Sometimes I miss Australia so much it makes me stop in my tracks and want to keel over. Sometimes the feeling of the air or the atmosphere of a memory sinks in to me so intimately that I cannot stand to be away from that land. It’s the land I miss. The trees, the sounds, the buzzing and that insanely magical song that sings through the land. It is irrationally meaningful to me. And yet I must cherish the meaning it gives my life. The perspective and the high water mark it gives me for beauty. And I have to imbue every aspect of my life with that same meaning. And treasure that beautiful meaning rather than allow it to make me fall to my knees. Learn to manage, learn to manage. I could never live there my whole life. But sometimes I don’t know how I’m going to live without it. The craggy and mysterious rocks that line the ocean…the golden light of the sun which soaks you in its fearless way…the cascading hills and mountains so ancient that they cannot even be named. It gives me chills just thinking about it. And breaks my heart that I cannot find this middle ground. That I cannot somehow live a thousand lives at once. My love for Australia is different than any other love I’ve ever known. It just feels like a piece of my body that is sitting out in the ocean. It’s the craziest feeling, but that’s how it feels.
And yes, I am so endlessly grateful that it ever happened at all. That the earth cracked open at its seams, swallowed me whole and spit me back out. Gave me back my feet and let me walk myself back to sanity, back to home, back to self. But it has been a long road piecing reality back together again after that. And I’ve never understood why it happened or moreso- why it ended. Why it felt like for a brief moment in time…I was walking in complete syncronicity with the entire earth and all its flowing parts. Why I could see into the gaze of the horizon and look back at myself through a prism with perfectly clear vision. Why I could feel the roots of the trees around me and the words that hum through their endless branches. I will never understand what happened or why. Which part of me pressed forward into that responsive space in the sky where I was both seen and seeing. I cannot explain it and I cannot relive it. But the echoes and scars and gifts of that time are etched into my very flesh now. It has changed me in the most essential way. And yet…through time, through space, through breath and fear and flight and isolation and madness and strength and courage and friendship and loss I have somehow crawled through this white hot tunnel to this space where I am fully myself. Aware, awake, entirely secure and connected to a thousand conceptions of myself…and yet I still remember. I still carry the magic. I can still close my eyes and travel. I can still feel the shape of the earth itself. But I’ve leveled out…settled in…sunk back down into my own roots and dug out some dirt for myself to grow. I no longer cling to some sense of being special or some need to re-create the feelings and sensations in exactly the same way. I’ve come full circle and found myself at the beginning once again. Ready and open and willing for whatever gust of wind that wants to come rushing through my body to do so. And I know it takes time, it takes cultivation, it takes spaciousness and it takes contemplation and connection and ferocity. When I was in Australia in 2010 I had all the time in the world. To wander around a strange and beautiful city, sit on park benches and contemplate life, to wander in to mysterious situations, to say yes to every offer of every passing stranger to accompany them this place or that place. I had time and I had space and I had youth and I had the incredible discovery of an incredible country bursting under my feet. And I cannot recreate those situational aspects ever again.
One of the most existentially heartbreaking and simultaneously freeing things I have ever experienced was going to Australia the second time…2012…after building up in my head for months and months and even years that if I could just go back…that magic would return. I would be flooded with that same magic and those mystical feelings and the whole journey would make sense. And nothing of the sort happened. In fact I felt MORE isolated, MORE strange, more alone in my experience of the world and more disconnected from that experience I had in 2010 than ever before. And it was so utterly and helplessly heartbreaking. And Max and I crumbled in front of my eyes like this horrible car crash you couldn’t take your eyes off of. And I tried to take time and I tried to take adventures and I got on buses going to unknown destinations and wandered in towns with strange names and hiked through mysterious wildernesses all by myself with no map and no phone and no one who knew my name. I tried to get myself lost so I could find it again. I purposefully refused to get a phone in Australia because I wanted to experience the world in that mysterious, unfolding, syncronistic way. And everything fucked itself. Everything fucked itself backwards and forwards and spun inside out and upside down and life just kept crashing more piles of nonsense on my head. Spinning me around blind and growing scales on my skin. It makes me feel a straight kick to the stomach just thinking about it.
