This is my 'have I really just made it all the way to Oz???!!' face. My plane had bounced down to land in a heat wave, I had been whizzed through the worst of the the tear-inducingly long immigration queues on a buggy. I'd caught the bus from the airport, walked up my old friends, Lisa and Mark's street in St Kilda's, Melbourne, found the key and crashed on the bed they had made up for me.
There is already a lot to tell you about. A visit to the beach, a refreshing sea, saving a dropped cake by newly decorating it with fresh fruit at a 5 year old's birthday party in a community garden. Hearing Mark go through all the poisonous spiders, him reassuring me that he'd never come across anything. We found a Redback spider (incredibly venomous though apparently not quite deadly) on the underside of a garden chair the next day.
A visit to Australia always feels like something of a life event it's so far away. I first arrived aged 19, after saving up for the year and travelled across the Oz coastline from Melboune up to Cape Tribulation in the north. I haven't been back since I studied film in Sydney 18 years ago.
As is the way with friends in Oz, I haven't seen Mark and his family for years. We first met at Uni in London when he was moonlighting as a chef, a film-maker, music producer and martial arts instructor. He later became a lawyer and dad when he moved to Australia. He turned out to be one of those linchpins who is responsible for so many other people I met in life. If it wasn't for him I would have been unlikely to have gone to live in Barcelona, become an angel street statue and then a professional musician. Then again, if my cousin Bart hadn't invited Mark to a Michael Franti concert, he wouldn't have met his wife Lisa from Melbourne.
What I'm struggling with at the moment is accepting - and perhaps this is a surprise because I thought I was doing better than I am - the impact of all of that flying and jet lag on a body with ME/CFS. It has started to get hard to move around the house. I will be seriously limiting my walking and swimming for as long as it takes to stabilise my activity levels again. No beach today. Not even getting to the tram stop. Perhaps I was a bit blasé about what travelling like this would really do to me. Right now I feel about as mobile as I was around April last year. I hold on to knowing that it won't take me 6 months to get back to where I was a month ago. And, perhaps I haven't really learned the lesson yet - to really be here. If I am stuck on Mark and Lisa's patio then to be here fully. I've made it all the way to bloody Oz. The sun is shining. I'm with them. I'm meant to be here.
An ME/CFS Thriver