in my 38th year, I would have had more deals, more debt, less sleep – so what? I know life on the road isn’t forever, and that one day I’m sure I will wake up in an achieving mood again. But veering off track is way more enjoyable at the moment. Is that defeatist? Perhaps – but if in defeat I am relaxed, tanned, wearing comfy shorts, hanging out with the fam and drinking bubbles, then I am okay with that. And as another wise man once said…
And what I am sure a wise lady must have said..
Seeing more of our beautiful life
When the kids aren’t fighting, nagging for food or begging for another Ed Sheeran song*, they sometimes come out with some pearlers.
I was walking back from the bathroom in an bush camp the other night with Mae, my 9 year old daughter. It was dark and the sky was chock full of stars. Mae looked up and said “I’m starting to think maybe Sydney isn’t the only good place. I have never seen stars like this, it’s so amazing. I really like being here. My bed in Sydney was way more comfy, but I like seeing these stars even if I have to sleep on the ground”. Aw…
And then a few days ago we went for a long walk along a dry river bed and after an hour or so came to a waterhole in the Redbank Gorge. It was stunning but shady and quite cold. Leo (my 7 year old son) and the hubby jumped in and swam across to the other side and then Leo said he wanted to keep swimming down the gorge. The hubby asked why, wasn’t he too cold? And Leo said “because I want to see more of my beautiful life”.
Tear, sniff – from the mouths of ratbags hey? It sums up pretty perfectly what we are doing out here – seeing more of our beautiful lives. In a beautiful country.
Circling around the red centre
We have spent the last few weeks trying to sort out the hubby’s paperwork so he has the right licence to ferry passengers around the rock on a Harley. These things take time in the NT, especially around the longest of long “weekends” which is Easter combined with Anzac Day, combined with May Day (as a New South Welshwoman, I had never even heard of this May Day excuse for delaying paperwork). So we have been circling around Alice Springs – Kings Canyon, East MacDonnells, Finke Gorge, West MacDonnells, Gemtree and the Plenty Highway.
I am glad we had so much time here – there is so much 4WDing, garnet fossicking, bush walking, rock scrambling, waterhole swimming and outback pub drinking to do.
Though, as nice as it has been, we have now come back to Alice to stay at the Big 4 – FOUR times. As far as caravan parks go, it is one of the best, but even the kids are asking if we can move on. Enough waterslides and jumping pillows already!
Fingers crossed we can get everything sorted soon and the next blog post will be coming from our new “home” at Uluru.
*Bloody Ed Sheeran and his catchy tunes and being such a nice guy. I’m not overly thrilled with my 4 year old daughter singing “last night you were in my room, and now my bedsheets smell like you”, but there is no denying that guy can get a song stuck in your head. For weeks. And as unlikely as it is, I will forever look back at the Divide album (I now know every word to every goddamn song) as the soundtrack for some very happy times.