This is one LONG Chapter, it’s a bit deep and covers a lot, but that’s where I was at the time.
Leaving Canada is always hard – as I’ve said in my previous chapter, it’s my favourite place.
My heart resides there.
But – I DID come back (or apparently the authorities would have deported me). I gathered myself for a few weeks at a friends – just to make sure I was REALLY doing the right thing by going on the road and totally winging it.
It became apparent quite soon that my old life really had finished and although I still felt quite transitional and uncertain there was a part of me that still just wanted to ….walk away.
Spending a few days with my eldest son – where he gave my car an oil change and some other stuff that cars need when going out yonder – was something neither of us had experienced for many years. Lots of deep conversations were had.
My youngest son built a bed in the back of my VW Caddy, I packed the food I’d need, one small case of clothes, a stove, a tent and tarp, pots, pans and dishes etc, 1 esky (that’s a cooler to you non-Aussies) under the bed, a camp mattress, bedding and one luxury item – my small blender. The other necessities were gumboots, old clothes to work in, a hat or 2, sunscreen and insect repellant.
To be honest I don’t really own much more than this now – I’ve minimised to the point of insanity.
I was ready, nervous and had no idea what to expect.
and then….I GOT A JOB!!!
I’ve never been any good at finding work, having always been self employed I don’t think employers like to have someone who is as free thinking and independent as I am amongst their business. Which may be a sensible choice for them.
But…I DID get a job within 3 days of writing emails, phoning farms and signing up to every fruitpicking, harvesting and backpacker site that existed. I received one (1) acceptance email….oh my god – how stoked was I!!?? I almost cried with happiness.
I must add that there was one guy who called me back and then asked me how old I was – so I lied and took off 5 years, just incase, but I think any age over 50 is a no-goer for most people – it’s like we are considered ‘elderly”! He then set about telling me how difficult the job was, and the quota of onions expected to be bagged per day and then, when I was still keen – he said he only employed men anyway……
My first ‘job’ in many years was…..as a picker of blueberries!! woohoo I thought, how awesome, who doesn’t LOVE blueberries!!
This is the first time I’ll be totally alone, only myself for company, no idea where I’m going or what to expect. My children have been my safety net for over 30yrs, they have defined me – as a mum and carer, always thinking of them, so I was a blubbering mess when I left….. and my dog…. (yep, I cried and cried) but I knew he was in good hands.
After driving for a huge 3 hrs I arrived at a town that would define Tiny Towns called Tabulam, NSW. In a way I felt I had left myself this one tiny safety net of not being too far away (from what – I don’t know, I had no home, belongings or job any more), it was just a psychological thing and it did make me feel better.
I set up my camp right at the edge of a large patch of dirt at a Backpackers, with a forest of trees on one side and dirt on the other ,facing my tent towards the trees so I could have a beautiful outlook when at the camp. There were toilets and showers and a kitchen/lounge area about 50metres away from me. The basics were covered.
Now it was just dealing with working and living with hundreds of youngsters and trying not to feel old….AND I had to keep up – there was no going back, this is it baby – I really had to fake it and hoped I make it!
Sharing a kitchen! With at least 30 people at once (on a good day), squashing my food into a corner of the fridge I hoped no one would steal it…I was feeling very out of my comfort zone (that’s good right?). It was then that I discovered the uselessness of my esky… it’s about 40C during the heat of the day and my esky was a cheap and useless piece of crap.
There was one really hot day when I came back to my little bivouac after a hot hot day at the blueberry farm I came back to camp, exhausted and overheated from the relentless sun ………and that night tI began writing……I think I was quietly losing my mind…..the following is a rundown of my thoughts at that time.
How is it that I’m lying on my back looking up at the night sky glowing with stars, sometimes shooting across the sky and occasionally hazed over by flimsy treetops swaying in the the cold breeze lifting from the earth after this super hot, hot dry day.
How did I get from a life with a home, living near the beach, having my own business and pursuing the seemingly normal things we do as humans beings in this society to sleeping in my van, picking blueberries for a living, having a kitchen in a small dome tent in the dirt, with outdoor living…. everywhere? Not even phone reception!
Unhappiness took me here.
Happiness and contentment is beginning to infiltrate my being.
When did my passion become my job and what is it about my job I began to find really tiresome? Repeating myself over and over again.
Not wanting to sound pushy, but seeing clearly that for people to feel better, to really perk up and enjoy their lives, to get off the antidepressants, the herbs, the medications and get over the fear of the disease or condition they have been diagnosed with by an overwhelmingly negative doctor they have to change something…anything, for no other reason than to do it.
To enjoy life, to play with it, to do something silly, to just be, to break their self imposed rules and be happy.
Walking away from the normal expectations of society is so ….um whats the word….liberating? freeing? interesting? enjoyable? fulfilling? creative? adventurous? challenging? isolating? wonderful? in fact, all of the above. This is what I have been wanting to do for years, since I was small, and I thought the man I married was going to come with me, but that wasn’t his plan.
After working 8 days straight, many of those days way over 30degrees I finally hit the wall and simply couldn’t find the strength or will to go on….even though we were on double rate of pay for the day,I had to come back and sleep.
Its been a challenging day, one that started well, earning $20 a bucket of blueberries made it so easy to pick those little suckers, but after 11 buckets, 5 hrs and 35C heat I folded, and came back to my hot, dry sun blasted camp to ‘chill’…
I took today off work, did some washing, had a nice cook up brekki and went to town to stock up on supplies. There’s something so enjoyable about jus doing the ‘normal’ things of life when in an uncomfortable situation. I know how to shop, how to drive and how to cook. That’s the only comfort zone I really have right now.