And I came home and it all vanished. It vanished when I walked on the plane to go home. All of the sudden and out of the blue I just knew. I just knew I had to get out. And the most ironic thing…was that the only syncronistic aspect of that whole year in Australia was when I was LEAVING Australia. Suddenly I had the clarity I had literally been searching for for a year. I knew clearly and without a doubt that I had to go. Right then. I called my dad and somehow he was willing to put me on a plane in a matter of days. Max and I got in the car and just drove the 14 hours from Sydney to Brisbane and I just left. Finally, finally, finally, finally, finally after a YEAR of pain Max was finally MAX for the ONE LAST DAY that I was in Australia. I don’t even understand. And then I got on the plane and it all vanished. This great, horrible, maddening buzzing in my head literally vanished somewhere over the pacific and when I arrived in America I was myself again. After years of feeling in a fog. Some sort of sick and twisted magic happened to me in a tube of metal hurtling over the pacific for 13 hours and then I was cured of all the painful questions that had been plaguing my head. And I was happy. And I was clear. And I walked off the plane and a week later I had a job at Terhune’s. And a week after I walked off the plane I met my husband. And the NIGHT I got off the plane I got clarity from someone I had needed clarity from for so long. And then I continued to get clarity all that month of May. And if I hadn’t come home at exactly that time I wouldn’t have gotten that job at Terhune’s. And then I didn’t seem to make any choices at all. Suddenly things that I had been trying and trying and trying and trying for for so long suddenly evaporated. The idea of being an actress, moving to LA, moving to a city just evaporated. And I didn’t even feel like I made this choice. Suddenly this was just my path I was walking. I’m not saying I was coerced into this path…it was just suddenly the path I was walking on. I was going to marry this man and I was going to work on this farm and not move to a city and not be an actress and I didn’t make any of these choices…the world just unraveled like that. I cannot possibly explain what I mean by that…but that’s just how it happened. That’s how it felt. That’s what happened.
I am forever confused by my own story. And now it is two years later and I am married and I am in this house on this farm and my almost one-year-old baby is sleeping upstairs and I don’t even know what happened.
Oh boy. Wow. I’ve never written about all of that. I just didn’t write during that time. But it was the craziest time. And I am still processing it all. I am still processing everything that has happened to me since 2010. I don’t understand it. I don’t understand a bit of it. I don’t know why magic swept through my brain and body and flipped my world upside down and shook me out by my feet and turned my eyeballs in on themselves and I don’t know why it was then taken away. I don’t know how I lost the magic and lost myself and lost so many loved ones…and then came full circle again.
It seems I have to conclude though…that the magic does not live in Australia. The magic was cultivated through through some mysterious combination of right time, right place…right mindset, right openness…and the inherent mystery of the earth around us. There has to be some chemical x to it all, some mystery that I cannot claim because to claim all of that magic for myself…to say that I willed it to be, or through my perfect thought process or my personal attentiveness…I think is always tragic hubris. I cannot claim this. I cannot say I did this. It is too much to claim. It implies too much about myself and too little about others. And so I am left to the conclusion that there is so much that I don’t understand. So much mystery that I am wading in. That the wind is blowing through me and I am catching pieces of pieces of pieces. That I am just a bundle of nerves and glass and I am reflecting and refracting and respecting light that is forcing its way through me from some recycled atoms from the beginning of the beginning of the big bang. I have to resolve myself to the fact that the mystery is an inherent quality of this whole journey. That in fact, it is the crux of this journey. If I knew all the answers, if I could see all the steps…there would be no magic at all…inherently. There would be no intrigue to the series of motions I am watching play out. There would be no story, just a series of numbers and letters. The drama of human life rests of the nature of mystery. Entropy. And some sort of connected chaos that bounces off the atoms and quarks of this world I am a part of. Magic in the essence of the essence of the essence. The silent song that sings inside of a quark.
What I can say, beyond a shadow of a doubt…is that five years ago, in Australia, the world ripped through the mind and shattered my senses. In the simplest set of terms, it left me with synesthesia. It also created some truly inexplicable moments of syncronicity (I don’t mean during the time of leaving Australia in 2012, I mean miles upon miles of simply INEXPLICABLE coincidences that leave chills up your spine). It also made me HYPER sensitive to sensory experiences – particularly eating and experiences in nature. The land took me and shook me in its dusty paws and rattled out some ancient, magical kernel of the world and settled it into my brainfire.
I went to Sicily and I could feel all of time dripping out of the walls at me. I could do anything in Sicily, anything, anything. The magic was out of control. People knew, people could see it. The leader of our study abroad program was this incredible sage from Tunisia and he saw it immediately. He asked me immediately outright to explain what it was I was experiencing because he could see it. He told me he was going to be my spiritual guide and once a week he would take me on some mystical adventure to some peak of some rocks on some cliff and would play some sacred Tunisian instrument to the splashing waters or he would lead me down some ancient streets in circles so long I didn’t know where I was or how to get out of the labyrinth he had brought me down. The magic was out of control. Syncronicity was out of control. There is no way to describe what I was feeling in Sicily. When my mom came to visit I thought I was going to nearly jump out of my skin without being able to explain to her what I was experiencing. I was in it. I was in it. When I came home Mr. Bush could see it.