I bought an umbrella for shade, some work shoes for my poor bruised and swollen feet, a new torch, some rope, an ipad charger, a new sim for phone (so I get a bit of reception) and food.
Then I fixed my tent, I have no idea how it got so wonky and sort of fixed the chair…that needs more work. The umbrella is up – held there with an okky strap and zip ties. Ahhh the comforts of domestics….
My Danish camp neighbours are planning on going to a “rainbow gathering” on the way to Tenterfield next week.
I’ll miss them, although they asked me if I’d like to join them, I don’t think I’d like to. My focus is on making money, making space, becoming more forgiving and I think (although I’m not sure) I’d find it challenging to be in a community that wants to share everything….food, skills, space, etc…with no showers, toilets or running water (or power) and optional clothes and then work all day at the farm.
To come back to that after a day’s work could be a bit much of a stretch right now, although I’m sure I’d cope if I had to, maybe I just don’t want to.…in fact I’m sure I don;t want to!
Although I find this place expensive and quite noisy and the people here aren’t really going to be my lifelong friends I do have a little ‘spot’ that I can cook and be alone when I need to.
I still didn’t make time to meditate, thats on the cards this week for sure.
Hopefully there’s only 1 more stinking hot day before it cools down again, can’t wait!!
I am planning on having 1 day off a week from now on, no more 8 day straight!! Its too much.
Wed 7th Oct What do I need to survive as a wanderer, especially an older one?
The big problem with starting anew in my life at an age when I’m already ‘set in my ways’ is to change lots of things, not to just take off and do the same things, react the same way, repeat the same mistakes and try to feed the same wants.
Its all about creating a new me!…one that is the way I am deep inside, the shining light, the happy child, the dancing hippy…whatever and whoever I am this is my chance to let it out, to be that person I yearn to free.
I need NEW habits, or maybe even NO habits!
Just a flow of activity and an embracing of the fluidness of life as it flows past me and through me and over and under me.
How do I change myself that much?
How do I find the true me?
How do I give up doing the things I don’t enjoy any more but are a habit – nothing more, the thought processes that go with those habits, those feelings of inadequacy
The pain I self induce and the sabotage methods I secretly use that are so hidden I barely recognise them now
How do I change my job when I’m so unhappy I’m practically a comatosed puppet – “but hey it pays doesn’t it” is my defence.
How am I making change?
By taking a risk!
I had to do something ANYTHING that was different and made me think a little differently…THAT is the important thing here, to recognise a change in thought patterns, removed from the usual repetitive thoughts that go round and round in my head day after day, minute after minute. Changing my activities changes the outcome of my day.
Out here I have no TV, no internet, no phone, no friends and share a kitchen and bathroom.
This is so new to me it can be awkward.
I make mistakes, my tent falls down, standing in a queue to wash my 2 dishes is very time consuming and frustrating, but when it comes down to it I’m doing exactly what I set out to do and life is just so simple now it’s totally exhilarating………….. and very confronting.
It’s up to me, not a book, a Dr, a friend or anyone else, its up to me.
I’m born alone, as a single being, encased in the body with a fully formed personality…its up to me to embrace my singularity, rejoice in my freedom to be the person I am, to let go of all the things I have been told during my life by parents, teachers, authority figures, tv, music, the media, fashion…its time to let it all go, be a slob if I want, be so damned happy with myself I can barely recognise myself, even when I find myself lying on my back in the dirt, feet wriggling in happiness at being out of those shoes, after a hard physical days work in the hot, hot sun, listening to my favourite music while the wind has blown my tent down and is blowing grit through my hair as I lie there being so damned happy its ridiculous.
Thats when I know I are getting somewhere. that’s when I am starting to be someone closer to myself.
Taking the challenge, embracing the changes happening around me, talking to the people I am biased about and have judged as being not worth talking to, watch them open up…remember we are all afraid. We all suffer the same pain and fear as everyone else, as an older women I often think that I’m way to uncool to be talked to by youngsters, so its such a wonderful charge of joy that shoots through me when one will introduce himself or herself and want to know what I’m doing?
Being a single woman travelling alone I suppose is a bit of an enigma for some – it’s a judgment call I have made previously myself.
I used to be in a position of authority, I used to be anchorage of peoples wellbeing as a nurse which usually incorporated life and death decisions,
I was a mum of 6 small boys and known by everyone in the town because of this as well as owning a heath clinic where my authority was even greater as I was answerable for their health,
working with Gov authorities and chatting with Drs and physio’s to promote the health of my clients.
I have always been available for others to ask me questions, to ease their fears and be there of them if needed.
Now…I pick fruit.
No one knows what I used to do and since most of the people here are from overseas they don’t even understand it anyway, I have no authority, no reason for anyone to take any of my advice, no one runs to me when they get a spider bite (that happens often by the way) or a twisted ankle or a headache of heatstroke…no one.
It’s wonderful to be free from that responsibility and just be given the chance to find who I really am, not who I am expected to be.
The main question I get asked now is ‘where are you from?” I love that, I say “here”.
Oh they say and “where do you live?” and I say “here”. One German guy was very worried about this. How question was ” but aren’t you worried about your old age – your security?” I answered that I had been responsible all of my life and it had got me nowhere. But by now it’s just words, nothing will be heeded.
My advice isn’t needed, their life will take them where they will go due to the choices and commitments they have made. All that remains is polite conversation.
I’m free and realising the simplicity of my life in the next chapter.