When I came home it adapted in some strange and productive ways. My senior year of college I had to carry some sort of journal with me AT ALL times because the most bizarre, ornate and specific ideas and visions would strike me AT ALL times. I couldn’t concentrate on having a conversation with someone while eating because I literally felt like I was going to explode with all of the things that were flooding my head that I needed to write down. It was like lucid dreaming for an entire year. I had to make a concerted effort to eat by myself or I would drive myself crazy. I would stay up all hours of the night just eating and being fucking high as a kite on just food. Unlike any other high. Just complete lucid dreaming. In class I would just sit there and watch the information being told to me filtering through my brain in a high definition, 3-D projection all around me in all sides and immersing myself in a fully realized imagination of what the teacher was saying. I had to sit there patiently and act like nothing was weird and I was totally just like everybody else. Watching a video was in every sense of the world EXACTLY like literally. Literally. Being there. This all went on for so many years I forgot that I was ever NOT like this. I totally lost touch with what ‘normal’ people experienced and what a normal experience of the world was. And then I got high…at a cast party on the night of opening night for my last show at Arcadia. And it was too much, I think. So much adrenaline from the show, so much heightened sensitivity that had been cultivated, so much heightened sensitivity from performing on stage…and I just…cannot…describe. Those…3 days. I was high for three days straight off of one hit and I just never thought I would ever be able to get out of it. I had to do a dance solo on the third day…my last one at Arcadia and I thought it was either going to send me so much stimulation and sensory overload that I was just going to pass through into that white light of the world or I was going to snap out of it. And I summoned all my bravery and all my inner strength and I danced and I came off the stage and I was out of the high. Back in reality. And then I graduated. The summer was hard and I was off kilter and zooming into depression. And I thought going to Australia would fix it. I was positive. If I could get back to that magic land…I could get back to that magic…and I could live in it. And I got to Australia and the world fucked me up and down and backwards. And the magic wasn’t there and I watched a small, fragile bird gather up its wings and fly slowly out of my hands. And I watched Max and I melt and burn and puff out at the edges and contract in on the spleen and then vanish. And it makes my skin crawl just thinking about it. And I came home and I healed, and healed and healed and this baby started growing inside of me and flipping my skin inside out. And everything I had developed…all of my habituated patterns and obsessive tendencies and needs to eat just went out the window. Because I was sick every minute of every day for three months straight. And because hormones flooded my brain cells with a thousand winds that made me unable to think. And for three months I wasn’t even an owner of my own body I was just housing this wild sickness that was clearing me of thought and need and hunger and all of the things I had grown so used to telling myself I needed. And it was horrible and hard and is painful to remember…but it saved my life. And I never was able to quite feel like the full owner of my body until he was finally out of me and I could bend and breathe and assume my thoughts were a result of my own hormones and not my pregnancy’s. And then I had this newborn baby which once again cleared every thought from my head for about 6 months straight. I didn’t do anything but look at him for 2 weeks straight. I didn’t turn on the TV or listen to music or anything for two weeks I just stared at him and took it all in with gaping wide open mouth. And for months he flipped my world upside down and consumed me. And then ever so slightly and ever so subtley…finally…finally…finally…after honestly 5 years…I began to return to myself. To reclaim my body, my mind, my veins, my skin, my soul, my memories…and my FULL recognition of myself…not just who I was after Australia 2010…but all of myself and all of my memories. And so now I’ve had lots of silence…lots of quiet time with a boy who can’t speak yet. Lots of long walks with a baby snug in a carrier strapped to my chest looking through the trees trying to sort it all out. Lots of moments alone in a house trying to understand what my role is now as a housewife. No time to paint, no time to make art, hardly any time to write until now…just time to sit and be present and reflect and watch Jamie while he tries to understand the phenomenon of holding a block. Lots of time to reflect. To talk to mother. And the try to make sense of it all.
No, I haven’t made sense of it all. But I am arriving back at the beginning and I am grounding myself in my center once again and I am rediscovering snippets of magic now that feel mature and aware and focused on this reality here and now in front of eyes. I feel clear and honored to have experienced the majestic things that I have experienced. It is enough, it is enough. Already…if I were to die now I feel as though I have experienced more than any one human could ever ask for in a life. So I have to rest in that gratitude. And open myself to more. To new. To possibility, discovery, and the inherent magic that gathers itself up in the strains of light that pass through twilight grass and golden-filled dome light lenses of rolling hills and wild flowers. To the inherent magic here, there and everywhere. Not just in Australia, not just in Sicily, not just when you force it into your brain with sugar and spikes in sensory stimulation…but that magic that is present in every breath of the sky. The romance that is glittering through every dusty gravel road and the light that is following you through every day and every night – shining those ancient, secret answer words through the reflection of the beginning of time. Saying nothing at all, everything at all, everything all at once. Everything at last.